Last post on Oct 15, 2013 at 8:03 AM
You are in the Dodge Durango
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Dodge Durango, Engine, SUV
#16 of 168 Durango Overheating
Sep 07, 2008 (12:44 am)
First of all, I would like to thank all of the people who post their problems. I have searched all over the web on this problem and have found that there are several people going through the same problem that I have experienced. While I rarely post, I hope you will find this information meaningful and helpful. If you are experiencing a chronic overheating problem with your Durango, I hope that you will find value in mistakes I've made and problems I have found.
I have a 2001 Dodge Durango SLT Plus and Dakota Quad Cab SLT both with 4.7L and two wheel drive. My Durango has had several overheating problems and my Dakota has always ran in the normal operating range. Since there are no numbers to indicate operating temp on the gauge, normal operating temp on my Dakota is about a 1/3 from the left side. If it is a hot day (100 degrees or so) in slow traffic, it will creep up to the halfway point but not beyond that point. The three biggest differences in these vehicles related to cooling are that the Durango has rear heating and cooling and the Dakota is equipped with the towing package. The Durango has the standard green coolant while the Dakota has red coolant. The towing package comes with a two core radiator and transmission cooler. Without the towing package you get a single core radiator and no transmission cooler.
The first time the Durango overheated, I was going up the grapevine on a warm day (about 85-90 degrees). I had the vehicle for about two years at the time. I was able to get the Durango cool and continue my trip.
The next year I was making the same trip and did not want to encounter the same problem, so I asked Dodge to install the towing package cooling system. After driving the Durango home I could smell coolant. I took it back to Dodge the next day. Immediately, one of the mechanics stated that the auxillary water pump needed to be replaced. I believe 2001 is the first year for rear heating and cooling. The auxillary water pump pumps water to the rear heater core.
About two years later, my wife complained that a strange smell was inside the vehicle. When I smelled inside the car, it smelled like stale air (like when you let out air from a tire). When I tried to find the source of the odor I could not find any problem. A few days later, I noticed a small puddle of coolant at the rear of the vehicle. When I opened the back of of the Durango and looked in the storage compartment, I found it full of coolant and quite a bit of the carpet was damp. Again, I took it into Dodge. They said the rear heater coil had sprung a leak and needed to be replaced. So I had it replaced.
A couple of months later, the Durango started running warm and leaking coolant from the front of the vehicle. I found a small leak in the radiator. I went to the auto part store and bought some sealant for the leak and poured it in. It stopped the leak and the vehicle continued to run great for the next year and a half.
This year in May on a very hot day, my wife had just had the oil changed on the Durango and on her way home the Durango got hot and the "Check Gauges" light came on. I found the coolant low and filled it back up. When I test drove the vehicle I found it reaching the halfway point in about 10-15 minutes. When I was at a stop lights it would start getting warm and when it was moving it would continue to get warm at a slower rate. The only way I could bring the temperature down was to run the heater. Of course, this is not a desirable way to cool your car when its 100 degrees outside. At this point, I figured that the water pump needed to be replaced. I decided this time that I would work on the vehicle instead of Dodge. When I removed the water pump I noticed that the water channel around the water pump looked slightly damaged. I didn't think much of it and continued to remove the thermostat, since I was right there I might as well change it, too. When I removed the thermostat, I noticed some grit in the housing. I stuck my finger in the thermostat housing and found a jagged hole. The hole went to the ports of the rear heater. I realized at this point I would have to change the entire timing chain cover. For those of you who do not know, Dodge runs the water inlet and outlet from the radiator through the timing chain cover, which the water pump is attached. I ordered a new timing chain cover, which comes with a new water pump and thermostat. I installed the new timing chain cover, upper and lower radiator hoses and drive belt. When it was complete, I test drove the vehicle, it took about 45 minutes for the temperature to reach the halfway point. When the vehicle was moving the temperature seems to stablize. While this seemed to be part of the problem, there was still something wrong. I thought that maybe the sensor had been defective and replaced it, but had the same result. Finally, I removed the radiator and had it tested. It was clogged. The radiator shop, infomed me that I needed to flush the system very good before installing the new radiator because he believed something was very wrong with the vehicle to create such a clog. Obviously, something was very wrong if the radiator was clogged in 4 years and had been flushed twice in that time frame. I decided that to completely flush the system, I would use a vacuum pump to pull out as much debris that I could from the system. I happened to have a vacuum pump that would pull about 25 psi. I connected it up to the inlet and the outlet and drained as much as I could. With just having put new coolant in the system, I was expecting to see fairly clean coolant. The coolant that came out of the vehicle was very dark and dirty. I decided to flush the system again with water and then redrain it with the vacuum pump. The process took about 3 hours. I reinstalled the radiator. When I test drove the vehicle it ran cooler than it has in a long while.
