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If the vehicle reaches operating temp ( where you normally have good heat ), and the heat is still slack I would suspect your heater core is partially blocked and a backflush would be the place to start. If your vehicle isn't reaching operating temps possibly a thermostat failure, or overcooling issue ( this is why you will see cars / trucks partially blocking radiator flow by means of a cover that's snapped on or some other means)
I'd still check the thermostat. Or basically just replace it. Have you ever drained all the antifreeze and flushed the system? Good time to do both. If the hose's get real hot that doesn't really mean the thermostat open. Wouldn't they get hot even if the thermostat didnt open.? If the thermostat was stuck open you'd would have cold air and low temp gauge. Then maybe hit a pump or something and have the thermostat stick closed and have high temp. Maybe water pump. Check it when you have the belt off. Spin, pull & push the water pump pulley around. I'd replaced my water pump at about 110,000 on a '97 dodge Dakota. My 97 never had a very good heater. Always heated up more after driving. Idle never got it warmed up.
No heat---replace thermostat and gasket,(it is stuck open)
Water pump--- is leaking,replace,why do you care where it comes from,it is the hole by the bearings
Remove and clean out coolant tank
Sounds as if the engine is not building up temp due to cooling system working. If engine temp gage is reading low try covering 1/3 of radiator with a piece of cardboard "Bumper side" to reduce the cooling effect.. just watch temp and out side temps if warming up outside or heavy driving remove the blocking to allow full cooling
First thing first, turn off the engine wait for 15 - 20 mints, open the radiator cap and fill it up to the top then start the engine and see if it needs more water adn add as needed, then wait till you ca see the water circulating in the radiator now instead of corculating if it starts boiling out shut the engine replace the thermostat and do the whole thing again.
unless there is water in the engine the gauge will not be able to show the actual temp of the engine, so always malke sure you have water / antifreeze