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Old 04-14-2013, 08:02 PM   #1
Lebowski
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Default Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

A couple of days ago I got on the interstate and cruised at 55 for about 10 miles and just before I got off the freeway the car overheated. I had to turn on the wiper so I could see out the windshield. Could this be caused by driving at 55 or could there be another reason for it? I just bought the car a week ago and am still trying to familiarize myself with it. Thanks in advance for any input you can give me....
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Many things can cause it to overheat. Timing, plugged radiator, low pressure in the tires, and on and on and on. Do you have a temp gauge? Are you sure it is overheating as opposed to throwing the fluid out of the radiator. Check the level of the fluid. You won't want it much above the cores. Also, lots of us run straight water during the non-freezing weather with maybe some waterpump lubricant. If you use straight water, make sure it is distilled. Not out of the tap.

Bottom line, lot's of things can cause them to heat up. BUT, running at 55 mph definitely could be part of the equation.

On mine, the engine is/was new but I have a gauge so I can watch it for a while anyway.

Good Luck to ya............
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:45 PM   #3
BILL WILLIAMSON
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Radiator caps should be sealed totally so the overflow can do it's job! Maybe you don't even have a PROBLEM, except for your leaking cap! Bill W.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

It probably did not overheat.
It VERY LIKELY simply had the water pump pushing more coolant back into the radiator than the radiator could pass through itself back to the engine, so coolant piled up in the radiator and caused what I call "Quail Inconsonence"
It is easily cured by keeping the coolant level a bit below the radiator baffle.


Was there any symptom of OVERHEATING?
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

first of all i wouldnt be driving one of these old contraptions at 55 if i just bought it and haven't gone through a complete check out of all systems. assuming you did why not take it a bit easier and cruise it at 45 some backroads bag the interstate for now and get to know her a little better. make sure the coolant level is at the baffle level in the rad and you have a good seal on the cap. did you go through the timing procedure? ck the rad for coldspots with a ray gun. did you ck your trans and diff fluids?
I am just saying try and work yourself up to that point start slow test then push a little more. These old girls like to be wined and dined before being full throttled

Last edited by Mitch//pa; 04-14-2013 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:34 PM   #6
BILL WILLIAMSON
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Yo, Lebowski, welcome, dude.
Since you just bought it, I would STRONGLY recommend you take it to a radiator shop & have them do a quick, cheap, backflush. They're notorious for rust flakes from the block getting stuck on end in the top of the radiator tubes. I do this once a year just to be safe. Don't assume ANYTHING on a car you just bought, mine had ONLY 1/8 cup of oil in the trans & rear end, somebody FORGOT or died while waiting for the gear oil to come. Bill W.
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

As already pointed out.....make sure it is not just venting coolant out of the cap instead of over heating. Also I suggest you check your speedometer with a GPS if you haven't already done so...just to be sure how accurate it is. My stock '30 coupe will do 55 or 60, but it is much happier at about 40 to 45. Some of the folks have touring engines built up that will run Interstate speeds all day, but if you have a stock engine and you feel the need for speed, you might want to drive one of your later models rather than the A. Save it for leisurely drives out through the country in the beautiful hills of "Old Kentuck". I like the slower pace of my A, some don't. When I want to go fast, I just switch cars to one that will go "make me wanna hug my Granny!" fast.

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Old 04-14-2013, 10:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Mine will drive 55 all day long no over heating problems. a friend of mine was following me home one evening after a 65 mile trip and we had to jump on the interstate for a 3 mile stretch. when we got on I gave it a little more gas and my friend called me on his cell to tell me he was doing 62 MPH and that he had never gone that fast in his A and I was steady walking away from him the whole way on the interstate.no over heating. the Model A cooling system is a non pressurized system so theoretically you should be able to drive it with out a cap at all. I would say make sure at those speeds your timming handle is all the way down. also have the radiator checked out, cant heart to have it cleaned , make sure if some one has put a thermostat in that it is working properly, I dought the water pump is bad unless its the original one or it is leaking and you would know if it was leaking as soon as you start it up. I suspect you were driving with the timming lever not pulled down or timming is off or you have a leaking cooling system or it was low to begin with.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

(side note) You got 55MPH? i am jealous.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:08 AM   #10
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

I would have to say it is most likely either an overfilled radiator or the tubes are a little clogged. Definitely have the radiator checked.
On a side note, Dumb Person.... I hate calling you that LOL. I just finished watching those two video's you linked in your post about “Why cars you buy always need a restoration”. I laughed my butt off. Those are great. Reminds me of how some of my friends fix cars here in the American south!
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:22 AM   #11
John LaVoy
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

It sounds like most of the points have been covered. Running 55 should not overheat the car if it is timed correctly and the cooling system is in good working order. I have a temperature gauge on the sedan we use for the long trips and last summer we were running above 60 for a considerable part of the day with out a problem.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:40 AM   #12
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

55 mph does NOT cause it to overheat.

