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Comments for Turbo diesel engine overheats. RVer wonders why

  • Please let me know what the tow vehicle is and I may be able to advise.
    Enjoy the day.
    BR, ChipFisher
    Founder Blue Chip Diesel

  • Hi,

    You haven’t specified what truck you’re driving or what temperatures you’re experiencing but, in general, you shouldn’t have any issues if the water temperature stays 240F or below assuming you’re using a 50/50 antifreeze/water mixture. My ’03 Dodge with a 5.9L engine has gotten as hot as 223F on long, steep grades without experiencing any problems. It is normal that the temperature will go up now that you’re towing a longer, heavier trailer. So change the antifreeze (and other fluids) according to the truck maker’s severe duty recommendations, do the recommended severe duty maintenance and you’ll be in good shape. Happy travels!

  • Since you seem to experience the overheating going up hill, please remember that your automatic transmission generates more heat when ascending hills AND that you’re likely moving slower. You’re putting more heat into the engine and transmission radiators, while less air flow dissipates less heat. You may notice that overheated RVs as well as those on fire are found at the top of hills; this is usually related to transmission overheating. Some pick up trucks are equipped with sensors to force downshifts or limit throttle if transmissions reach excessive heat levels. Those measures are intended to prevent transmission damage (and warranty claims!).
    My suggestion would be to install an extra radiator dedicated to cooling transmission fluid before it reaches the stock radiator usually co located with the engine radiator. Also, install a transmission temperature gauge to monitor temperatures. If those measures aren’t as effective as you want, add a thermostatically controlled fan to the transmission cooler.

  • Besides keeping your RPM’s up by downshifting turn off your dash AC. Instead run your generator and use your roof AC . If needed use a fan to help circulate the cool house air into the cab.

  • When climbing long steep grades, downshift your transmission to the next lower gear. Keep your engine rpm in 1800 to 2200 range. It relieves the load on the tranny, moved fluids through the system more quickly and will reduce the temps.

  • Ever removed the rad and done an external wash out of the cooling fins? The rad packs up quite quickly on some highways this reduces the air flow through the fins and therefore the cooling

  • It also could be a defective or lazy fan clutch that it ins’t engaging as much as it should to eng. temperature rise.

  • As far as I know there were not any one ton pickups that were rated to tow 18,000 pounds in 2007.

  • Clearly you’re overburdening the truck. Downshift on hills and slow down on the climb. It’s not a race to the top. And research water injection for diesel engines.

  • You’ve had enough people tell you to keep your RPM up not down because lugging it creates more heat and running free creates less, as well as the fan runs faster.
    BUT there are virtually NO diesel engines that have a NORMAL operating RPM of 2200 except possibly some small European car engines, which would pretty much negate the value of a turbo.
    I would think that after 10 years your entire cooling system needs a Really good clean and flush, and make sure that your fan clutch is working.

  • On my ’98 Dodge 5.9 24-Valve Cummins with automatic trans and 260,000 miles, I changed my original 3.55 rear axle to a 4:10, replaced the stock 3″ exhaust with an open 4″ , and replaced the stock injectors with 50+ hp RV injectors. Makes towing our 10,000 lb travel trailer much easier on the truck and now I’m not overheating and not exceeding my gcwr. Just points to ponder.

  • Don,
    I had the same problem with my truck and found the problem to be a restriction on the inlet side of the turbo and bad design on the inlet air side of the air filter. feel free to send me an e-mail and i’ll go over the fix in detail with you.
    larry@rvcomfortsystems.com

  • My thought is an engine oil cooler, You will increase your oil capacity and remove a lot of heat from the engine.

  • If it’s a dodge I know my brothers had a water pump problem. The impeller was slipping on the shaft and it would over heat. He tack welded the impeller on the shaft and doesn’t have that problem any more. He tows heavy loads all the time too. Good kuck!