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Old 06-21-2016, 06:47 PM
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At a serious loss :( (overheating)

TLDR; coolant boiled over and engine heat redlined about a year ago. Replaced thermostat and radiator cap and did fine until I returned from a deployment in mid November. Started seeing higher heat 220+ even though it was cool outside. Since then replaced fan clutch, flushed system, replaced radiator cap and thermostat again, replaced water pump, and tested the engine block and found hydrocarbons were present and had engine rebuilt. New radiator is on the way and I'm about to retest the engine block to make sure the machine shop repaired the gasket/head or if there are still exhaust gases present. There was never any oil/coolant exchange as the oil and coolant both looked nearly pristine. STATS: I have a 5 spd manual 2004 TJ with some heavy after market parts, 35s, and 4.56 gearing. All cooling replacements are MOPAR/Stant. Hot hose is about 30-40 F hotter than cold hose. Engine runs about 217-225 with the heater on and climbs quickly to 240+ if the AC is on. I have a winch in front otherwise there isn't anything blocking air. I hit hotter temperatures whether I am on the highway or driving around town.


So I ended up boiling over all my coolant last May when I was driving cross country (8 hours or so from home) and as quick as possible filled the engine up with coolant and bought a new radiator cap and thermostat to try and fix the issue. All went well and I wasn't having any problems until a month or so later I started getting pretty bad heat soak. I deploy during the hottest months of the year and came back when it was cool and started to see higher than expected temperatures for this time of year. I decided to flush the system, replaced the fan clutch, replaced the cap and thermostat again, wrapped fuel injectors with some heat shielding, and installed a hood louvre to reduce ambient temperature.

Still constantly overheating so I decided before I replace the water pump and radiator I was going to do a chemical block test which is something that fits over the radiator and has a liquid chemical in it that changes the color of the chemical if it detects that there is exhaust gases in it. Color changed quickly from blue to yellow and I knew there was something wrong with the engine.

Took it to a mechanic I know and he said he will pull the engine and take it to a machine shop to see what they said. He said the head gasket was pretty gunky and the pistons (except for #6) were showing signs of scoring and they had bad carbon build up. The machine shop says it needs a rebuild, which they do, and I finally get my Jeep back 3 weeks and $1700 later. The mechanic also replaced my pump since the engine was out and they used only fluids that I provided.

Only a day later and I'm running about 226F down the highway going about 60 and pull over to get some gas and see how hot I get up to. I hit about 244 at the gas station and have never felt sicker than I have before.

Already ordering a new OEM radiator and talked with the mechanic and they said the engine is warrantied and they will take care of me. I am just dreading that the engine block or head is cracked or worse there isn't any issue with the engine and I replace the radiator and still run hot.

Any ideas??????:atomic :

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Old 06-21-2016, 08:13 PM
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Block test came back fine. Didn't get it all the way up past 210 but unlike before there were a lot of bubbles and almost immediately the chemical changed from blue to yellow. This time I ran it for about 2 minutes and nothing. Guess I'll see how the radiator does. Still open to suggestions/help.

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Old 06-21-2016, 09:11 PM   #3
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I have had issues in the past with bad thermostats,a bunch of them in a row!before you change out put it in a pot of water on the stove and make sure it opens before installing.Think i went thru about 6 or 7 before i got 1 that opened before boiling!Also make sure you dont have a rad hose collapsing on itself!Hope this helps!
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:12 PM   #4
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What radiator did you use as a replacement? Mopar/OEM?
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Old 06-22-2016, 05:44 AM
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Boiled the old thermostat as well as the new one. Even drilled a burp hole in it and went with a Stant superstat both times.

The replacement radiator is OEM. Try and go with OEM as much as possible, just because it's not working well 13-14 years later doesn't mean it didn't work good when it was new.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:05 AM
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Radiator isn't here yet, forgot to mention that, though looking through the cap and lower hose it didn't look to be in bad shape.

Also replaced the coolant temp sending unit as well.... It's reading about 230 @ idle with the AC on with my temp gun

Temperatures on the radiator are all over the place. 220-230 in one spot and then five inches over it drops to 160-180..... Top hose is just under 200 and bottom hose is probably 10-15 degrees cooler.

Driving with the heat on will generally keep the engine running at about 217-226
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:46 PM   #7
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Sounds like the radiator is the only thing that hasn't been rebuilt or replaced. That's probably the culprit. Good luck with it!
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Old 06-22-2016, 04:35 PM   #8
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I have gone thru this as well.

Although this is probably not your problem, I am a big fan of putting a thermostat in one of your wife's less favorite pans with a meat thermometer in the water, raise and lower the water temp and watch the thermostat open and close. Good test probably not your problem.

You have changed the fan clutch,
you have changed the water pump,
You have changed the hoses,
You have changed the thermostat
You have IR gunned the engine etc.

Whats left, the radiator?

Check with your IR gun the temperature change in your radiator from the engine supply side, bottom, to return side, top, if there is insufficient temp drop, and I suspect there is, you need to figure out why, could be too many bugs stuck in the outside of the core. The problem is most likely insufficient water flow thru the core meaning too many tubes blocked with crud, add that to the Jeep radiator is marginal in cooling capacity and in high temp areas with AC on, mix the two together and you will over heat.

