Question about 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 Club Cab

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No interior heat / engine overheated 97 dodge ram 1500

Jumped in my truck and headed down the hiway ; after about 15 kms ; I noticed that the interior of the truck was still cold , then I noticed the engine temp getting hotter than normal. There wasn't any smell. There was a weird light "clunking" noise that seem to come from the heat vents ??
Pulled over and checked for antifreeze leaks , the coolant in the coolant resevoir seemed to be bubbling. There didn't seem to be leaking profusely from anywhere... anyway ; I had it towed to the Chrysler dealership. I have to call them and tell them it got towed there on the weekend. My husband is out of town and I don't want the shop to tell me a big story... anyone out there that could suggest what the problem may be before I O.K. the repair ?
Thanking You in advance for your time !

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  • pammylynn2 Feb 17, 2009

    I keep the truck running smoothly all the time. I had the rad flushed about a year ago.The clunking noise was similar to ... like a sucking noise that hit an air bubble ; then the engine temp went down sightly.It did that about 3 times.

  • pammylynn2 Feb 17, 2009

    I just finished speaking with the Chrysler service department , I indicated that I haven't been leaking coolant ( I don't drive that much and there isn't any coolant on the garage floor). I asked them to start with the thermostat and then go from there.While waiting for a tow truck ; there wasn't any coolant under the vehicle either , there was fluid in the resevoir and rad.
    There weren't any "check engine" or other warning lights that came on during this process ; so running a diagnostic would be $$ out the window ; no ?


  • pammylynn2 Feb 17, 2009

    Yep... head gasket job ; 2500 bucks.
    Is it worth it ?


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Coolant runs through the heater core regardless of whether or not the thermostat is open or closed. Otherwise your heat would work poorly in cold weather as the heater would stop working each time the thermostat closed to let the vehicles engine maintain the necessary temperature for efficient operation.

Thermostats also don't make noise when they open or close, so the noise you're hearing is not the thermostat.

The noise you're hearing is probably air moving through the cooling system. This happens when you're radiator is low on coolant. The same coolant that keeps your engine cool is also what delivers heat to your heater core. When the system becomes too low on coolant, there's nothing to transfer that heat away from the engine so the engine overheats and the heater stops working. There is probably a little coolant still in the system, which is why you're hearing noises as the water pump continues to try and pump whatever it can. As bubbles of coolant make it through the system, you'll notice the engine temperature fluctuate up and down.

Often times in older vehicles, the fill line that runs from the plastic reservoir to the radiator becomes plugged, so you may have plenty of fluid in the reservoir while the radiator may be nearly empty. You have a very slow leak somewhere. I have a slow leak on an old Jeep of mine, and it runs fine until one day the level of coolant drops below the point where the water pump can easily pump it, and I begin to experience the exact symptoms you describe: Strange noises, heater doesn't work, engine temp runs hot then falls, etc.

Another possibility is that your water pump is damaged. A damaged water pump will not pump well, preventing coolant from flowing through the system. As the pump spins very quickly since it's driven off the engine, a damaged or out of balance pump can often make pretty noticeable noises.

Posted on Feb 17, 2009

  • Jeremy Feb 17, 2009

    The computer codes are set by things the computer can sense/detect. The computer doesn't detect radiator fluid levels, thermostat operation, plugged radiator, failing water pump, or things of that nature. So running a computer diagnosis would probably be a waste of time. If you were going to do that, you could take it to a place like Auto Zone and they will do it for free.

    If the engine is overheating and the heater is not working, coolant is not getting pumped through the system, period. It's unlikely to be a plugged radiator or a bad thermostat because these things don't affect the heater core.


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From your description i would say the thermostat stuck closed, no heat, running hot, boiling in resavor, thermostat bad, replace. must of got real hot to makes that kind of clunking noise, I just hope for your sake thats all it is, of course i don't know the history of the truck, but right now it sounds like thermostat. There is an outside chance it could be a head gasget, cracked head, pluged radiator, thies are all worst case sanareo.

Posted on Feb 17, 2009

  • ccn7 Feb 17, 2009

    That noise was most likely the thermostat opening up late, better have it changed, before one day it dosent open and does some real damage.

  • cpayne33 Oct 28, 2010

    i had the exact same probs with mine but when i finally parked it was smoking really bad and i noticed there was coolant all over my engine....wtf what do i do?

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