#1 suspect is always a clogged radiator. if so, it needs to be rodded out by a shop that understands old cars. and backflush all the rust out of the engine.

#2 could be timing, but if you're running 55mph, the timing is probably OK :-)
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:50 AM   #13
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

It is not the act of driving 55 that causes it to overheat. A car (any car) can overheat at much lowerspeeds if other things are wrong.

My guesses are timing, fuel flow (running lean), then radiator.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:46 AM   #14
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Is there supposed to be a gasket of some sort under the radiator cap so it cannot spit out there? Mine does not have one and it spits out up there when running about 50.

I assume I am not overheating as I drove mine 14 miles and before I left my destination I checked the coolant level and it was the same as when I left, I never saw a steam geyser or water hitting the ground behind me. That was the longest drive I had taken since we got it.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:49 AM   #15
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions. The first several days I drove it there were no overheating problems. Then I checked the radiator and saw it was low so I put in half a gallon of antifreeze and half a gallon of water. It may not have overheated as someone suggested but it was pouring out of the cap so, as someone else said, maybe it shouldn't be filled all the way to the top like in a newer car. The car had a frame off resto several years ago and the engine was rebuilt at that time. I would like to have a Model A guy in my area look the car over and drive it to see if they think it needs anything. The parking brake needs to be adjusted which is about the only thing I can think of. I drove it several miles yesterday and it didn't overheat at all. I'll keep it off the interstate for a while and keep it at 45 max. Thanks again for your input..............Dave in KY
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Last edited by Lebowski; 04-15-2013 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:03 AM   #16
Richard Wilson
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Some Model A's have a problem with Antifreeze foaming inside the radiator. Foam will not cool the engine so then you have an overheating situation plus foam and coolant will blow out all over the hood and windshield. My vote goes to either foaming antifreeze or block radiator tubes.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:19 AM   #17
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Default Re: Over flow tube Overheat Loosing water Boil over Steam Radiator Leaks

Dave,
This post from 2010 might help.


I see from your post on 06-21-10 that this is a new radiator and ...

Quote from your post:

" The huckster I'm working on has a new radiator, and a new leakless water pump. I took it out for a few miles last night and topped the radiator before I left. checked it today and water is at the top of the tubes. The overflow tube is up into the center of the radiator ..."

1. Is the tube still in center of the radiator filler tube?

2. If the overflow tube is in the center OR toward the front of filler and is NOT up UNDER the lip towards the rear of the filler tube as described in the Service Bulletin mentioned below, water will go down the overflow tube if the water is 70 degrees or 212.

If conditions 1 and 2 exist the water surges up against the front of the radiator filler and goes right down the overflow tube.

Have you read page 450 of the Service Bulletins; which covers water being forced out the over flow tube and how to correct it?

They show pictures of the problem and how to fix it by rerouting the overflow pipe and changing the baffle if necessary to fix the problem.

I have seen a number of recore, even new ones and repaired radiators where the over flow tubes are in the front or middle of the filler tubes which will cause the water to be forced down the overflow tube.

If you decide to bend the tube just be careful you do not kink the over flow tube!
It is possible to break the solder joint where the overflow pipe goes through the bottom of the radiator tank!

If the tube is at the front or too short, it might be better to find a piece of rubber hose (vacuum hose has thiner walls and is better than gasoline hose) and run it from the tube under the lip of spout and around to the rear of filler spout rather than forming (bending) the tube and risking kinking it.

Notice that the Service Bulletin says that the tube should be UNDER the lip. So the hose can just be looped around under the lip see figure 888.




On 06-07-10 Mike V posted the Service Bulletin page 450.


Re: Radiator baffle?

Note: when looking at this diagram notice that the front of car is to the left!





Many times relocating the tube will fix it without soldering the washer as seen in the SB. Many of the replacement tanks have a different design of the tube and baffle and the washer suggestion will not work.

Last edited by Benson; 04-15-2013 at 01:03 PM. Reason: Changed title so others can search and find it easier.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

Since the car, being new to you, is somewhat of an unknown, I would torque the cyl. head just to be sure. Putting a rubber hose extension on the overflow tube inside the rad. is a very good idea too.
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

The overflow pipe is at the rear of the opening....
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Will driving at 55 mph for several miles cause a Model A to overheat?

If you look at figures 887 and 888 in the above post it shows the overflow to the rear.

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