I have read several posts of people who have replaced nearly everything that I have and have even some who have had to replace motors. I have read other posts that state you should just flush your radiator every year or two. I have also read posts about installing a bigger better electric fan. At one point, I considered installing a bigger better fan and even possibly installing an oil cooler however, the fact of the matter is that I have two vehicles that are nearly identical and one overheats and the other doesn't. I just couldn't buy into installing something to fix the symptom and not the problem. If you are thinking about installing a bigger electric fan you should know that the fan turns on at the halfway point or when the AC is on, unless you rig it to turn on at a lower temp or have it running constantly. If you live in a very hot climate and find your vehicle getting hot when the AC is running, then installing a bigger fan is probably a good idea, otherwise you are waiting until your car is runni
#17 of 168 Durango Overheating
Sep 07, 2008 (12:56 am)
Sorry this is so long, here is the rest of my post.
running warmer than it should to get the benefit of the electric fan. Everytime Dodge has worked on my cooling system they had to flush the system which turns out to be about every couple of years. While I think that regular maintenance is great to keep your vehicle in top running condition, flushing the system every year or two seems a bit excessive. The reason I say this is because Dodge states that red coolant for my Dakota be replaced every 100,000 miles. For the Durango with the green coolant it is 30,000. I don't quite understand why they both have different coolant colors, but because of it they are on different schedules. I guess, if you put a lot of miles on your vehicle than maybe flushing that often falls within the maintenance parameters. I think that the corrosion in the timing chain cover is happening to more people than just me, yet I have yet to read a post about anyone else replacing this item. I think this is the reason that people are having to flush their systems every year or every other year to keep their vehicles running cool. I think the debris from the corrosion on my own vehicle lead to the heater core and radiator leaking and then to clogging up the radiator to the point that it was ineffective.
#18 of 168 Water Pump Fix
Sep 19, 2008 (11:17 am)
I am definitly experiencing the same problem of the engine overheating when idling. Tomorrow I am replacing my water pump to see if this solves the problem. I will post my results on Monday.
Also, I noticed above that a user reported one hose was hot and the other was warm. Check your thermostat again, that is most likely the problem.
#19 of 168 Flush radiator sooner than recommended!
May 04, 2009 (4:44 pm)
Have an 04 Durango with 4.7 and 50000 miles.....follow maintenance schedule regularly. Dodge recommends flush at 5yrs/60000 miles for schedule A...even later for B....too late! Had to replace mine today as it was clogged with sludge. What else should I know???
#20 of 168 Re: Flush radiator sooner than recommended! [sedro67]
May 05, 2009 (10:20 am)
Since I have changed my timing chain cover that was disintegrating, which included a new water pump and thermostat. In my opinion, the disintegration of the timing chain cover was causing the clogging of radiator. I was concerned that the grit had contaminated the system. To remove as much as possible, I used a vacuum pump to completely evacuate the system. I didn't think anything was wrong with my radiator at the time because I radiator had been replaced a couple of years before (usually I would expect a radiator to last more than a couple of years). When I put the truck back together and it still got warm (not as fast as it was before) I knew something else had to be wrong. I was surprised when I had the radiator at a local radiator shop (I wanted an independent opinion) tested and found it clogged. I bought one for about $175. After I installed the new radiator, the Durango has not overheated and runs as cool or cooler than my Dakota. Again, this year I took the family to Disneyland and over the Grapevine the Durango ran cooler than it ever has on that trip.
This is my experience and while I don't know if this a problem with all 4.7s, it might be a place to start or at least have it inspected. However, one thing is for sure, if you are replacing a radiator because it is clogged, installing a new radiator may temporarily relieve your symptoms, but it hasn't solved your problem unless the radiator has itself is disintegrating and causing the clogging. I may still end up with the same problem because I don't know what is caused the timing chain cover to breakdown. It is my guess that there is some kind of PH or chemical reaction that is causing this breakdown resulting in grit or sludge being produced. Since it's been less than a year that I have performed this repair, I'm optimistic that the problem is solved, but I still don't know why this problem started in the first place.
#21 of 168 Re: overheating durango [momemcanic]
Jun 03, 2009 (8:26 am)
I too have a dodge durango thathas been overheating. The problems are the exact same; when driving the guage goes down but when slowing down or even at a stop the guage goes up and heats up fast. As of today; on my way to work it over heated so bad that it actually smoked clear white smoke for at least five to 10 minutes.. I do not know anything about automechanic's duties but I will say Is there anyone out there that can HELP ME!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!
