10 Ways to Avoid Overheating Your Truck

Perform Routine Maintenance
A regular inspection of your truck's cooling system may prevent future problems.
A regular inspection of your truck's cooling system may prevent future problems.
©iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke

Keeping your truck in proper working order is one of the best ways to avoid having your engine overheat. That makes perfect sense, right? To be honest, if you properly maintain your vehicle from bumper to bumper, you'll prevent a lot more than just engine heat issues. However, since that's the main focus here, what areas or components will require special attention to help you avoid an unwanted rise in engine temperature?

Time for a little review. As we mentioned earlier, it's a good idea to watch for indicators of a problem in the cooling system, such as sudden jumps in normal engine operating temperature or leaks in the system. You should also regularly inspect your truck's coolant hoses for damage or deterioration. It's also a good idea to inspect any clamps that attach the hoses to the radiator and to your engine. Other areas that you'll want to keep an eye on under the hood include the engine belt (or belts, in some cases), the radiator itself, the radiator cap, the overflow container, the cooling fan and your engine's thermostat, just to name a few.

We covered the most common culprits, but anything that causes your truck to suffer a loss of efficiency or decrease in performance can lead to the engine being overworked, so it's important to keep your truck in top shape. You wouldn't want to be forced to leave all your worldly possessions on your trailer on the side of the highway while you went looking for help.

Author's Note: 10 Ways to Avoid Overheating Your Truck

As I wrote this article, I thought to myself, how many different ways can a truck overheat? And, the bigger question: How many of these reasons (and why) were specific to trucks, simply because trucks are bigger?

The answer: Not many. I've seen people overload cars the same way they overload trucks. I've seen photos of a VW Jetta with so much lumber strapped to the roof that the trunk scraped the ground; I've seen photos of a VW Golf with laundry units secured in the hatch. My former significant other once limped a borrowed Toyota Prius home from the hardware store, laden down with so much ceramic tile that it could barely be coaxed over speed bumps. And we've all seen cars so flat-out neglected that it would probably be safer to get a new ride from the local junkyard.

The lesson: Any of these antics can overload, overwhelm and overheat almost any vehicle, but anecdotal evidence suggests a crucial difference. The car drivers, for the most part, appear to realize they're testing the car's limits, and they're either desperate or detached. The truck drivers, on the other hand, seem a bit confused when the heavy-duty, much-hyped, hellishly masculine engine can't quite cope. Who's to blame? Marketing's as good a scapegoat as any other. But take heed, truck drivers: Those tow capacity ratings are there for a reason. They aren't merely a suggestion.

Related Articles


  • Allen, Mike. "Mike Allen's Weekly Online Auto Clinic." Popular Mechanics. Oct. 1, 2009. (April 7, 2012) http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/4279122
  • AMSOIL. "Propylene Glycol Antifreeze and Engine Coolant (ANT)." (Jan. 30, 2009) http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/ant.aspx
  • Amy's Garage. "How to avoid overheating your engine!" (Jan. 30, 2009) http://amysgarage.com/overheating_the_engine_how_to_avoid_this_common_summer_breakdown.shtml
  • Arrowhead Radiator. "Radiator, Overheating Causes and Cures." 2011. (April 7, 2012) http://www.arrowheadradiator.com/overheating_causes_and_cures.htm
  • Gottfried, Craig. "Cooling System Maintenance Helps Prevent Summertime Overheating." Automotive Service Association. June 1997. (Jan. 30, 2009) http://www.asashop.org/autoinc/june97/cooling.htm
  • PEAK Performance Products. (Jan. 30, 2009) http://www.peakauto.com/resources-faq.shtml
  • ProCarCare.com. "Trailer Towing." (April 8, 2012) http://www.procarcare.com/icarumba/resourcecenter/encyclopedia/icar_resourcecenter_encyclopedia_towing1.asp
  • SIERRA Antifreeze. (Jan. 30, 2009) http://www.sierraantifreeze.com/index.html


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