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What you really need to know about your temperature gauge


BY KEVIN SAWYER – The temperature gauge in your vehicle is one of the most important data devices you can have. Unfortunately, many modern vehicles don’t have them in the dashboard. These days, for the most part, about half of the space is taken up by a gigantic, and useless, RPM gauge. The temperature gauge measures the temperature of the coolant that circulates through your vehicle’s engine. If the temperature is not where it should be, trouble can happen unexpectedly.

If you find your gauge is running to the hot side, it could be a couple of things. It could be that your engine has begun to overheat because your coolant is not reaching a particular part of the engine or you could have a coolant leak somewhere. The final reason could be that you’re going to need a new thermostat. If that is the case, you will be better off replacing the coolant also. The major expense for a hot reading on your gauge is that your water pump is gone. Usually, the water pump is about to go when you start to hear a high pitched squealing on a regular basis.

Down on the other end of your gauge, the cold end, could mean that the thermostat, again, is broken and is stuck in a wide open position. You vehicle takes some time for the engine to warm up and get a good reading. If it is still running cold, then your thermostat needs to be replaced or the gauge itself is gone.

If your vehicle is running hot, you can do some serious damage to the engine. The best thing to do, of course, is to pull over to the side of the road and summon help. In an emergency, though, you can wait 20 minutes, or longer, for the engine to cool down and then drive some more until you are in the red range of the gauge. You can also try turning on the heat. Turn your thermostat to the high heat setting and blast the fan. It will force the coolant through the engine and may cause the gauge to go down toward the cool area until you can reach help.