Written by Bill Heath
The GM 6.5 L diesel truck has a reputation of overheating when towing or hauling heavy and uphill. Those models built prior to 1997 were supplied with a cooling system that, even under the best of circumstances, provided only a marginal performance. Most of these vehicles were not able to maintain coolant temperature at or below the maximum – in my book – allowable 210°F. The normal accumulation of bugs, dirt and crud in the radiator and A/C core made a bad situation worse. Beginning with the ’97 models, GM increased the water pump flow, added a dual thermostat setup and a slightly improved fan clutch in an effort to make things better. These improvements affected a bit of an improvement.
Through years of experience with the 6.5 L diesel, working it hard under towing conditions, Heath Diesel has determined some important and effective remedies for the cooling inadequacies that plague these trucks.
Heath Diesel had long known that retrofitting the ’97 high-output water pump with the dual thermostat onto older models did not provide a meaningful improvement in temperature control and, while we found ways to improve the cooling system performance, the system as a whole did not deliver good and reliable temperature control under tougher towing conditions.