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1998 F-150 4.6L Overheating Towing in Summer


Old 07-15-2017, 05:02 PM
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1998 F-150 4.6L Overheating Towing in Summer


I have a 1998 F-150 XLT, 4.6L V8, automatic, and 170K miles. I've been towing a relatively light 2004 Tracker Pro Team 185 boat that weighs around 2,000 lbs (boat + trailer). I've been towing the boat using this truck for around 18 months now.

I made a run to the lake yesterday, which involves around 50 miles (one way) of most highway and some stop/go traffic. Some of the driving includes mountains and hills.

Last summer I noticed that the truck would get hot on the way home only when pulling off the highway near my house. When I got off the highway and came to a red light, coolant temperature would climb quickly. The temp has not redlined--I've been able to catch it control the engine temp by running the heater at full blast.

Yesterday, the truck started overheating through the mountains and periodically on the highway. Yesterday's temp was hot with the heat index around 100F. I had to turn the heat on for over half the drive. Not fun for creature comforts in that heat, but it's better than an overheated engine.

I bought this truck from my brother to tow my boat. When I bought it, the truck was a bit neglected but in overall good shape. I put a couple months into maintenance before I started towing. Some of that maintenance was flushing the cooling system and replacing the water pump, thermostat, and the radiator fan clutch (all around 18 months ago). Everything appears to be working fine when not towing; the temperature runs just below half of the way up the temperature gauge when not under load.

To summarize, the cooling system performance has gotten worse in the last 12 months. I'm inclined to replace the original/OEM radiator with what appears to be a more effective one (thinking of the SPECTRA CU2165).

What do you guys think? Replace the radiator? Flush the cooling system again first? Any thoughts are welcomed.

Thanks in advance,
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:38 PM
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I think I'd replace the radiator with a larger unit, maybe one for the 7700 truck. Does your truck have a transmission oil cooler? If not put a big one on it.
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Old 07-15-2017, 10:01 PM
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I'd be tempted to not only get a bigger radiator, but maybe do an e-fan conversion.

The Spectra 2165 is a good choice.
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Old 07-16-2017, 01:14 AM
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Agree with Roadie and glc regarding the radiator. I'm sure with a truck that old, that some of the tubes in your radiator are clogged, or have accumulated a coating that reduces the heat transfer capability. I also like the idea of a transmission cooler if you don't have one.

I'm less sold on the idea of e-fans. I have them in my 2014 truck and think they are great, but things I've read about e-fan conversions make me think the process is not always a joyful success. The problems I recall center around the controller for the fans. This may have been overcome, naturally - do some research.

- Jack
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:05 AM
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And use distilled water in the 50/50 mix in the cooling system. Tap water sometimes has lots of calcium that plates out on the cooling system surfaces and reduces cooling efficiency.
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