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Hi Allpar, I 'm a 50ish mom/grandma mechanical novice having car problems. I bought a used 1996 Dodge Caravan for the most I could afford (not much) because I really want a van, but It has SO many problems, probably the most pressing is that it won't pass emissions in WA., so I can't register or drive it; but also right now I have just water (*Must figure this one out before hard freeze!) in it because of trying to flush the rust clumps and thick brown sludge out of the radiator.The water pump is leaking badly. There is at least one broken bolt in the old waterpump and I haven't tried taking it off yet, but I think that is the next thing, but also need to get into the engine to replace VC gaskets, because they are fail and leaking on Trans wiring. Thinking that might be what is causing the trans not to go above 35 mph. Yes, I bought a van with transmission problems, thinking it just needed a fluid change. oops. Still think it might be a wiring or sensor or solenoid thing, not internal. Trans was rebuilt 50K miles ago.

So far,drained transmission fluid, took a bath in it (^@!%$ SO much fun....) it was a little sludgy in bottom of pan but not horrible, at least not until I compared the color with new.. replaced filter and flushed transmission using ideas from Allpar, pouring in while running in 10-15 second spurts of shifting into D from park. Refilled with atf+4, used over 13 quarts getting the old out.... end result clean fluid, but leaking pan from 2 stripped bolts in trans pan. Either my torque wrench is a POS, which concerns me, or they were already stripped? There was so much sealant on them hard to tell. Or the factory service manual torque spec is wrong. anyway I should have helicoiled them right? but instead they are in there just not really holding and so there is a drip. I rationalized this thinking after I get this on the road and legal I would drain the trans fluid again in order to put a drainplug in that fracking pan. Hating Dodge engineers over lack of drainplug and for cheesy bolts.

Tried to remove thermostat housing, for flushing cooling system before trying to replace water pump (heater doesn't work ) broke off a thermostat bolt there. I tightened the other one back down and have done multiple drain radiator and refil and run until it circulates and drain again, and most of the sludge is out but don't intend adding coolant until after waterpump surgery. Maybe that isn't the priority. Don't want to spend more $$ on a radiator until it passes emissions. I know the O2 sensor is one code, and several trans codes, Solenoid D, and general trans code. The trans wiring is still an oily mess, and Somewhere I read something about that can cause transmission problems. Not sure how to clean the wiring and connectors. Even getting the connectors apart is a huge challenge for me! I can't afford to take this to a shop, I think it would cost $6,000 for them to fix everything. But I hate that I seem to make this worse with the broken bolt BS everytime I touch it. Have to say though, that thermostat bolt was corroded almost entirely through, just a tiny bit of metal in the very core. Fixing it though... not sure. I'm in way over my head and don't know how to work on cars but I guess everyone that DOES know how starts out not knowing.

oh, also Van is smoking gray smoke now, which it wasn't before, and there is this small lemon/banana sized "Thing" with a bunch of wiring coming into/out of it, on the passenger side engine bay, that after the van warms up it makes one heck of a loud ticking sound. tick tick tick tick tick... Doesn't seem like van smokes until after that starts ticking. I have the air intake off, maybe that is part of it. Son suggested it is a "purge solenoid" but I know nothing about it and he is in Colorado..

Does anyone know anything about a Purge Solenoid or what is up with ticking one?

Onward, through the fog... and rain.
 
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