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Old 05-09-2013, 05:57 PM   #1
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Unhappy TJ Overheating Cause? (Jeep brah in need of help)

I drive a 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ.
On the way home Monday afternoon I noticed my gear shifting not working well and all of a sudden the "Check Gauges" light came on and I noticed that my Jeep was overheating with the temperature gauge in the red.

I put about half a gallon of antifreeze and have driven regularly the past 2.5 days and the temperature remained stable in the middle, maybe a tad over the middle.

Anyways I was just on the way to the gym when the same thing occurred again. My temperature gauge was hot and rising. I pulled over and put the other half gallon of antifreeze I bought in once the engine cooled off.
When I open the hood I see smoke pouring out of the radiator. I looked and didn't see any leaks. The smoke dies down and I was able to drive home but the temperature was still fairly hot, not red but close.

Has anyone else had similar problems with their TJ? or does anyone know what a probable issue is?

This is my daily driver and I am absolutely F**CKED if I can't fix this issue.

I appreciate the help y'all.

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Old 05-09-2013, 06:18 PM   #2
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Were you in traffic when your rig overheated? If so, the fan clutch may be the culprit.

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Old 05-09-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
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Were you in traffic when your rig overheated? If so, the fan clutch may be the culprit.
I was in light traffic driving both times.
What are some other symptoms I will see if it is a fan clutch?
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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Try spinning the fan by hand. If it spins freely with no resistance then chances are its bad. I'm sure you can find tons of info online about how a fan clutch works and how to diagnose a defective unit.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:34 PM   #5
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Try spinning the fan by hand. If it spins freely with no resistance then chances are its bad. I'm sure you can find tons of info online about how a fan clutch works and how to diagnose a defective unit.
I just spun it and there is decent resistance. I'd say that the clutch fan isn't the problem.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:35 PM   #6
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I also noticed that my jeep was squeeling/squeaking outside when I was driving today. I am not sure if this is related to the overheating or not. Just additional info.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:44 PM   #7
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Mine did the same squeal just before overheating. I changed the tstat to no avail. I believe the problem was the water pump because when I tore it down the fins were about a 1/4" shorter than the new one I bought. Problem is my cooling system had about 200k miles on it so I just changed out the whole system. Parts were so bad if I put the new water pump on it would pull crud through and mess it up so I opted to change it all. The water pump itself is easy, do not use the gasket that comes with it use RTV.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:03 PM   #8
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Mine did the same squeal just before overheating. I changed the tstat to no avail. I believe the problem was the water pump because when I tore it down the fins were about a 1/4" shorter than the new one I bought. Problem is my cooling system had about 200k miles on it so I just changed out the whole system. Parts were so bad if I put the new water pump on it would pull crud through and mess it up so I opted to change it all. The water pump itself is easy, do not use the gasket that comes with it use RTV.
A new water pump was installed about a year and a half ago so I'm not sure of that is the case.

I'm taking it to a mechanic tomorrow morning.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:20 AM   #9
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A new water pump was installed about a year and a half ago so I'm not sure of that is the case.

I'm taking it to a mechanic tomorrow morning.
Unfortunately I think that's your problem, I don't trust mechanics as far as I could throw them!
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:27 AM   #10
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You should have your radiator pressure tested to help locate leaks. You are losing coolant somewhere and I am leaning towards the radiator as the culprit since you stated your water pump was good. Do a thorough inspection of all hoses, water pump and especially the radiator for tiny leaks. You could also have a bad radiator cap which I would go ahead and replace since they're cheap. Clean your radiator fins of bugs/debris along with straightened the fins out if they are squished together. Lastly, do you have a wet passenger floorboard or coolant smell in the interior(heater core) ?
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:44 PM   #11
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Did the mechanic find the problem?
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:47 PM   #12
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I gotta ask.........What is a "Jeep brah"?
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:48 PM   #13
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You might only have a thermostat problem or an air gap causing overheat and coolant burping out the expansion tank.

If it were me, I would replace the t stat first.

When coolant gets on belts it make them squeal.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:54 PM   #14
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Unfortunately I think that's your problem, I don't trust mechanics as far as I could throw them!
A good mechanic can save you alot of money becuase he knows how to properly diagnose a concern and fix it properly the first time instead of throwing parts at it untill it's fixed or your broke.

I'd really like to hear your theory on a mechanic replaceing a waterpump a Year and a Half ago causing the current concern?


Bdub, if your loosing coolant and seeing steam your first step should be to pressure test the cooling system, cracked and leaking radiator tanks are not unusual on Jeeps especially if you have one with the plactic radiator tanks. Sometimes the cracks are so small you cant visually see them and they only leak under pressure. Make sure you also pressure test the radiator cap.
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:07 PM   #15
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I gotta ask.........What is a "Jeep brah"?
I think its what girls wear to keep their boobs from bouncing to much on a rough trail ride All in good fun though
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:41 PM   #16
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A good mechanic can save you alot of money becuase he knows how to properly diagnose a concern and fix it properly the first time instead of throwing parts at it untill it's fixed or your broke.

I'd really like to hear your theory on a mechanic replaceing a waterpump a Year and a Half ago causing the current concern?

Bdub, if your loosing coolant and seeing steam your first step should be to pressure test the cooling system, cracked and leaking radiator tanks are not unusual on Jeeps especially if you have one with the plactic radiator tanks. Sometimes the cracks are so small you cant visually see them and they only leak under pressure. Make sure you also pressure test the radiator cap.
Sorry to offend the good mechanic if that is you. He said he put a half gallon of antifreeze after 2.5 days. I'm not a mechanic but that is not a small leak. Plus I was referring to using the mechanic as the problem not the water pump, I thought about that after posting.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:47 PM   #17
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Is the steam coming out from underneath the radiator cap? If so, either the cap is old/weak & venting pressure at too low of a pressure or it simply wasn't screwed down all the way. If the cap is venting steam/coolant and it is screwed all the way down to the stop, replace it with a new 18 lb. pressure radiator cap like from Stant or Robertshaw.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:20 PM   #18
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Check your head gasket. Does the jeep smoke white out the tailpipe? Check the antifreeze to see if there is oil in it. Also check the engine oil to see if there is antifreeze in it. If the tube coming from the top of your engine to the top of your radiator remains hard after a day or so since the jeep was last driven then that is a sign of a bad head gasket.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #19
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I had a similar problem it turned out to be a bad radiator would hold pressure for sometime but then every now and then would boil over. Turned out it had a small crack where the plastic and metal parts meet and no i never saw a leak.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:32 PM   #20
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I had a similar problem it turned out to be a bad radiator would hold pressure for sometime but then every now and then would boil over. Turned out it had a small crack where the plastic and metal parts meet and no i never saw a leak.
Ended up being this.

The radiator was cracked. Pisses me off because I had just installed a new radiator not even a year and a half ago. Sure enough I got a free radiator from AutoZone.

Anyways, its running back to its old self and the squeaking has stopped as well. I'm guessing the squeaking was the anti-freeze leaking out on a belt or something along those lines.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:48 PM   #21
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Glad you got it figured out especially under warranty.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:44 PM   #22
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Ended up being this.

The radiator was cracked. Pisses me off because I had just installed a new radiator not even a year and a half ago. Sure enough I got a free radiator from AutoZone.

Anyways, its running back to its old self and the squeaking has stopped as well. I'm guessing the squeaking was the anti-freeze leaking out on a belt or something along those lines.
Be prepared to do it again next year Glad you found the issue...overheating and being stranded sucks.

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