I have a 2000 Dodge Dakota Sport and she is driving my insane. She was running hot, coolant pouring out. I took her in. Water pump replaced, radiator cap replaced.
She was doing fine and then out of the blue today she overheated while I was driving to work for the second time today. I was going about 70 and the temp maxed out. The gate guard said it smelled like the thermostat was stuck. I am going bald from the frustration. Please help me!!!
Hi there Laura,
Keep your hair intact, this is probably not as bad as you think. Since this last overheating issue happened at freeway speeds I would be highly suspect of a radiator that is clogged up with rust and junk at the bottom.
When radiators get stopped up, you can NOT “flush” the problem out. A new radiator is the only way to correct the issue….and a new after market radiator from your local auto parts place is half the price of a new radiator from Dodge.
A good mechanic should ALWAYS first pressure test the cooling system for leaks, if no leaks they can feel the radiator (when the engine is hot) and see if the top of the radiator is hotter than the bottom of the radiator…which would indicate a restriction. Most repair shops use these new infrared laser thermometers, which can really help pinpoint overheating restrictions.
Thermostats do fail, although it is not very common these days, but they are cheap and easy to replace if you want to just try a new one and see what happens.
BTW you should ALWAYS replace the thermostat when installing a new radiator. Make sure you keep an eye on the temperature gauge, you do not want this engine to overheat again or serious and costly engine damage can occur.
Reader Follow Up Would the radiator have anything to do with my heater not blowing hot air also?
Hello Again Laura
Now we are getting somewhere. The heater core (the part that makes the heat inside your car) is basically a small radiator located inside your dashboard. The heater core needs the hot coolant from the engine to operate.
So if there is NO hot coolant inside the engine or the hot coolant flow is restricted somewhere and not flowing freely through the engine and heater core…..you will not get heat from the heater!
First things first, with the engine COLD, remove the radiator cap and look inside…top off with water if low or empty.
If you have to add more than a cup of water to the inside of the radiator then you have a coolant leak in the system somewhere and that is why I said every GOOD mechanic will first pressure test the cooling system for leaks before doing any repairs like a water pump.
It still sounds like you either have:
A. Don’t have enough coolant inside the radiator to keep the cool…thus you have a leak somewhere
B. You have a restriction somewhere…probably in the radiator which is not allowing coolant to flow throughout the engine and heater core.
Keep me posted will ya?