Your van's engine features a cooling system to prevent it from overheating during normal operation, but a surprisingly large number of items can cause this process to go awry. An overheating engine can suffer permanent internal damage such as a cracked engine block or cylinder head, so it's important to get the issue resolved as soon as possible. Below are some of the main items you will want to review:

Blown Head Gasket

A blown head gasket is one of the most common failures that result in overheating. The head gasket forms a tight seal that allows for the combustion process inside the cylinder head and engine block. Regular heating and cooling of the engine can cause the gasket to fail over time. Along with being a quite common cause of overheating, a blown head gasket is fortunately easy to detect as well. If your engine is running very rough when you start your van, a gasket fail is likely the cause.

Bad Thermostat

If your thermostat becomes stuck, it will constantly think the engine is cold, and coolant will not be able to flow to the radiator. A sure sign of a bad thermostat is that your engine will usually overheat within 15 minutes, and you will hear a loud banging sound from hot and cold coolant attempting to mix in the radiator.

Cooling Fan

Your van's cooling fan will be located behind the radiator. The cooling fan moves air through the radiator and helps remove heat from the engine at low speeds. You can attempt to spin the wheel by hand and ensure that it can rotate freely. If the fan is hard to turn or you hear rough noises, the fan will need to be replaced.

Plugged Radiator

Your radiator can fail via three different potential problems. The most obvious issue is external blockages from dirt and debris from the road, which prevents air from freely flowing through. Your radiator can also become blocked internally, which will require removing the radiator cap and inspecting internally with a flashlight for blockages. The final issue you may experience with your radiator is a coolant leak.

Bad Pump

The coolant pump helps circulate coolant through the engine and radiator. A pump can either develop a leak due to a bad seal (which can cause squealing or grinding noises), or the pump impeller can come loose and stop pumping. Your pump will need to be replaced either way.

Low Coolant

Liquid coolant is required at an appropriate pressure and amount to keep your van's cooling system in working condition. You can check your coolant by allowing the engine to cool off, and removing the radiator cap. You should notice a small amount of pressure released, this is normal. You can gauge your coolant to see if you are running low, which may indicate that your engine has a coolant leak.


This information will hopefully help assist you in diagnosing the overheating problem in your van. Remember to always consult your own vehicle's manual for specifics, and contact a professional if you are unsure how to safely complete any repairs yourself.