Q: Temperature gauge issue

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The temperature gauge in my car goes up and down. It usually doesn't happen in the morning, but happens when I leave work at 1 p.m. It doesn't matter if the air conditioner is on or not, it still fluctuates. Could the hot weather be affecting it because of the age of my car (1998)? We replaced the thermostat and the radiator. There is a crack in the catalytic converter, I think that's what it is, but I don't know if that could have anything to do with the temperature. I'm also loosing coolant, we suspect there's a leak somewhere? We just can't find it. Knowing nothing about cars, im at a loss on what the temperature issue my be.
My car has a manual transmission.

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