How to Troubleshoot a Silverado Overheatingby Gregory Crews
The Chevrolet Silverado is a rugged truck that is made for a tough workload. Coolant system failure can eventually cause major engine damage as running the truck hot can lead to head gasket failure or loss of power eventually causing the motor to stop running. Troubleshooting your coolant system, when the problems are minor, will save you time and money in the long run.
Allow the truck 30 minutes to cool down. The coolant system will be under pressure when it is first turned off.
Open the hood to access the engine compartment. Locate the radiator in front of the engine compartment.
Twist the radiator cap counterclockwise to remove it from the radiator. Once the cap is off, check the coolant level. The coolant should be visible by looking down in the radiator. If you do not see any coolant, then you will want to test for leaks.
Lease a pressure tester from your local auto parts store. The pressure tester places enough pressure on the system to push coolant out of the leaking area.
Tighten the end of the pressure tester on the radiator. The end of the tester looks like the pressure cap. When the tester is tightened to the radiator, pump the handle until it reads 15 pounds or the psi indicated on the pressure cap. Once the system is pressurized, watch the gauge and observe if it is slowly dropping. If the pressure is dropping, then look at the hoses and radiator to see if any coolant is pouring out of these areas. If these areas are dry, inspect the water pump assembly. Coolant will escape out of the "weep hole" if the water pump is going bad. The water pump is located above the main shaft and is on the drive belt path.
Inspect the thermostat if there are no coolant leaks. Allow the truck to run with the pressure cap tightened on the radiator. Watch the gauge as it is running; when it is overheating, turn on the heater. Turning on the heater will make the temperature gauge drop; then you will know that your thermostat is freezing and not allowing the coolant to circulate. The thermostat is a very quick and easy item to replace.
- When your truck is overheating, make sure the coolant level is full before testing. Fill the radiator with coolant and allow the truck to run for 20 minutes. This will determine if the coolant level is low, causing the truck to overheat.
- Use extreme caution when working with the coolant system. The coolant is very hot and builds pressure which could be hazardous.
Items you will need
- Pressure tester
- 1 gallon pre-mix coolant
- "Troubleshooting Professional" magazine; Anatomy of an Overheat; Steve Litt; April 2002
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