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I've been driving my new to me 05 dakota for a bit now, and aside from the lifter tick, it seems to run fine. I'm swapping the lifters when I install the 08 cams I bought. However, the other day I was driving up to Park City (pretty steep pass for about 10 miles) and the engine started to get pretty warm. The truck was empty aside from me and my two boys. It never got to the top line on the "safe" temp range, but it still seemed awfully warm for no load uphill. Truck has about 102k miles on it. I know the coolant was flushed right before I got it, but I'm not sure if anything else cooling-wise was done. I'm thinking about swapping the t-stat and water pump just to be safe, since I'm going to be towing occasionally. Anything else I should do? Radiator? Truck has the tow package and heavy duty service group. It cooled down pretty fast once I got over the pass.

I live in northern Utah, so would it be bad to install a 180* stat? What about a different fan setup? Any other suggestions for reliability?

Thanks.
 

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You need to understand how naturally aspirated engines perform at higher altitudes. Once you start getting above 3000 ft sea level, N/A performance drops a certain percentage for every 1000ft. of elevation(don't know the exact amount off hand, Google it to see). At higher altitudes, N/A engines have to work harder to deliver the same power as at lower elevations but you are burning more fuel at the same time due to reduced oxygen levels.
If you were driving up a steep incline such as this long pass you went through, that is a pretty sizable load even with just you and your two boys as passengers going uphill. Remember, your truck is fighting against gravity while also being down slightly on power due to the higher elevation.
What was the outside ambient temperature? My truck is set up the same as yours except CAI and headers with aftermarket exhaust and I have noticed my temp gauge has crept up whenever I was driving when it has been hot out in stop and go traffic, even driving on the highway I had noticed that as well when it was hot out.
As for towing and reliability, make sure that the fluids are topped off before any towing trip, stay within the vehicles max towing and payload capacity, and for any reliability issues, just come on here and ask, we will try to help as best as possible.
 
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