AWD High Temp Stop Vehicle: Most Common Causes and Issues

AWD High Temp Stop Vehicle

All-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles can sometimes experience higher than the normal engine operating temperatures, especially in demanding conditions. 

Persistent overheating can lead to severe engine damage if left unchecked. 

This article shares the common causes and solutions for elevated engine temps in AWD vehicles.

Causes of High Engine Temperature in AWD Vehicles

Insufficient Coolant Levels

  • It is critical to check both the coolant reservoir. And the radiator to confirm that the proper fill levels are under the consideration. 
  • Running low on coolant reduces the system’s heat transfer capabilities and cooling capacity. 
  • If coolant levels are visible to be low during the inspection. Top up the system with the manufacturer-recommended coolant formula to bring it back up to the proper level. 
  • Continuously monitor the coolant levels over time. And watch for any leaks that may develop by addressing any issues promptly as they arise.

Cooling System Leaks

  • One of the most common causes of overheating issues is when the coolant has access to escape through leaks in the cooling system. 
  • Cracked hoses, a failing water pump, or leaks at the radiator. And various gasket connections can all enable the coolant to leak out over time. 
  • Thoroughly and visually inspect all the hoses, the water pump, the radiator, and the gasket connections. To check for any evidence of wetness or dripping that may indicate a leak. 
  • If no leaks are readily visible, pressure testing the entire cooling system can help you to identify any small leaks. That may be harder to find through just a visual inspection alone. 
  • Any identified leaks in the system should be repaired immediately to prevent ongoing coolant loss and overheating.

Cooling Fan Malfunction

  • Electric cooling fans plays an important role in pulling air through the radiator to aid cooling, especially at lower driving speeds. 
  • If the fan is not functioning properly, the airflow and the cooling capacity through the radiator will be drastically reduced. 
  • Testing the activation points for the fan and inspecting any related fuses or relays can help you to diagnose any fan issues. 
  • If testing confirms that the fan itself is faulty or failing, replacement of the entire fan assembly may be required to restore the proper operation.

Thermostat Failure

  • A faulty thermostat, especially one that is stuck completely closed, will prevent the coolant from properly circulating through the engine. 
  • This flow blockage causes inefficient cooling. If the engine consistently fails to reach the optimal operating temperature, the thermostat should be replaced; as this is a strong indicator, that it is not functioning properly.

Loose/Slipping Serpentine Belt

  • The serpentine belt plays a crucial role as it powers the water pump by ensuring the circulation of coolant throughout the cooling mechanism.
  • A loose belt that is slipping can drastically reduce the coolant flow, which causes the cooling capacity to drop and the temperature to rise. 
  • Closely inspect the belt’s condition for any cracks or wear and check the belt’s tension. 
  • The belt may need to be adjusted to the proper tension or replaced if it is excessively worn. 
  • This will restore the full coolant circulation and prevents any overheating issues.

Solutions for High Engine Temps

Flush Cooling System

  • A full cooling system flush involves draining all old coolant and flushing the entire system with fresh water to clean out any contaminants or debris. 
  • This helps to remove any accumulations and optimize the heat transfer by circulating new and clean coolant. 
  • If an overheating issue persists after trying other repairs, consider having a professional cooling system flush to give the cooling system a fresh start.

Check the Airflow Obstructions

  • Carefully inspect the radiator and the A/C condenser fins for any debris buildup or bent fins that may obstruct or reduce the airflow through the critical heat exchangers. 
  • Even small obstructions from things like insects, leaves, plastic bags, etc can greatly reduce the airflow, which hinders the cooling capacity. 
  • Repair any bent fins to proper position and thoroughly clean all debris from the fins and flow path to ensure a maximum, unobstructed airflow through the radiator and the condenser.

Fix the Exhaust Leaks

  • One often overlooked cause of excessive engine bay heating is from exhaust leaks. 
  • Improperly sealed exhaust components like the manifold, header, catalytic converter, or the muffler can allow some hot exhaust gases to escape and heat up the engine compartment. 
  • Visually inspect the full exhaust system and listen for any audible leaks. 
  • Re-seal any identified leaks at the exhaust connections with proper high-temperature gasket sealant to prevent any hot gases from reaching the engine bay.

Repairing the Dragging Brakes

  • A brake caliper that is not fully releasing can stay partially engaged by causing an excessive drag on the wheel and on significant heat generation. 
  • After driving, carefully check each wheel for any signs of brake drag or excessive temperature, which would indicate a sticking caliper. 
  • Any calipers that are not fully releasing as designed will need to be repaired or potentially replaced to prevent the excessive heat transfer and further overheating issues.

Maintenance Tips for Preventing the High Temperature Stops in AWD Vehicles

Proper ongoing maintenance is key to minimizing the chances of high engine temperature that stops occurring in AWD vehicles. 

Here are some important maintenance tips to follow:

  • Check the engine coolant levels frequently and top up when it’s low to maintain a proper heat transfer capabilities within the cooling system. Watch for any evidence of new leaks as well.
  • Inspect all the cooling system hoses and connections for deterioration or seepage that could indicate a developing leak. Replace any worn hoses early before a major failure occurs.
  • Have the condition of the thermostat regularly checked and replace it if tests reveal it’s no longer fully opening and closing as it used to be.
  • Examine the serpentine belts closely for cracking or excessive wear and have the belt tension checked. 
  • Replace the belts as needed to prevent any failure and maintain a proper coolant circulation.
  • Keep the radiator and the A/C condenser fins clear of obstructions as part of the regular vehicle washing. The bent fins should be repaired immediately.
  • Listen for exhaust leaks during normal driving and have the exhaust system thoroughly inspected annually. Any leaks that found should be re-sealed promptly.
  • Include the cooling system flushing as part of the schedule, because major maintenance is ideal to keep the fresh coolant circulating through the system.

Frequently Asked Questions About AWD High Temp Stop Vehicle

Q: Why are AWD vehicles more prone to overheating?

A: The complex AWD system has more drivetrain components packed into a tight space, which obstructs the airflow. More friction also generates additional heat by demanding the driving conditions further to stress the cooling system.

Q: Can I drive a short distance if my AWD is slightly overheated?

A: Driving even a short distance when overheated risks major engine damage. You should turn off the vehicle and allow the engine to fully cool down first. Only drive once temperatures have normalized.

Q: Does towing with an AWD increase the chances of overheating?

A: Yes, towing puts additional load on the drivetrain, which causes more heat buildup. Larger trailers obstruct the airflow as well. Monitor the temps closely, reduce the speed and take breaks if the engine gets hot.

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