3 Essential Things to Know About Your Car’s Temperature Gauge

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The temperature gauge in your vehicle is designed to indicate the temperature of your engine’s coolant. This gauge will tell you if your engine’s coolant is cold, normal, or overheating. It is an important dial that is located on the dashboard of your vehicle.

Reasons the Temperature Gauge Reads High

If the temperature gauge reads high, it could mean your engine is overheating. Another reason your reading might be high is you could be losing coolant. A small leak or evaporation may cause your radiator to slowly lose coolant. A third reason your temperature gauge reads high could be because the thermostat is broken. If this is the case, you may need a coolant temperature switch replacement. The last reason the temperature gauge could read high is because of a water pump, or water pump gasket failure. If the water pump is malfunctioning, it may need to be replaced by a professional.

Reasons the Temperature Gauge Reads Cold

On most vehicles, the temperature gauge reads cold until the engine has run for a few minutes. If the temperature gauge still reads cold after the engine has warmed up, the gauge may simply be broken. Another reason the temperature gauge could read cold is if the thermostat in the vehicle stays open. With the thermostat stuck open, the engine can be overcooled, causing a low temperature reading. If this is the case, the thermostat may need to be replaced.

What to Do If Your Temperature Gauge is High

If your temperature gauge is reading high, it means your car is overheating. This is a very serious matter and you should never drive an overheating car. If your car starts to overheat, shut off the air conditioner and open the windows immediately. If this does not reduce the overheating, turn on the heater as high as it can go. If this still doesn't work, pull over on the side of the road, turn off the engine, open the hood carefully, and wait until the vehicle cools down. Never open the radiator cap while the engine is hot – coolant can spray and burn you. Once the vehicle has cooled, take the car to a mechanic right away so they can diagnose the problem. Cars are especially susceptible to overheating in hot climates, like what's common in cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Atlanta.

The temperature gauge is an important tool in your vehicle that shows the temperature of your engine’s coolant. Contact YourMechanic and have your car inspected for overheating if it reads too high, as this can cause serious problems.


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James

29 years of experience
651 reviews
James
29 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Car is overheating - Orlando, Florida
Thank you to James for addressing the issue with my VW Passat and the communication. I appreciate your work and hope Mymechanic compensates you for your amazing work ethic.
Toyota Corolla - Car is overheating - Casselberry, Florida
James methodically inspected my vehicles prior service actions and found a relatively simple yet unlikely error which was causing my radiator to lose coolant and run hot just days after servicing (basically the thermostat housing nut was loose.) Fixed my problem onsite and offered insights on my 16-year-old 200.000 plus mile Corolla. Much appreciated!

Pardeep

20 years of experience
693 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Dodge B3500 - Car is overheating - Campbell, California
Pardeep performed a diagnostic test on my van and found the overheating issue. He explained the next steps to fix the problem and ordered the parts. He is an excellent mechanic and very professional. I look forward to his next appointment to instaall the parts. David Knapp David Knapp
Subaru Outback - Car is overheating - San Jose, California
Pardeep took his time to fully check out our car. And he showed us what was wrong and explained it. He was very honest about what has to be done.

Dan

38 years of experience
789 reviews
Dan
38 years of experience
Mazda Tribute - Car is overheating - Gainesville, Georgia
Was very prompt in diagnosing the issues correctly and determining what needed to be done to correct them. Very fast and didn't waste any time and even fixed some brake problems i was having.

Jeshua

6 years of experience
102 reviews
Jeshua
6 years of experience
Mercury Milan - Car is overheating - Sarasota, Florida
Awesome experience, he was very nice and pleasant and knowledgeable. I would recommend and use again.

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