2001 Dodge Durango 4x4 Overheating.

I have a 2001 Dodge Durango 4x4 overheating.

When I start the engine, there is no noise out of the ordinary. When the heat gauge gets to approximately 10 o’clock, there seems to be a regular dull tapping/thud, coming from the right side.

When the gauge gets to approximately 12 o’clock, the tapping may be worse, but it definitely is just as bad.

The Youtube link, shows exactly how my truck is set up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C88q8eBhALo

At 12 o’clock, gauge wise, steam starts to come out from underneath the shiny cap. At this point, I turned the vehicle off.

A week or so ago, I lost a lot of liquid, maybe a gallon or more, and stopped driving it. I’m excluding the water pump, just because there are no irregular sounds for the first 5 minutes or so.

Can anybody here give me a quick diagnosis?


Oops, sorry, meant to say that at 00:25, the video shows exactly the setup of my vehicle.

Not enough information to go on.

  • Where did the lost fluid come from?
  • Did you top up the level after it lost fluid?
  • Your radiator (shiny) cap shouldn’t be venting steam; it should have a perfect seal.
  • The video shows a thermostat replacement. This may be what you need.
  • Is there white smoke coming from the tail pipe? If so, you may have a blown head gasket.

Does the gauge or high-temp warning light actually indicate overheating, or are you just concerned about the noise?

Sorry, dozed off, just woke up.

  1. Under hood, cannot find any leak (turned vehicle off once gauge reached 12 oclock, and steam started.)
  2. Topped it up before starting it today (today was the first time I actually looked at it).
  3. No smoke.


Sorry, dozed off and just woke up.

The 12 oclock on the gauge was the highest I have ever seen it, and the liquid got out of the system. I smelled anti-freeze about a mile from home last week, and, the morning after I got home, I saw that there was anti-freeze on the driveway. Noise doesn’t start until the engine is warmed up, so, it doesn’t really concern me that much, since I’m guessing it relates to whatever is making overheated liquid come out.

I wrote that the tapping seemed to be coming from the right side: I should have said “Driver’s side”, since right could be either side, depending on perspective.


That is, no smoke from tailpipe. There had been antifreeze on the driver’s side, underhood, as i guess it came out and got blown by fan.

I never saw any leaking other than the steam in 1st post.


The noise could be from your water pump. If the seal and bearing is gone, it can be wobbling and making noise. Though I think it should be constant, as soon as you start the engine. Also it would be leaking if it was that bad.

If it is the thermostat, the noise might start when the engine gets hot enough to start detonating. High pressure from the overheat will cause the radiator cap to leak, vent steam. But you won’t lose a lot of coolant. The steam can condense in an area of the engine compartment far from the cap.

Pull the engine dipstick and check for a milk shake like appearance. That would indicate a blown head gasket and water in the oil. Put a new radiator cap on, as said above, nothing should come out, it goes to an overflow jug. You usually won’t notice when a water pump starts to fail, the coolant that comes out will evaporate. Since you have lost a lot of coolant, you may have an airlock in the top end of the engine, sounds like the noise is from when the thermostat is opening and the water is hitting the impeller, or could be cavitation from the airlock.

I have an '01 Dakota. Mine has the 4.7 V-8, I don’t know what your Durango has. I wonder if your radiator cap is bad, because it shouldn’t leak there. This would cause you to lose a good amount of coolant when it gets hot, I had to figure out this issue myself.

The tapping noise…is there any chance it’s your radiator fan? Listen close and watch it with the hood up. I’m pretty sure most Daks/Durangos had a clutch fan which doesn’t kick in til the temp gets high enough. Mine does anyway. There are specific Dakota/Durango message boards out there if you can’t figure it out.

Update: I waited some many weeks before even looking at it after the last post.

So, I got a new radiator cap and put it on. The vehicle started right up; after running 5-10 minutes, I tried to restart it, with no success, BUT, there was no leaking from the radiator cap, so, I knew things were looking up. I mentioned it to somebody at work, and he said that a low radiator on a hot Durango engine would trigger sensors that would keep it from starting. I went into the “pipe/tube” part of the system and put new coolant into there, since the “radiator” looked full.
I checked oil and it wasn’t foamy, BUT, I then decided to add oil. I pulled the oil cap off and found that the funnel part of the place to pour oil into had a milkshake foam all around the wall! Talk about effing weird, with much sorrow! I wiped the wall out, as best I could. I then, rather than break my heart further, just decided to leave the whole thing for a few more weeks, since this was my backup vehicle.
At any rate I decided that if there was a blown head gasket I didn’t give a shit, since I was tired of messing with vehicle technology newer than 1969, and wasn’t going to pay the price of a headgasket repair for a 15 year old truck, and said to myself that I would just drive it till it drops.

I started it up yesterday, waited for it to get warm, and, then, restarted it. It worked like a charm. Took it driving around town, and, no problems. Rechecked the oil, and there was still no foam down there, and rechecked the funnel part and the remaining foam had pretty much dried. I also checked for the tapping sound, and, the offensive one that I referenced earlier seems to have disappeared, but, since it’s an old truck with plenty of taps in it, I couldn’t be sure. But, I don’t care!

tl;dr, replaced the radiator cap, added coolant, and this rascal runs great.

Thanks for all of your help, guys!

Gak! What a retard I am; I couldn’t find where I put the “won’t restart when it’s hot”, part in the original posts, so, I apologize profusely. Or, maybe it was afterward that I discovered that part…I’m so confused!

A real common problem on cooling systems is an owner will become paranoid about overheating and keep adding coolant or water. A lot of vehicles will simply blow off the excess. Always a good idea to let the car stabilize at a temperature and keep running it for a while. Keep an eye out that it is not getting too hot of course.

The foam around the oil filler cap opening is actually a common occurrence on the Dak/Durango, at least in the 4.7 engine that I know. I’ve seen it mentioned off and on in various message boards for those trucks and it seems to be a consensus that it’s normal for those engines.

If you pull the dipstick and the engine oil looks like a milkshake, then yes you have major issues!

Excellent! Thanks.

Totally bizarre. I had thought that there must have been some leakage into it when the engine had overheated,but, the cap was on so tight that I had to go get a monkey wrench to loosen it.

Thanks for letting me know!

It’s from moisture in the air drawn into the valve cover area by the PCV system.

Try a new radiator cap first. They are cheap, and it may be the fix. Make sure the plastic overflow container is properly filled with coolant and the induction hose is attached and the screen is clean.