95' Dodge Dakota, '97 LHS Problems

My 1995 Dodge Dakota has suddenly started overheating and it doesn't seem like there's any coolant getting through the engine. I just noticed this for
the first time tonight on the way home from work.. Funny thing is, it started happening immediately after we lost the engine in my wife LHS for a simlar reason. It seems that her radiator became clogged or something because her engine completely overheated and there was no indication of impending failure from either the gauges or the fluids in the LHS until after the engine had thrown a rod. Only then did the water/coolant temp gauge rise above normal. The car started knocking on while we were out of town, and by the time we drove the 40 miles home, it was too late.
At least with my Dakota the temp gauge is indicating an overheating problem. I'm think Thermostat, Could having less than a 1/4 tank of gas be an issue? I just dropped below a 1/4 tank yesterday, and discovered this problem on the way home tonight.
If any one has any idea of whats going on on either, or can tell me where the Thermostat is located on my Dakota, or an donate an engine so that my wife can keep campaigning to win Monique's F.A.T. Chance, Users Choice Awards(Hopefully to jumpstart her modelling career. Please help as it a dream of her's to become a model like her grandmother. You can vote for her by following the instructions found at http://monique.blip.tv/file/740 ),the help would be greatly appreciated.
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I don't know about your Dakota, but the reason your LHS crapped out wasn't because of overheating; that step came at the end of the engines life once your engine suffered catastrophic failure and the coolant found a path to escape under pressure... after you had abused it driving 40 miles with the engine knocking.
When you hear a loud knocking in the future, I'd suggest you pull to the side of the road, shut the engine off and put on the four way flashers. The same goes for any idiot lights or gauges reading in the *danger* zone. My Dad passed that information on to me when I first began to drive in 1970.
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Warya wrote:

Oh please! You are NOT describing an engine that overheated and then threw a rod. You're describing an engine that gave a warning sign of a rod bearing failing, and that was ignored and the car flogged mercilessly onward 40 miles to its death. Once the rod went through the block, I can certainly believe it overheated! Why have you now (twice) posted that it overheated first? Is there some sign of overheating that you haven't told us about?

No, 1/4 tank of gas can't be an issue.
1) Check the obvious- is there coolant in the radiator, or is it low? Don't just check the overflow/recovery tank, check the RADIATOR. If there's a leak in the system, it may not draw coolant back into the radiator from the overflow tank and the radiator can be empty while the overflow tank is full.
2) Check to be sure that the guage is correct- is the engine REALLY overheating
3) The usual suspects: thermostat, waterpump, air trapped in system, clogged radiator, collapsed lower hose, radiator cap not holding pressure, etc.
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Warya wrote:

Quit wasting our time. You're posting crap just to hear yourse;f talk. You don't learn from your experience nor from the advice of others that has already been given. Troll?
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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It seems that her radiator became clogged or something

You missed it here, bigtime. The engine didn't throw a rod from being hot, without you noticing any "warning" signs. It doesn't work that way. It got hot because you drove it 40 miles without any lubrication.
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