Off-roading can put quite a strain on your truck, even in the best circumstances.
When yours is running the way it should, even when you’ve added mods like a 2019 Chevy 1500 Matrix front bumper, your truck shouldn't run too hot.
Yet if it does overheat, that's your indicator that something’s wrong and your truck needs some attention before you cause serious damage to the engine.
Overheating has many causes, some major and some minor.
To try and identify what’s causing your truck to overheat, explore this checklist of simpler problems first.
You may find the issue to be an easy fix that you can take care of yourself in minutes and if it’s not, it might be time to get a mechanic involved.
1. Check the Coolant Level
The simplest cause of overheating when off-roading is your coolant and water levels being too low.
Climb up on your newly-modded 2019 Dodge 1500 Matrix front bumper and make sure your reservoirs are properly filled so there’s more than enough coolant to supply the system.
If your coolant hasn’t been changed in a while, change it with a high-quality, extreme-duty engine coolant that won’t break down so fast.
2. Check the Radiator Cap and Hose
The radiator cap allows your truck’s cooling system to pressurize so the coolant flows through it as you drive.
Any loss of pressure from a damaged radiator cap gasket or a leak in the hose will reduce pressure in the system, thereby reducing the flow of coolant or allowing it to boil off.
Fortunately, both are very easy repairs; just replace a worn cap with an old or tattered gasket, do the same if there are any holes or cracks that could be letting air in or other signs of damage to the radiator hose.
3. Inspect the Fan Belts
The fan belts or serpentine belt on your truck’s engine turn to power the water pump, which pumps coolant through the cooling system.
Loose, stretched, worn, or cracking fan belts work with less efficiency and can even slide, reducing the power to the water pump.
Anytime the water pump is not performing well, cooling is compromised and overheating can occur.
If any of the above damage is present, replacing the belts with new ones should eliminate it.
4. Inspect the Fan Shroud
Another minor cooling system part that actually plays a significant role in keeping your engine cool is the fan shroud that surrounds the engine fan and funnels air directly onto the radiator to aid its cooling power.
If yours is missing, cracked, partially broken off, or something similar, it is allowing air to flow away from the radiator and reduce the efficiency of the fan.
Replacing a damaged fan is another easy task that will improve the effectiveness of the engine cooling system on your truck.
5. Test the Fan Clutch
The fan clutch is a device that runs the fan through power received from the water pump shaft.
Its purpose is to reduce the load the fan puts on the engine by shifting into faster or slower gears or turning off entirely as the fan is needed to cool the radiator.
Signs of a failing fan clutch that cannot power the fan efficiently include:
- Noises coming from the fan.
- Free-wheel turning.
- Rough turning or grinding when turned by hand with the engine off.
- Lateral looseness that allows the fan blades to shake.
- The fan does not increase or decrease speed when it should.
- Fluid leaking from the part.
- An air conditioner that fails to work.
6. Change the Engine Oil
Sometimes the cause of overheating can be as simple as engine oil that has degraded and is no longer preventing excess friction as well as it should be.
Change the oil and filter regularly and if you off-road, use an extreme-duty synthetic oil or oil additive to reduce engine friction as much as possible.
7. Other Minor Contributors to Overheating
A few other issues that can contribute to overheating due to high engine temperatures include:
- Engine compartment overcrowding.
- Engine tuning that results in not enough airflow.
- Engine boring that thins the metal and reduces the ability of the block to dissipate heat.
- A dirty engine that’s caked with mud or has a layer of grease and grime over.
Additionally, an obscure detail some may not know about is how the color of the engine if you decide to paint it to match your 2019 Ford Super Duty Matrix Front Bumper can affect its ability to diffuse and radiate heat.
The best color to paint it is black, as this has been scientifically proven to essentially draw some heat away from the motor and radiate it outside of the metal.
Before Assuming the Worst - Check Common Overheating Causes
Engine overheating is a concern that should be taken seriously even if the problem is only mild.
Fortunately, there are some simple, common reasons why your truck could be cooling less efficiently!
If the ideas on this list don’t take care of your overheating problem, it’s time to think about more serious issues in the next of this two-part series Off Road Truck Overheating? Part 2 - Major Issues to Check!