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To be hot and take layers off, or to be cold and put layers on. The debate is never settled. But hey, guess what? Our cars aren’t sentient beings, and they don’t need to worry about this. Because automakers have already figured it out for them. In a car, the controlling of the temperature happens internally. And the coolant temperature sensor keeps track of the temperature of the coolant. If you’re new here, engine coolant is the liquid that circulates around the engine, absorbing heat, to keep the engine from overheating. Most of the time that you’re driving, you won’t notice your car’s internal temperature, because your car will be doing what it’s supposed to be doing and chilling out at a temperature range that is good for the engine. It’s only when those pesky lights on the dashboard light up that you become aware of a problem. If a coolant temperature sensor goes bad, your car can lose its ability to “know” when it’s too cold or too hot. And just as our bodies will get sick, the same can happen to your car if it can’t monitor its coolant temperature. And that’s where the coolant temperature sensor comes into play. It’s literally just a temperature sensor that monitors the coolant. Yep. It’s that simple. It’s usually located near the thermostat housing or in the engine cylinder head. Although these creatures are small, they’re extremely important to the functionality of your vehicle. The success of the sensor directly affects the engine’s life. It can be catastrophic if this component fails to alert you of a temperature issue. It’s a small package with a large responsibility. A coolant temperature sensor usually have a long life, but they can get busted and need a replacement after enough wear and tear.
In the car world, the malfunction indicator lights are commonly known as idiot lights. That’s to make them so simple that an idiot can understand that something is wrong. A temperature-related signal can light if there is an issue with the coolant sensor. You also might get a check engine warning light or, depending on the type of car you have, any other number of warning lights.
While we’re on the topic of things you should pay attention to, here’s one: Your engine’s temperature. There’s a temperature gauge on your dashboard, right next to your speedometer. It should indicate your engine temperature being right in a happy zone. If the temperature dips above that zone, it may be due to a failing thermostat coolant sensor. Also, it means your engine is too hot, and that’s bad news. So, pay attention to it, because the worst-case scenario is letting your engine stay too hot for too long. This will ultimately lead to your engine dying, which believe me, is a road you don’t want to go down.
Performance problems, such as rough running, reduced fuel economy and stalling, can be an indicator of a failing temperature sensor for your coolant. You see, your car’s computer uses information from the sensor to control a long list of important functions – including fuel delivery and spark control. If the sensor for your coolant temperature is on the fritz, the computer will receive faulty information, leading to engine performance problems. And trust me, you don’t want that. It makes green lights a lot less fun.
What do you do when you’re overheating with a fever? You go to the doctor! Which is exactly what you should do if you have a failing sensor. Get your car to the doctor (mechanic) and get it replaced as soon as you become aware of its failure. It’s not worth the risk of waiting.
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