Tips for Keeping a 2008 Chevrolet Colorado Cool While Towing a Trailer Into the Rockies

Question:

I have a 2008 Chevy Colorado LT crew cab, 3.7 liter, 5-cylinder. Camper is a new Springdale Mini, 3,200 lbs. dry and about 4,200 lbs. fully loaded wet. I have a load leveling hitch and had my mechanic install an external transmission cooler, which routes the fluid first through the factory cooler installed in the bottom tank of the radiator and then through the external cooler. Problem is, the engine runs hot when I tow the camper. I dont have a tow/haul button, so I run the truck in 3d gear. Because we live in a valley out on the plains and camp up in the Rockies, the truck sometimes runs really hot and Im afraid of overheating. The temp gauge has four marks on it and theres no red zone except for a wide red mark at the very top. When not towing, the truck runs all day at the midway mark. Towing on the flat and some uphill, it goes to the three-quarter mark. But if I try to push the speed up around 60-65 mph, the temp gauge moves up past the three-quarter mark until I pull over and stop, then start up again. It generally cools down to the three-quarter mark again until the next long uphill pull. Do I need a bigger radiator? Is there anything I can do to keep this thing from over-heating?

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Expert Reply:

It sounds like you have really done as much as you can to ensure that your 2008 Chevrolet Colorado has the advantage while towing. I think you stated the reason without realizing it, you are going up steep inclines while towing a trailer.

Even without a trailer your vehicle will experience extra heat due to the strain of driving uphill. Add to that the weight of a trailer and whatever cargo that if put into the Colorado itself and that is why you cannot go 60-65 mph safely.

The most efficient transmission cooler available is a stacked plate cooler followed by a plate-fin cooler, like part # D13503, and the least efficient being a tube-fin cooler like part # D12906. The idea is to install the biggest, most efficient transmission cooler possible. Since you already have a cooler though you won't be seeing that much of an improvement in the cooling process.

The other thing you could add is an oil cooler kit like part # D15405 which will also help to cool down your engine. As far as fit goes you just need to make sure that there is enough room in your engine compartment for the one that you choose.

Really the best thing you can do is just keep going slow. With the thin air at higher altitudes and the stress of pulling a trailer up steep inclines, slow speed is the key.

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Jon G

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