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97 Jeep Wrangler Overheats in Summer

We have a 97 Jeep Wrangler that I have serviced regularly since I purchased new. It only has 97,000 mile since my wife and children drove it locally. During winter, the Jeep drives fine. As the weather warms up and especially when using the air conditioning system, the engine heats up within 10 to 15 minutes of driving. Once, when my daughter was driving in warm Spring weather, the Jeep engine seized up on a highway. We had it towed and the dealership flushed the coolant and it drove OK for a few days. We have noticed that the coolant is burning up in Spring and Summer needing replenishment frequently. We also had the thermostat, water pump, belts, and hoses replaced. The overheating problem (needle moves to red zone) still persists in Spring and Summer. If we switch off the A/C, the vehicle drives OK for about a 1/2 hour but Atlanta summer can be brutal without A/C.

Except for this issue, the vehicle is well maintained and in fact every time I get the oil changed, the mechanics ask if I would sell the vehicle as it is in such great shape.

Please help. Thanks.

The engine seized? Take the mechanic’s offer and get rid of this beast. You probably have a bad head gasket or cracked head or block.

Check the front of the condenser for bugs/debris that may be blocking airflow to the radiator.


An engine that’s overheating and losing coolant needs to have that addressed right away, as it doesn’t take many episodes of that to damage the engine. It appears that you continued to drive this car anyway, in which case you’ll need to remember this lesson in the future.

The engine may have suffered major damage when it seized.

Have your mechanic check the fan clutch. That can cause some of your symptoms.

I guess I would consider a new radiator. At that age it can lose its cooling capability. I’m sure the seizing or over-heating didn’t do it any good but if it is not over-heating in the winter, I don’t think the head gasket would be the issue. That wouldn’t care what the outside temp was. Instead, it sounds like you have diminished cooling capacity, either from a bug filled radiator as suggested, or coated radiator. If the radiator doesn’t do it, probably time to move on.

Coolant doesn’t burn up. Losing coolant and having to replentish frequently is a symptom of a problem. It could be something as simple as a faulty radiator cap. Or it could prove to be a very expensive to fix problem. But until you understand what is happening to the coolant, this will be hard to address. What I’d do if it were my car is look in the yellow pages under “Radiator Shops” and take the vehicle to one of those places. Best if you can get a recommendation for the best one in your area from your own mechanic.