#22 of 168 Re: overheating durango [pudge22]
Jun 03, 2009 (3:45 pm)
I may be ableto be of some help to your cooling system issue. I have a 2001 5.9 Durango, and over a period of 5 months, my entire cooling system failed and had to replace parts as they went bad. First, check your coolant level. If it's OK, then most likely your issue is with the waterpump, since your vehicle is requiring more RPM's to cycle coolant through the system. If you get a Haynes manual, it's easy (and cheaper) to be replaced by you. In regards to the white smoke though - that is a sign of a coolant leak. Run your engine and see where the smoke is coming from, and inspect any hoses (after you allow ample time to cool the engine) for holes or cracks. If coolant is splashing off of the radiator fan and onto the engine, therefore causing the smoke, look under your vehicle to see if the coolant is leaking from the weap hole on your waterpump. The vehicle needs to be running and warmed up to identify this leak. If it is the weap hole leaking, then obviously as stated above..replace the waterpump. I have a good feeling this is your problem, but I would like to know where the smoke is coming from if it is not... hope this helps.
#23 of 168 I Need Help Too
Jun 07, 2009 (5:38 pm)
Last summer my 2000 Durango over heated. I took the head to the machine and nothing was wrong with it. I replaced my radiator, water pump, heater core and thermos stat. Now, my Durango is doing it again. Are there any new suggestions out there to try other than getting rid of the thing?
#24 of 168 Re: overheating durango [pudge22]
Jun 07, 2009 (11:07 pm)
I think the first thing I would be concerned about is the white smoke. If you are getting a lot of white smoke out of your exhaust then your overheating is a symptom of a different problem. If you have been experiencing overheating problems for a while then your problem just got worse. White smoke generally means that water is getting into the combustion chamber. Since the piston is tightly in the chamber, the movement causes a vacuum that sucks water into the chamber. The pressure from the compression and heat from the engine force some of the water through the system and it comes out as steam. The air and gas let in through the valves may push through the coolant system causing coolant to drain out of the overflow. The scenario I have described happened to me on another vehicle, but the problem was due to a head gasket blowing. More specifically, the water jacket from the gasket ripped to the combustion chamber. However, the same kind of problem can happen if a vehicle overheats and the head(s) warp(s). In this case, the temperature gauge will jump to hot. If your vehicle was getting hot before and this has happened or starting to happen then you have two problems. The first is the original overheating problem and now some kind of head problem. You would also likely find your coolant contaminated with oil.
Perhaps, I'm reading too much into the white smoke problem. If your white smoke is coming out from under the hood then you have a completely different problem. There is a good chance that the car getting hot is causing the coolant to boil over. When it gets hot enough it will create some steam. If the coolant comes in contact with the motor then of course it will cause a white smoke especially since you already know its hot.
Here are a couple of things I would look for.
If the car gets hot quickly at about the time you would expect it to reach operating temp, then there is a good chance the thermostat is stuck closed. If you turn on the heater to help cool the engine, then the heater air is likely not warm.
If the car starts creeping up in temperature and then you put the heater on and can slow or stop the overheating then I would guess the problem is a plugged radiator, although a faulty water pump could also cause the problem.
If the car gets hot only when under load or takes a long time to overheat then I would think the problem is a less plugged radiator or a stuck open thermometer.
#25 of 168 Re: I Need Help Too [terryomega]
Jun 07, 2009 (11:53 pm)
Much like you I had several of my cooling parts replaced. When it overheated again, I started looking at parts I hadn't replaced. The only part that I hadn't had replaced was the water pump. Up to this point, I had all the work done by Dodge. I learned more about the cooling system than I could have imagined. When I removed the water pump, I found some corroding. I decided to remove the thermostat. When I removed the thermostat, I found more corrosion. I decided to replace the timing chain cover, which came with a new water pump and thermostat. When it was all put together, it was better, but not fixed (see one of my previous posts for more information). Since I had seen so much gritty junk in my system (and had used a vacuum pump to remove it), I figured the radiator might be to blame. When it was tested, it was plugged (it was only a few years old). I installed a new radiator and it has been running great since. I think that when you installed the new radiator there was still some grit in system and it has now plugged your radiator again. I would take the radiator down to a local shop and have it tested. If it turns out to be plugged, I would check the timing chain cover. If you decide not to do that then I would completely flush the cooling system (without the radiator installed) or use a vacuum pump to remove any debris or grit in the system. In addition, I would install a two core radiator, instead of one (if that's what you currently have). It should help cool better and take longer to clog, showing less dramatic symptoms if it should happen again. I still don't know what caused the timing chain to errode or if it will happen again, but so far it seems to be working.