Question about 1997 Ford F150 Regular Cab

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I have a 97 f150 with 4.6l that repeatedly overheats, cools down, overheats, cools down while driving. The engine does not actually appear to be overheating during that time and cools down quickly enough to drive again within several minutes with no problems.. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Hello, gbh257 and thank you for asking your question on Fixya!

Here is a simple process that will walk you through a few steps that will pinpoint the overheating problem on your
97 f150, without even using any tools. It has helped millions of people, and I am certain that it will help you, because I wrote it for people in your exact situation.
How to diagnose an overheating Ford truck


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Posted on Jan 13, 2011

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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How to bleed cooling system on a 2000 Lincoln continental


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When idling my jeep overheats. The cooling fan is running and it speeds up when temperature goes up. The temperature gets close to 260 degrees and the engine tries to stall. when I start moving it cools...


At idling speed an engine does build up a lot of heat and the cooling fan will kick in. In slow moving traffic or traffic jams the temperature gauge can touch the red - particularly on hot days. The reason it cools down when you start moving is because of the air flow through the radiator.

Presumably there are no leaks from the cooling system otherwise you would have mentioned it. In normal circumstances the fan will not be running as you are driving at speed, as the air-flow through the radiator is sufficient to cool things. The fan only kicks in to get rid of excess heat - and this usually occurs at idling speed or after you have parked the car.

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It is common - in stationary traffic many cars overheat (particularly big engined models) try to stall and 'cut out'. Restarting can be difficult until the engine cools down.

Is your car overheating in normal driving conditions or just at idle speed? Overheating in normal driving conditions can be caused by things like a failing water pump, blocked radiator, collapsed hose, faulty thermostat or, in the worst case scenario, cylinder head problems.

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The question is how much does your car overheat in normal driving? If it doesn't .. it appears as though you have nothing to worry about as such. Most cars have 2 speed fans... the 2nd faster stage kicks in at some point dependant on engine temperature. Perfectly normal.

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While system is cold, add coolant to the radiator (if applicable) and the coolant tank. Then start the vehicle and turn the heater on high heat - full blast. Let run for 15 minutes or until the engine begins to overheat or the coolant tank become empty. Let the vehicle cool down (30 minutes) then repeat until it coolant level doesn't drop or engine doesn't overheat.
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Engine overheat


Hi and welcome to FixYa,

Offhand it would appear that the radiator fan is not working. In some versions, either the A/C or the heater must be turned on for the radiator fan to work. In some other incidents, the fan utilizes a clutch. Common design makes use of the inverse property of silica oil to serve as the clutch. Still others have a relay that actually does the switching on of the fan. Of course it would be to your advantage to likewise check the temperature sensor on the radiator.

Good luck and Thank you for using FixYa. Happy Holidays.

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You actually need the thermostat in to pressurize your cooling system or the coolant won't cyle through the radiator, it'll just cycle around the engine. Most people think without the thermostat in the coolant will just pump freely through the engine and radiator, but it doesn't.

Chuck in a new thermostat, purge the air out of the system and see if it overheats then. I gaurentee it won't, if it does then you've got head problems (but they should already be obvious by now).

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