There are plenty of situations that can leave your rig stuck on the side of the road, from blown-out tires to catastrophic engine mechanical failures. While overheating might seem relatively minor in the grand scheme of potential problems that can bring your truck to its knees, this isn't a problem to take lightly. Allowing your semi to overheat can cause damage far more costly than a short tow.
Why Is Overheating So Dangerous?
The high-power diesel engines found in semi-trucks are significantly more durable than the consumer-grade motors found in passenger vehicles. These powerplants can take plenty of abuse, but they aren't invincible. Your truck's manufacturer designed its engine to operate within a specific range of temperatures, and pushing it beyond those limits can have severe consequences.
Temperatures that exceed your truck's safe limit can further damage its cooling system, potentially resulting in catastrophic radiator or cooling hose failures. Even worse, you can cause damage to internal components. While most heavy-duty diesel truck engines will not immediately fail if they overheat, prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause rapid degradation.
In severe cases, you may blow out a head gasket or even warp the cylinder head. You may also burn out the camshaft or crankshaft, and relatively small amounts of metal expansion can score the combustion chamber walls' interiors. All of these problems will require a full engine rebuild to repair. If the damage is severe enough, you may even be facing an early overhaul.
Common Causes of Overheating
Remember that overheating is a symptom, not a condition. A variety of underlying issues can cause your truck to run too hot, and these can range from relatively minor to incredibly serious. At the lower end of the scale, coolant problems can sometimes be to blame. Ensure that you change your coolant on a regular schedule and bleed the system to remove air bubbles.
Problems with the cooling system are another common factor for overheating semi-trucks. Leaking or plugged coolant lines, damaged radiator fins, or a malfunctioning radiator fan can all prevent your truck from maintaining an appropriate operating temperature. Extreme usage, such as traveling up tough grades or hauling a heavy load, can often exacerbate otherwise minor issues.
Unfortunately, internal issues with your engine can also result in overheating. If your head gasket has already failed, then coolant will not be able to flow through your engine correctly. This situation can cause your temperature gauge to spike even if there are no other apparent problems.
Avoid Costly Repairs
The best way to avoid the costly damage resulting from overheating is never to ignore temperature changes. If you notice your temperature gauge creeping beyond its normal limits, schedule an appointment with a trusted semi-truck mechanic as soon as possible. A small amount of preventative diagnosis and maintenance may save you from an eye-watering repair bill.
Contact an auto shop if you need semi truck repair.