Overheating is one of the most common problems car owners have to face. Driving such a vehicle can cause serious damage to the engine, so you should try to take care of the issue as soon as possible.
The most common cause for Dodge Ram 1500 overheating is low coolant level. A leak in the coolant system or damaged engine components may be “eating” coolant by allowing it to seep into the cylinders and get thrown out with the exhaust.
There are also secondary reasons that can affect the cooling of the engine like a broken pump or a thermostat that is not moving the coolant around the system as it should. You could have a broken fan that is not cooling the coolant down as it should. Another, less common reason can be that the oil level is low and the lubrication is not ideal that results in more friction which generates more heat that it should.
What Causes My Ram 1500 To Overheat?
Low Coolant Level Can Cause A Dodge Ram 1500 To Overheat
One of the most common reasons for an overheating truck is low coolant levels. In fact, this fluid is exactly what is designed to pull the heat away from the engine.
An engine’s coolant system circulate the coolant through the radiator and the engine, cycling through cooling of the engine and then running the hot fluid through a radiator tolower its temperature and then back into the engine again. During this process, the fluid doesn’t actually get used, it just circulates through the system.
A leak in the system or damaged parts within the combustion chambers can allow the coolant to escape the system, which can overtime lose enough of it for the engine to start overheating.
If after checking the coolant levels you have found out that there is not enough fluid in the system, then the chances are high that you’re dealing with a coolant leak. If that’s the case, then you might be able to notice a sweet smell before or after driving.
Broken or Faulty Radiator Fan
If the air conditioning system in your Ram 1500 stopped working around the same time when the vehicle began to overheat, there might be something wrong with your radiator fan.
The fan helps get rid of all the hot air that got pulled away by the coolant. If the component fails to do that, your car will start to overheat.
If the fan is not working correctly, you might hear a strange sound coming from under the hood.
Low Engine Oil
If your Ram 1500 is overheating, the cooling system is not always to blame. A low oil level might be the root cause of the problem.
The main job of the oil is to lubricate the engine and keep it functioning correctly. If there is not enough oil, the parts of the engine will start experiencing more friction, and this can lead to overheating.
By the way, an insufficient oil level in the system will also cause the water pump to work harder.
Failing Water Pump
The water pump is the component that ensures that the coolant continues moving through the cooling system. Unfortunately, a lot of things can happen to this vital element.
As the pump has plenty of bearings, those will inevitably wear out over time and cause a coolant leak. The same might happen if the component gets corroded.
A tell-tale sign that your water pump is failing, apart from an overheating vehicle and coolant leaks, is a high-pitched whining noise coming from the front of the car’s engine.
There is not a lot that you can do to fix the water pump. If it is failing, you would usually have to replace the component completely. It is generally recommended to get a new pump installed every 60,000-100,000 miles (however, the element can fail prematurely).
The thermostat is the element that regulates the coolant flow through the engine. As the engine heats up, the thermostat will gradually open and allow the coolant to do its thing.
The component can get stuck in the closed position, due to corrosion or aging. If the coolant is not being used at all or there are issues with the temperature gauge, then you might need to get the thermostat replaced.
What Should I Do to Stop My Ram 1500 from Overheating?
Top Up Your Engine Coolant
- Park the vehicle on a level surface (this will help ensure that the readings are correct).
- Allow the engine to cool down.
- Open the hood and locate the coolant reservoir (it’s typically a clear tank).
- Slowly unscrew the reservoir cap.
- You’ll see a ‘min’ and ‘max’ line on the side of the reservoir. If the level of the colored fluid is below the ‘min’ line, add the required amount of coolant.
- Once the liquid has reached the ‘max’ line, turn on the engine and let it run for a few minutes (keep the cap off the reservoir). This will force any air bubbles out of the cooling system.
Find and Repair the Coolant Leak
Leave your car parked for a few hours, and then check underneath the vehicle. If you have noticed a puddle of coolant, the fluid is most definitely leaking.
The coolant can also start leaking from the actual coolant reservoir or the radiator pipes. To check that, inspect the elements. If you notice any bubbles inside, then there is most likely a hole in the system.
If the hose clamps are leaking, then you might be able to fix the issue by tightening them. If the actual hose has a hole, you might manage to replace it, if you’re not against DIY projects.
Unfortunately, a lot of leaks can be located in various hard-to-reach areas. So, if you have topped up your coolant, went for a drive, and then found that the liquid level has significantly dropped, then getting professional assistance might be the best decision.
Top Up Your Engine Oil
- Park your Ran 1500 on a level surface.
- Open the hood and find the dipstick (it’s usually a brightly colored stick with a round or T-shaped handle).
- Remove the dipstick and wipe it down.
- Re-insert the stick (it should click back into place).
- Remove the dipstick once again and this time check the level of the oil. If the level is between the two marks, then everything is alright. If the level is below the bottom line, you would have to use a funnel and top up the oil.
How to Prevent My Ram 1500 from Overheating?
- Always use proper engine fluid bought from a reputable shop.
If you have no other alternatives, and you have noticed that the coolant level has dropped below the ‘min’ line, then you can add a bit of water to the reservoir before you get to a place where you can flush the remaining coolant and add the right fluid.
In such an emergency situation, ideally, you would want to use distilled water as it doesn’t have any elements that can damage the pipes. If you have to use ordinary water, then the microorganisms and contaminants might end up blocking the internal waterways.
- Get a coolant flush on a regular basis.
Once a year would be ideal, but every 2-3 years is okay as well. In the course of the year, the old coolant can become acidic which, in its turn, can lead to internal damage.
During the flush, the whole cooling system will get cleaned and, in a lot of cases, the system will also get inspected by professionals. Furthermore, new coolants contain various additives that will help lubricate the Ram’s water pump and prevent rust from building up in the system.
- Try not to use the air conditioner as much.
Running the car’s AC on full blast puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the engine, and this can easily be avoided if you choose to simply roll the windows down.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.