Overheating

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by BirdsNest, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    I'll start by saying that I know that I'm pretty close to the 3900 pound tow capacity of my 3.6L Durango, pulling the ~2850 pound (dry) StarCraft 13RT trailer plus people and gear. However, it really hasn't shown any signs of problems, at least not until last weekend.

    We wanted to camp at Strawberry Reservoir which is a bit east of Salt Lake City, and rather than take the long way around through Provo, we went straight over Parley's Summit and through Park City. I've driven that route many times with the Durango, including towing a pair of ATVs, and had no trouble at all. But this last weekend we had to stop halfway up the pass because the temperature gauge on the Durango pinged over maximum temperature. I'm sure the 100+ degree outside temperature contributed, but I was surprised to see that since I've pulled the 13RT over lesser (but still somewhat steep) hills and never had the temp gauge go above half.

    I checked the radiator and the fluid is full and looks clean, the fan was spinning normally. Everything else looked fine, it was just super hot. Is this most likely a combination of just pulling too much on a hot day, or could it be a sign of something else that needs the attention of a mechanic?

    I ended up taking the long way home and went through Provo instead of back over the pass, but I wanted to check in with the experts here before our next adventure in a couple of weeks. That one won't involve any steep hills, but it will be a 4.5-5 hour drive so I'd prefer not to overheat again out in the middle of nowhere...
     
  2. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

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    I't possible you have a thermostat that is stuck part way open, it's allowing enough circulation for normal driving, but not enough for the increased load/strain. I've had this happen on several vehicles over the years. Not saying this is what's wrong, but after blowing the bugs out of the radiator, that would be the next thing I would check, if it were me...YMMV
     
  3. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    That's definitely a possibility, and not terribly hard to check. I'll take a look (or have someone look at it for me since I'm lazy) ;)

    Thanks.
     
  4. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Sounds pretty typical of a partially clogged radiator. Find a radiator shop and have it flow tested.
     
  5. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    I am by no means an expert in climbing mountains living in a plains state, but I once had that issue while driving through the Colorado mountains.

    Next time you climb, try manually shifting into a lower gear, slow down a bit and run at a little higher RPM while climbing. It could be that your transmission wasn't shifting into a low enough gear while climbing. If the RPMs are too low, the engine will strain and overheat. Running at a slightly higher RPM's will help cool it. It also help if you turn off the vehicle's A/C if it starts to overheat while climbing.

    Of course, if it is a stuck thermostat as xvc12 stated, trying this will make no difference.
     
  6. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    I tried the lower gear/lower speed option and we turned off the AC as soon as the temperature gauge started moving up but it didn't help, so it's probably radiator or thermostat related.
     
  7. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    Yup.
     
  8. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    If my car or truck is running hot the first thing I check is to see if the heat works. If the vehicle heat works then that means that you have coolant flowing through the system. Turning on the heat will also help cool the engine. If you have no heat that means you have a big problem.
    I think that your overheating may just be from towing a heavy load on a hot day over a mountain.
     
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  9. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    The heater in the car definitely worked. I didn't want to blast super hot air on myself, and my wife flat refused, so I had the heater running with the windows open while we were stopped to let the engine cool down.

    I'm hoping that it's just a combination of heat and being close to the max load, but I'll definitely have the radiator checked just to be sure. Thanks for all of the help!
     
  10. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    BirdNest:

    I'll start by saying that I know that I'm pretty close to the 3900 pound tow capacity of my 3.6L Durango, pulling the ~2850 pound (dry) StarCraft 13RT trailer plus people and gear. However, it really hasn't shown any signs of problems, at least not until last weekend.

    Birdnest, when you said you pulled 2850 Lbs (dry) this is worthless information for us. What is very important is the wet weight. I assume it is 3600 lbs like mine is. now if you maxed the weight plus your weight and how many passengers? plus the luggage you loaded in your Durango? I do not know if the max tow weight

    Does your Durango come with a tow package when you bought it? I assume it didn't because it would be like 4,000 to 5,000 lbs max for towing. The tow package includes bigger radiator, oil and tranny cooler and the tow button (I assume Dodge has it).

    Did you drive with A/C on when going uphill?

    These questions would be what I would be asking myself. If you rule out the previous questions, then your thermostat may be needed to replace. the thermostat may be in beginning to deteriorate.
     
