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Old 04-16-2011, 11:53 AM   #1
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Overheating 2000 Discovery Diesel

I just purchased a 2000 Fleetwood Discovery with the Cummins diesel engine. Traveling home across country, I found that everytime I went up a steep grade, it would overheat immediately. I had to keep adding coolant and water (approx. 1 qt. per hour). Does anyone have any suggestions as to what would cause this?
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
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Hmmmm.... until I got to the part about adding coolant every hour I was going to suggest that you should downshift to keep the RPM around 2000 which is along the line of what Cummins recommends and works for many of us. Is there no sign of coolant leaking other than having to keep adding? Hopefully our diesel experts will chime in but it doesn't sound good to me if coolant is disappearing without a sign of leaking. I'm thinking the tailpipe is the only other place it has to go.

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Old 04-16-2011, 02:34 PM   #3
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The rear radiator may need cleaning.
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:40 PM   #4
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No, there is no sign of coolant leaking, yet it has to be going somewhere...? That was what worried me also.
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Old 04-16-2011, 03:04 PM   #5
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Check oil dip stick & transmission dip stick for water.
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Old 04-16-2011, 06:09 PM   #6
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Cracked head?
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:04 PM   #7
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Going up especially step hills there is less air flow through radiator, how hot did it get. Does it get hot and lose coolant on level ground?
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:11 PM   #8
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If you're adding 1 qt/hr coolant to your radiator, you clearly have a leak somewhere. It may be external (leaking outside the coolant system) or internal (consuming coolant in the engine). Get it checked out.

As others have suggested, cleaning the radiator is a periodic maintenance issue, but it sounds your issues are more than a dirty radiator.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:12 PM   #9
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Sounds like leaking head gasket. Check for steam coming from exhaust.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramzfan View Post
I just purchased a 2000 Fleetwood Discovery with the Cummins diesel engine. Traveling home across country, I found that everytime I went up a steep grade, it would overheat immediately. I had to keep adding coolant and water (approx. 1 qt. per hour). Does anyone have any suggestions as to what would cause this?
The Cummins is probably the most forgiving of all diesels for some slight overheating. But remember diesels will not tolerate overheating like a gasoline engine will. Continued overheating will destroy the engine and that will be very expensive. Most all motorhome have to slow down and downshift in the mountains unless you have a Newell with a 600HP motor but that is out of my league.

There are several possibilities but first a couple questions:
1. Where are you adding the coolant, recovery bottle or radiator? It is possible that expansion is causing you to loose that much. Your system should contain 7 gallons or more, so 1 quart is not much.

2. If you do not add a quart and go twice as far does it take 2 quarts?

3. From your write up I assume you do not have to add coolant when not in the mountains, is that correct?

4. What kind of fan does it have, fluid drive from the power steering system or viscus fan clutch?

5. Is there debris in the fins of the radiator? Look in the corners down near the bottom.

6. Is the coolant in the radiator clean and not cloudy?

7. Have you checked the nitrate concentration and PH of the coolant?

8. Just how hot does it get? Does the overheating warning sound? 225 degrees is not unusual pulling hard in the mountains.

9. Do you downshift and keep the engine RPMs up?

10. Are you towing and if so what?

Let me know and I will endeavor to help you with all the information I can
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:45 AM   #11
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Do you have a bad radiator cap? No pressure, higher coolant temps under load, poor seal and coolant can be pushed out as it expands. Do you have any external signs of coolant stains?

Quick, easy check for a blown head gasket is to have your garage stick their exhaust three gas/four gas emissions analyzer probe in the space above the coolant in either the radiator or expansion tank with the engine running - depending on configuration - and do a sniff test. The old GM 8.2 diesel was notorious for blown headgaskets. That method saved us countless labor hours analyzing that problem.
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:05 PM   #12
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The ISB on a Discovery is famous to need a slobber tube put on it and a good cleaning of the CAC & radiator. Every year or two.

