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A Hot Dodge

Q. Hi. I am sending you this e-mail in an attempt to prevent un-needed work on my vehicle...

  1. My vehicle is a 1993 Dodge Dakota Pick-up.
  2. It has the 3.9 Liter V6 engine.
  3. Automatic Transmission Part number A500, (as opposed to the old A727 Torqueflight for Dodge Chrysler or the Ford C6...)
  4. It just turned 85,000 original miles
  5. It has the Throttle body Fuel Injection...
  6. ABS brakes in the rear only...
  7. It is equipped with P/S, A/C, and cruise control...
  8. I don't know for sure on the Rack and Pinion steering...

I am having a problem with the darn thing running too hot! The gauge (not "idiot"/indicator light) shows the engine runs too hot. I mean, it would go to Pegged if I let it. I have to run the heater in order to keep it from getting too hot... I have replaced all major components in the cooling system. (Except for the water pump. The water pump is next, provided I don't become enlightened through your knowledge and expertise. Before I get to sounding too much like a smart alack, let me thank you for your time and efforts on my problem/behalf.

My truck runs hot. Or at least, according to the gauge it does. It does not have a leak in the cooling system. It has plenty of water/fluid in the radiator and overflow reservoir. I have replaced the radiator, both upper and lower hoses, the thermostat has been replaced twice, the radiator cap has been replaced twice, the fluid in the system should be at an appropriate mix between Antifreeze/Coolant and water, (between 50-70%), The fan has been inspected by more than one person and found to be Okay. The V6 engine has a clutch fan, rather than the electric/motor fan. Upon testing the engine, (starting it, let it reach operating temperature, with the radiator cap removed this entire time, shows that the thermostat seems to open, and the coolant begins to flow... It doesn't seems to flow with a whole lot of force, but flows, nonetheless...) and the system eventually gets too hot. Within, say 30 minutes I'd guess...

I should mention, that the thing overheated in June of 1999. This is when all of the cooling system components mentioned above were replaced, as the radiator blew up. It blew out a section of the radiator "weld" between the upper large portion of the radiator where it joins the Fins/cooling tubes portion of the radiator.

At any rate, I have no water in the oil, when I check the oil, but wonder if something happened to the head gasket. Or, perhaps the gauge is just reading/indicating High in the dash with it operating in the normal temperature range... But, what are the chances of that right?

I intend to replace the water pump soon, but am trying to exhaust all other sources of this problem. Do you have any suggestions?

THANK YOU again for time and help.

A. Actually Eric, the chances of the gauge reading wrong is not that far off. This is easy enough to check. Take the radiator cap off and place a thermometer in the radiator, getting it in as far as possible. Let the engine run and compare the thermometer reading with the dash reading. They should be fairly close.

As the engine heats up, watch the flow of the coolant. It will move fairly slow until the thermostat opens. Once it opens, it should move fairly quickly and the temperature will rise to whatever temperature thermostat you have installed. It should remain fairly close to that temperature as well. This engine should have either a 170 degree or 185 degree thermostat in it. If it has a 195 degree in it, it will run hot. A 195 is usually reserved for winter driving.


Assuming that the gauge checks out we are left with two possibilities. The water pump and a partially restricted block. With only 85,000 miles on it, I would tend to go with the water pump. The impeller inside the pump does get eaten up by the anti-freeze and over time it doesn't pump the volume of coolant it used to.If this still doesn't resolve the problem, then you will need a good reverse power flush to clear out the block.

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