How do I Replace the Radiator Drain Plug in a Dodge Caravan?

by Jody L. Campbell

The radiator drain plug, also known as a petcock, on the Dodge Caravan has a small rubber gasket between the exterior portion of the plug and the mating connection of the radiator. Over time, the rubber gasket can weaken and cause the plug to leak. Replacing the drain plug is fairly inexpensive and a relatively simple task to perform, although it can be a bit messy. Be aware the engine coolant is highly toxic, but it has a sweet smell and taste that can attract pets or young children.

Lift the hood to the Dodge Caravan and prop it open. Remove the radiator cap by turning it counterclockwise. If the engine is hot or warm, allow sufficient time for it to cool down (an hour or so if warm, a couple hours or more if hot) before attempting to remove the radiator cap. Pressure builds up inside the radiator, so remove the cap carefully and allow the air to escape slowly before loosening the cap all the way.

Lift each front side of the Caravan (one side at a time) with the jack. Place a jack stand under the pinch-panel of each of the front frame rails.

Align the coolant drain pan beneath the radiator in the location of the drain plug. It is located on the bottom of the radiator closest to the passenger side (near the lower radiator hose).

Turn the drain plug counterclockwise all the way until it stops. Be aware that coolant will begin to drain from the radiator so move the drain pan if necessary.

Allow the radiator to drain fully. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the drain pan carefully. Place a shop rag under the plug hole to catch any small drips of engine coolant.

Twist the radiator plug 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn clockwise to align the release notches on the plug to the locking tabs on the radiator. Pull the plug from the radiator.

Install the new radiator plug by aligning the grooves and tabs and tightening the plug snugly by hand.

Raise the Caravan above the jack stands. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle to the ground. Pour the coolant from the drain bucket back into the radiator. Replace the radiator cap.

Start the Caravan and run until it reaches operating temperature. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge on the instrument panel to ensure it does not overheat.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera radiator humor image by John Sfondilias from Fotolia.com