Even after you find the coolant loss problem. Those should be done.
Hope you didn't buy one with the "53" engine block. Look on the bottom side of the engine block for any seepage. Not all "53" go bad. I have one in mine.

On any long climb manual downshift to keep RPM around 2,000-2,100.
Never let the transmission hunt.

You can get a lot of information and help at Discovery Owners for any problems.
But admit I have never seen anyone with a D have that much of a coolant loss.
And not see any sign where it was going.
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Old 04-17-2011, 09:42 PM   #13
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Hi.& thanks for the help. To answer your questions, I will take them one by one:
1. I am adding the coolant/water to the expansion tank on top of the radiator.
2. Most of the time, I wait and add the coolant/water after several hours. I just divided the no. of hours that I drive by how many quarts I have to add.
3. I only have to add coolant/water when the light says "low water". Sometimes I stop and add it when I know there is a steep grade coming up.
4. As far as the type of fan, I don't know. Like I said, I just bought this motorhome in So. Carolina and drove it back to Reno, Nevada.
5. No debris in the corners of the radiator.
6. Coolant/water appears clear.
7. No, I have not checked the nitrate or ph of the coolant.
8. It gets so hot that the red temperature light comes on and then the check engine light.
9. No, I was only downshifting from 6th gear to 5th. I was not aware until today that I should be keeping the RPM's at 2000 or above. This is my first Diesel MH and it did not come with manuals.
10. Yes, I am towing a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Now that I am home, I am going to look into all of the info I can get my hands on. I was very careful not to drive it with the hot engine. Whenever the light would come on or after a while, I would anticipate when it was going to come on, I would pull over and let it idle until it cooled down and then I would start up the hill again.
I really appreciate all of the comments here as they are helping an old gas engine motorhomer learn the in's and out's of diesels. Thanks everyone!
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:32 PM   #14
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OK some basics,

First if you are mechanically inclined, get a pressure tester and pressurize the system when it is cold. The hose fittings are more prone to leak and easier to find when cold. Many times they just need tightened. And don't forget the heater hoses at the block and at the heater box itself. The coooling system should hold pressure for an hour and only drop 2 lbs. Pump it to the pressure stated on the cap, usually 13 or 15 lbs. Test the cap also, but pump the cap up slowly. If you pump the cap too fast it will hide a leaky seal.

Get coolant test strips. WIX makes them and should be available from any major parts house. NAPA sells them also. Check the PH and nitreate concentration. Check the clarity of the coolant, there should not be a rusty tinge or cloudiness to it. If ther is it needs flushed and replaced. If the nitrate level is off WIX Cool will treat that. It is critical in diesels to watch this as the coolant will eat through the cylinder walls through cavatation if not cared for.

Watch the fan when the engine is warm. Have someone rev up the engine as you watch it and see if it speeds up and should almost roar. Most likely it has a viscus fan clutch and they do fail.

Check for debris between the charge air cooler and the radiator. If you have an infared thermometer, check the temperature of the radiator different spots to find a cold spot indicating it is restricted internally.

As for head gasket, it would probably overheat on the highway without going up a hill, if the gasket were blown. That does not mean there could not be a small leak between the block and head where the gasket has failed allowing it to loose coolant, but there should be tracks down the side of the block.

Learning to drive a diesel in the mountains is critical. I am a retired Fire Truck Mechanic and have worked on trucks and cars all my adult life. I find a lot of people do not understand the need to keep the RPS up when pulling. If a diesel is allowed to "lug" or pull very hard at low rps it will destroy itself in a relatively short time. Lots of dollars go away when that happens! The Allison transmission does not compensate like a car transmission does and you need to manually downshift to keep the engine cooler and back off the throttle to keep from over reving the engine. Learn to take it easy, some will pass you and most likely you will pass some on the long pulls, that is normal.

So pressure test to find the source of coolant loss and drive it like a truck and you should be good on the highways. Good luck and let us know if you find a leak. See ya on the road!
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