The 1999 Dodge Dakota uses a traditional, time-tested mechanical thermostat to keep the engine running at approximately 190 degrees. When the engine heats up, it causes steam to pass through the “jiggle” on the thermostat, which in turn causes the spring in the thermostat to compress. The compressing spring opens a valve in the thermostat, allowing hot radiator fluid to pass from the engine into the top of the Dakota’s radiator, where it cools and subsequently flows from the bottom of the radiator back into the engine.
The radiator uses transference to cool down the fluid: The coolant flows into a narrow, vertical tank on one side of the radiator where it is routed into dozens of even narrower flat aluminum tubes sandwiched between hundreds of tiny aluminum fins. Cooling air flows through the fins, taking the heat with it: The heat transfers from the fluid to the aluminum to the air. the entire radiator is worthless and your Dakota’s engine is at risk if that simple thermostat fails. If it can’t measure temperature and open to circulate the radiator coolant, your Dodge Dakota could overheat.