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Common Reasons a Jeep Runs Hot and How to Fix

Common Reasons a Jeep Runs Hot and How to Fix

One of the most serious car problems that you can run into with your Jeep is if the Jeep starts to run hot.

The most common reason a Jeep will run hot is due to low oil or a coolant problem. Low coolant is usually because there is a leak somewhere in a hose, the reservoir, or the heater core. A failed engine thermostat or a blown head gasket are other common causes of overheating Jeeps.

If allowed to overheat, the Jeep’s engine can sustain long-term damage and even lock up entirely. Fixing the problem that is causing the overheating is key to preventing this outcome.

Reasons That Jeeps Overheat and Solutions for Repair

Jeeps can overheat from a wide range of different mechanical problems. These are some of the main reasons that Jeeps will overheat:

  • Low oil or oil leak
  • Malfunctioning radiator, coolant hose, or coolant reservoir
  • Failed engine thermostat
  • Broken heater core
  • Blown head gasket

Here’s a video showing one possible fix, with more info below:

Low Oil Can Cause a Jeep to Run Hot

Low oil levels in your Jeep’s oil reservoir can cause the Jeep to overheat since the lubrication in the engine oil is what prevents friction from building up in the engine’s moving parts.

Here are some of the symptoms of low oil in a Jeep other than overheating:

  • Burning oil smell
  • Oil light on the dashboard
  • Knocking noises coming from the engine
  • Less fuel efficiency

To figure out whether your Jeep is running low on oil or not, check the oil level on the dipstick. If the dipstick is dry or the oil falls below the recommended levels, perform an oil change.

An oil change can also tell you whether your oil reservoir is leaking since fresh oil will cause an oil spot to gather below the engine if an oil leak is occurring.

If the engine is leaking oil, the Jeep will need repairs to find and fix the leak to prevent further overheating.

Radiator Problems Can Cause a Jeep to Run Hot

Another common issue that causes a Jeep to overheat is problems with the radiator. Radiator problems can take some of the following forms:

  • Radiator leak: Some radiator leaks can be solved by adding Radiator Leak Sealant (link to Amazon). Sealant is designed to work as a temporary fix, not a permanent solution.
  • Bad radiator fan clutch: If a radiator fan clutch goes bad, this can cause it to run indefinitely, leading to engine noise and engine overheating.
  • Clogged radiator fan: When the radiator fins become clogged with exterior debris, this can cause the coolant to not work as efficiently.

To inspect for radiator problems, access the engine compartment and inspect the radiator, coolant hose, and coolant reservoir for obvious leaks.

The coolant level of the radiator should also be checked and refilled as necessary.

If any parts are found to have a crack or corrosion, they should be removed and replaced. Once a coolant reservoir leaks, chances are it will continue to do so even after the leak is repaired.

A Failed Thermostat Can Cause a Jeep to Run Hot

Thermostat failures can be seen in many Jeep models as a cause of overheating. When the thermostat doesn’t fully close, it can fail to regulate the engine’s temperature properly.

A failed thermostat in a Jeep will present with the following symptoms:

  • Overheating
  • Problems with the Jeep’s cabin heater
  • Coolant leaks
  • Check engine indicator in dashboard

In most cases, the only real solution to a faulty thermostat in a Jeep is to replace the thermostat.

The cost of parts and labor on replacing a Jeep thermostat typically runs between $350 and $400. (Source: Repair Pal)

A Clogged Heater Core Can Cause a Jeep to Run Hot

A clogged heater core is another component malfunction that can eventually lead to your Jeep running hot.

Here are some of the symptoms of a clogged heater core that is causing a Jeep to run hot:

  • Foggy cabin interior
  • Coolant loss
  • Sweet smell in cabin (similar to maple syrup)
  • Engine running hot, but the cabin interior is cold

If a heater core is leaking and causing the Jeep to overheat, stop leak can be used to stop the coolant leak and keep the engine cool.

The heater core can also be replaced or bypassed in the engine’s wiring. However, this solution requires a working knowledge of the Jeep’s electrical circuits.

Blown Head Gaskets Cause Overheating in Jeeps

A blown head gasket is among the most serious problems that can cause overheating in Jeeps. Symptoms that you have a blown head gasket in your Jeep include the following signs:

  • Knocking noises from the engine
  • Low coolant levels or obvious coolant leaks beneath the vehicle carriage
  • Engine overheating
  • White smoke coming from the tailpipe during operation

A Jeep with a blown head gasket should not be driven, as this can cause serious damage to the engine itself.

A blown head gasket should be either repaired with head gasket sealer by a mechanic or replaced if the leak is severe enough.

Can You Drive a Jeep When It’s Running Hot?

If your Jeep begins to run hot, you should immediately pull over onto the shoulder of the road and allow the engine to cool off before taking the vehicle straight to an automotive repair shop.

Driving a Jeep while the engine is overheating is not recommended at all. (Source: Firestone Complete Auto Care)

Even after just a few minutes, this can cause the pistons in the engine to seize and eventually damage the engine beyond all repair.

While it’s tempting to try to limp your Jeep to a mechanic rather than call a tow truck, in severe overheating situations it’s better to eat the tow fee than pay for the cost of a new engine.

How to Troubleshoot a Jeep That’s Running Hot

There are troubleshooting methods you can use if your Jeep is running hot that can help you determine what the underlying cause of the mechanical problem is and how to fix it.

Here are some of the troubleshooting steps you should take:

  • Check the oil on the Jeep and do an oil change. Checking the oil levels can let you know whether your Jeep is losing oil in an oil leak.
  • Check the condition of the Jeep’s cabin. If the engine is blowing hot but the cabin is ice cold or smells sweet, this points you in the condition of a heater core issue.
  • Check the codes in the dashboard. If warning lights come in the dashboard, get them checked to narrow down the cause of the overheating problem.
  • Don’t test drive the Jeep while it’s overheating. If your Jeep is overheating after just a few moments of operation, don’t risk test driving it.

Most of the reasons that a Jeep runs hot have the potential to cause significant damage to your Jeep’s engine if it is driven hot.

Only an experienced home mechanic should attempt to locate and solve an overheating issue themselves.

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Jeep Overheating Is a Serious Mechanical Problem

An overheating Jeep can be the result of many different mechanical sources, but regardless of what is causing your Jeep to overheat, it’s a smart idea to take the problem seriously.

If left uncorrected, an overheating Jeep can quickly become a Jeep that doesn’t run at all.

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