I think my engine is overheating , could it be the radiator?

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Answered by: Maggie, An Expert in the DIY Repairs Category
Overheating can be traced to several different issues this is just a brief description and remedy that happened to me. I recently had a similar issue with my Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I first noticed it when I had decided to take a road trip down to Tombstone. I wasn't even on the highway for 45 minutes before my temperature gauge was in the red , which was a huge 1st for me since my jeep usually runs cold. It took me over an hour to get her home, with the engine getting hot I had to stop several times on the way back. When I finally got home , I let the engine cool again since it was bubbling and steam was coming out of the reservoir tank. After the engine had cooled the 1st thing I did was remove the radiator cap and check it for any damage, sometimes the rubber on the underneath can be cracked or missing and that can cause an issue. It was okay so then I moved on to checking the level of fluids in radiator. The radiator was full of fluid so I assumed that the mixture was okay. I checked the hoses , there is a lower hose and an upper hose, neither had cracks or were leaking. So I decided at this point to drain the radiator and check the thermostat.

The drain plug for the radiator is usually located on the bottom of it, so I crawled under my jeep and with a pan ready removed the plug. After all the fluid had been drained I noticed it looked a bit dirty . So I decided to preform a radiator flush, I went to my local auto parts store and purchased a radiator flush kit. I followed the directions which where to fill the radiator with the flush and water and let it run for about 20 minutes until it was at operating temperature.

I let it run for 30 minutes 15 idling and 15 driving. After letting the engine cool down again you then have to drain the radiator again and fill it with just water.

You then repeat the process of letting it idle and driving I did that for another 30 minutes. Ok now you let the engine cool down again , and drain the radiator again, this time after draining I recommend do a back flush. Which is just attaching the water hose to the bottom of the radiator and letting it fill up with water and running out the top. This can be a bit tricky but I found a plain dish rag or cloth wrapped around the hose to prevent back splash helps a lot.

Now that I had the radiator flushed and drained , I decided it would be a good time to check the thermostat which is encased in a metal housing attached to the top radiator hose. I had picked up a new one at the auto shop store, along with a new gasket. I removed the top radiator hose from the housing and then took the top of the housing off which was just two bolts attached to the bottom. I removed the thermostat and old gasket, here make sure you scrap off any of the old gasket that might be remaining , you want to make sure that when you put the new one on that you have a tight seal that won't leak. Now just do what you did in reverse. I then put the hoses back onto the radiator and replaced the drain plug. I made sure everything was nice and tight before refilling with antifreeze and water. I like to do a 60% antifreeze and 40% water mixture in my radiators. I then started the engine back up and let it run for about 30 minutes. Luckily that was all it took to solve my radiator issue. These simple things I have done took a few hours but it was not a lot of effort and very easy to do myself. If for some reason this does not work for you, you might want to look into having your radiator rodded out which is a process of the removing the top of the radiator and cleaning the inside out the replacing the top. It makes your radiator run and look like new, it is also pretty cheap to have done running around $75 to $150. Also the water pump could be the reason you are overheating. I recommend doing the simple stuff 1st then dig deeper if you need to.

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