I went with a 3 row, all copper, radiator after having the same problems and after doing the same things you are doing including buying a new factory Jeep radiator, the only difference is I fixed it before I burned up the engine. I live in Florida, AC is a must, in stop and go traffic with the AC on in 97 degree days, my temp needle sits dead center of the "2" of 210 or about 195*. the only time it moves is when I turn off the engine. The only way this engine is going to over heat is if I park it over a forest fire.
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Old 06-22-2016, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Airstreamer67 View Post
Sounds like the radiator is the only thing that hasn't been rebuilt or replaced. That's probably the culprit. Good luck with it!
Thanks bud. I sure hope so. Wish I would have gone with that to begin with but at the time I knew there were HG issues as well. I'll be sure to post my findings in a week or so.

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Old 06-22-2016, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by crallscars View Post
I have gone thru this as well.

Although this is probably not your problem, I am a big fan of putting a thermostat in one of your wife's less favorite pans with a meat thermometer in the water, raise and lower the water temp and watch the thermostat open and close. Good test probably not your problem.

You have changed the fan clutch,
you have changed the water pump,
You have changed the hoses,
You have changed the thermostat
You have IR gunned the engine etc.

Whats left, the radiator?

Check with your IR gun the temperature change in your radiator from the engine supply side, bottom, to return side, top, if there is insufficient temp drop, and I suspect there is, you need to figure out why, could be too many bugs stuck in the outside of the core. The problem is most likely insufficient water flow thru the core meaning too many tubes blocked with crud, add that to the Jeep radiator is marginal in cooling capacity and in high temp areas with AC on, mix the two together and you will over heat.

I went with a 3 row, all copper, radiator after having the same problems and after doing the same things you are doing including buying a new factory Jeep radiator, the only difference is I fixed it before I burned up the engine. I live in Florida, AC is a must, in stop and go traffic with the AC on in 97 degree days, my temp needle sits dead center of the "2" of 210 or about 195*. the only time it moves is when I turn off the engine. The only way this engine is going to over heat is if I park it over a forest fire.
Lol. Pretty sure I have read your previous suggestion to boil the tstat on more than one occasion trying to search for answers. So the radiator temps are pretty much all over the place. Readings near the plastic top hit 200s the actual fins can be 20-30 F different in only a matter of an inch or two to the left or right. I just looked under the cap again and while the surface scaling doesn't look bad there is a thin film on the few channels I can see.

What radiator did you end up going with? It's too bad radiator barn is no longer around as it seems they were a popular source in the past. Appreciate the help.

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Old 06-22-2016, 06:09 PM   #11
Knows a couple things...

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Radiator Barn went out of business due to the crappy leak-prone radiators they were selling.

You said yesterday that you were ordering a new OEM Mopar radiator, that is exactly what I'd go for. Here's a good source for Mopar parts that is cheaper than the dealer prices... RADIATOR for 2004 Jeep Wrangler|55037652AA | WeRMopar
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Radiator Barn went out of business due to the crappy leak-prone radiators they were selling.

You said yesterday that you were ordering a new OEM Mopar radiator, that is exactly what I'd go for. Here's a good source for Mopar parts that is cheaper than the dealer prices... RADIATOR for 2004 Jeep Wrangler|55037652AA | WeRMopar
Yup that's the one I ordered. Actually got it for $209 shipped from a dealership through Amazon should be here in a few days. Hopefully that's the fix otherwise I'm going to pull my hair out lol.

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Old 06-22-2016, 07:50 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, mine came from a shop that has gone out of business, Dothan Alabama & Jacksonville FL, my first leaked after 2 years and they replaced it no questions asked, this one leaks a little, and will need to be replaced with some sort of quality radiator...if that still exists.

She was the only solution to keeping it cool down here with my AC on.
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Old 06-24-2016, 05:21 PM
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Well swapped out the radiators and what would you know. Pegged up to 215-217 with the AC on a couple times but she held steady around 206-213 depending if heat or AC was on and a solid 210.2 just riding around.


Time for a cold beer to celebrate. Hope this helps someone in the future. I'll post pics of the radiator later

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Old 06-24-2016, 05:45 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by mczern View Post
Well swapped out the radiators and what would you know. Pegged up to 215-217 with the AC on a couple times but she held steady around 206-213 depending if heat or AC was on and a solid 210.2 just riding around.


Time for a cold beer to celebrate. Hope this helps someone in the future. I'll post pics of the radiator later

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Congrats and enjoy the cold beer.....sit in your TJ with the AC on while drinking it. Your thread makes me miss my '04 TJ that I sold when I bought my JKU.

And thank you for your service.
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:36 PM
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Congrats and enjoy the cold beer.....sit in your TJ with the AC on while drinking it. Your thread makes me miss my '04 TJ that I sold when I bought my JKU.

And thank you for your service.

Sometimes I wish I had gone with a newer Jeep. I have a little boy so the TJ can be tight fitting but at the same time I'm thankful for how versatile it is and how much I have learned working on it. I don't doubt for the rest of my life I'll be able to handle probably 90% of car problems out there.

Besides TJs are getting cheaper and cheaper. Maybe in another 5-10 years you can pick one up for a project Jeep.
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:44 PM
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Added some photos of my old radiator and why I didn't think it was the issue. Yes the top looked dirty but there was hardly any debris in the fluid whenever I had done a flush.

The temps I was getting were insane before this; 226F WITH the heat on and 250s+ after driving around for 5-10 minutes with the AC on and at speed!!!

Also included some pictures of the damage caused by all the head issues. A bad head gasket contributed to a lot of the previous heat damage. Thank god I didn't have any oil or coolant mixing otherwise I may have been looking at more than just an engine rebuild.

I believe ALL of this was mostly caused by a $5 radiator cap that wasn't keeping pressure and caused me to redline a year ago.

Hopefully someone who has no experience with used vehicles will read this and make their first purchase a new radiator cap for any used vehicle. Lol.
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