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Old 09-08-2014, 04:08 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Getting a Little Hot in Summer

As you can probably see from my signature, I've got an aging TV (2001 Silverado 2500HD) but I've taken very good care of it and only rolled about 165K miles so far. I've also customized almost every inch of it myself including but not limited to: upgraded trans cooler, new engine heads and valves, upgraded alternator, stereo upgrades, rhino liner, nerf bars, HID headlights with projectors, all LED bulbs, Amsoil in almost everything (yes even break fluid but not the anti-freeze) the list is longer..you get the idea. The last RV trip we took was to the OBX here in NC and the weather was very warm (high 90s). My TV works hard but tows our 8500 lbs 5er through this mostly flat land with ease for the most part until the temps get up in the high 90s...then I start seeing my coolant and trans temps soar up. On the way back from the OBX, I saw my engine coolant go to 230 on some of the longer slopes and trans temps were hovering at 200. My TV came stock with both a trans cooler and oil cooler. I've upgraded the trans cooler to a Hayden HD with an electric fan w/thermostat and the tranny is running Amsoil fluid so I'm not worried about the it so much. But the engine has upgraded HP mods (headers, intake, programmer, heads, valvetrain) and even tough I've never put it on a dyno...I can estimate there's another 60-75 HP on the crank. That power increase has resulted in more heat and even though GM says towing temps are normal up to 260...I don't even like seeing 230. Has anyone else seen things this hot. I just recently added the Amsoil Dominator coolant boost to the system but I've not towed with it yet...looking for anybody who might have had a similar experience.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:52 PM   #2
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Radiators get plugged up over time. I would put a new one (or reman) with a new thermostat in it.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:58 PM   #3
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I'd be more worried about EGT getting too high. Your fan may be getting a little weak also.
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by wwsmith111 View Post
Radiators get plugged up over time. I would put a new one (or reman) with a new thermostat in it.
Yeah, radiators can get plugged on the inside with scale and the outside with bugs and road dirt. Although, I'm pretty sure that is not my issue...I've flushed my radiator with super flush at the recommended intervals, replaced the water pump recently, and every season I blow out the fins with compressed air and dig out any lodged debris. I do think one of my e-fans is weak...although the fans don't contribute much at 65 mph. But, on the other hand, if I did replace the radiator...I'd want to install an upgraded one to handle the increased heat output. Has anyone done that? I know the 8.1L V8
has a larger radiator core...just don't know if it would fit in the front mount.
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:59 AM   #5
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Both temps you are seeing are perfectly normal and nothing to get worried about. You only have to worry about trans temps when they are over 220 for extended periods. Short bursts over 220 are not a problem.

There isn't really a lot you can do about it.
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:09 AM   #6
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I am no expert in this area. But last year I thought my radiator temp was a bit higher than I liked on a long trip during hot summer days. The radiator looked fairly clean, but I stopped into a do it yourself carwash a couple days into the trip, and power washed the exterior of the radiator (be careful not to damage the radiator). I saw a lot of dirt come off. After that the engine temp stayed very stable, even pulling through steep mountain grades.
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:07 AM   #7
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First have your Radiator checked out.
Another reason could be a restricted exhaust. I had to have my cat converters replaced about at the same mileage. A good exhaust man can tell you by looking into them with a camera or by a back pressure test. Hope it is something simple. My truck never hits 200 degrees even with 100 degrees Texas heat and towing through the hill country.
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:21 AM   #8
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As an ASE certified mechanic and working at a GM dealership when your truck came out, and seeing many with the same complaint, I will put money on your coolant fan clutch is warn out. When this happens, the fan cannot get up to speed to cool the antifreese in the radiator enough to bring temps down to "normal". The aftermarket (napa, autozone, advance) all sell regular and heavy duty coolant fan clutches. You see this alot in the winter (here in Michigan) where a guy running around with his snow plow up overheats because the clutch didn't engauge and pull the cool air through the radiator because the plow was blocking the normal air flow.
I'm not saying you couldn't be having some of the other problems listed above, but it is pretty common for those clutches to fail.
Be prepared! When you put a new clutch on, you most likely will notice your fuel mileage go down. Again, this is normal because when the clutch is working correctly, you are putting more "drag" on the engine therefor consuming a bit more fuel. There are kits out there to convert from a mechanical fan, to electric fans. That may be something to check into if you are worried about fuel mileage...
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:53 AM   #9
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I will just add this for comparison. This summer in mid to upper 80's I was pulling down I-81, I-77 and I-40 through some steep 6-8% climbs and decends like I-40 in Ashville and my engine hit 238 on the coolant and 235 on the oil. But on the downside it cooled 30 degrees in 3-4 miles and while on the flats it would hover around 200 with it being mostly in the 190's. When on a climb my engine would push 2800 and temps would slowly increase. Did you get fluctuations and rapid ones at that? If your fan and radiator are working you should see rapid changes over 210 when on the flats and cruise speeds.

Now mine is another manufacturer, but just to give you some indication of how my temps fluctuate. My tranny never goes over 190 and hovers in the 165 range, but I understand GMs run hotter and it could be as simple as where the guage is located too.

I would invest in Plowtoys suggestion first then see where it takes you as it seems you are on top of your fluids maintenance pretty well. Also it's possible that your thermostat is sticking. Maybe put a 185 in there.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:05 AM   #10
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Also it's possible that your thermostat is sticking. Maybe put a 185 in there.
X2 - looking at your apparent skill level, probably not necessary to suggest this, but sometimes the simplest things get over looked.
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