  11. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    I was just pointing out that I know it's close to the max that the Durango can handle since it's already at that weight with nothing else loaded. I don't know what the full weight of the trailer and gear (including passengers) is exactly, but it is probably around 3500 total including the two full LP gas tanks and the water tank empty since I haven't yet needed to pull it with the tank full, and we don't take any heavy gear. Just sleeping bags and food for a few days. So most of the weight is distributed between five people, and I could give you an exact number there but my wife would probably slap me. ;)

    Anyway, yes, the Durango has a tow package including a transmission cooler. I bought it used, but the radiator and coolers are factory items. The max tow rating is actually 3,750 pounds (I just looked it up to be sure) because it's only a 3.7 liter engine (also just looked it up). The max capacity would be 2,000 pounds without the tow package. It also does have the tow button on the gear shifter and I use that whenever I'm pulling the trailer. The A/C was not on at the time to reduce the strain on the vehicle a little, and my kids complained about it constantly.

    I wasn't entirely surprised to see it running hot going over the mountain, but I was surprised that it went all the way to the max on the temperature gauge so quickly.
     
  12. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    No problems with temp at long route, right? Could be that 100 degree weather contributing to the overheating. Try replacing the thermostat anyway. Better safe than sorry.
     
  13. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

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    No problems driving it on relatively flat (some hills but nothing huge) trips so far even in hot weather, but going over Parley's definitely puts a lot more strain on the vehicle with its 6% grade. There are several long pull-out areas along that hill specifically for big rigs to pull over when they overheat going over the pass. I suspect most of the problem is the combination of the hill and the heat, but I will definitely have the thermostat checked to be sure it's not going to cause more issues in the future (as long as I avoid Parley's Summit).
     
  14. wmadoty

    wmadoty Member

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    Even if the fan was spinning you might want to replace the fan clutch. I think I would flush the radiator, replace the thermostat, and replace the fan clutch. Need to make sure the belt is in good shape too. Impossible to tell what is wrong with your vehicle on the forum, just trying to give you some ideas.
     
  15. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office Gold Supporting Member

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    Sounds to me like a worst-case scenario: Vehicle loaded to or over capacity, very hot day, and mountain pass.

    2 ATVs weigh a lot less than your pup. Plus you probably didn't have as much people and gear, and it was cooler out?
     
  16. FarmerDave

    FarmerDave Active Member

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    I'd say steep climb, loaded to capacity and very hot day would be the reason.
     
  17. Kampus

    Kampus Active Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I had a similar problem a few weeks ago, the day I picked up my pup. Never had any overheating heating problems prior. No major hills, but it was probably the hottest day of the year to date. I took it easy and had the heat on blast till I got home, that was a fun ride. It was fine for the next week commuting back and forth to work, so I was worried it had something to do with towing, then it did the same thing on my way home from work. I changed the thermostat, no change. I took it to the dealer, they said the radiator was in poor shape and found a tiny hairline crack that was causing the system to suddenly lose pressure and boil. Things have been fine since...been about 2 weeks. I have only towed the pup once, but that was a pretty short distance.
     
  18. Mark Jackson

    Mark Jackson New Member

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    I would definitely get the radiator checked/flushed. The radiator cap may also be allowing pressure to leak out which will cause the temperature to rise. I would also add a supplemental cooler for the transmission since that is also adding more heat to an already taxed cooling system.
     
  19. arthuruscg

    arthuruscg Active Member

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    I agree with getting the radiator checked out. Have you been flushing it often enough? I suspect rust has built up clogging the tubes. Also, Check the online Durango forums and see if there is any known issues with your water pump. Some have plastic impellers that get warn away from the sediment and eventually don't pump enough volume of water.
     
  20. tdiller

    tdiller Active Member

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    When was the last time you changed the fluid? If it's been a while change it and add some wetter water type of product. I'm not selling any of the stuff but my motorcycle overheated once. I changed the fluid on a bike that typically ran about three quarters of the gauge I added the wetter water type stuff and now it runs around half the gauge. I have since added the stuff to my other vehicles. Most of the makers of the stuff say it works best in plain water but then I'd have to change it out before winter. It still works in the antifreeze but the manufacturers say not as well. Of course check all the other possibilities for overheating as well.
     

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