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Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold (Temperature Gauge)

Posted November 1, 2020 1:57 AM

You know your body temperature is supposed to be 98.6 degrees F, 37 degrees C.  Your vehicle has a normal temperature, too, and if you pay attention to it, that can save you some big headaches down the road.

Many vehicles have a temperature gauge on the dash that takes the temperature of the engine's coolant.  Some have a thermometer symbol, some read C-H (cold to hot). Many will have a red zone that shows when water temperature is getting into the danger zone.  Others are digital and have a red warning light that signals overheating.  And some vehicles have a light that goes on when the engine temperature is out of the normal range.

If your vehicle has a gauge, pay attention to it.  If you need help locating it, ask one of our AutoSurgeonInc experts to give you a quick explanation.  Chances are when the vehicle has been running for 15 minutes or more, the temperature gauge will settle into its own "normal" zone, often just below the midway point.  If you have a digital readout, remember what that "normal" temperature is.  Here's why.

At any point when you're driving, the temperature gauge is the quickest way to get a sense that the engine is running the way it should, a quick health checkup, as it were. Say you're on a 3-hour trip, glance at that gauge every hour or so.  It should always be in the same spot.  If it starts to move one way or the other, you may be able to catch a problem before it gets serious.

Pay special attention to it moving into the hot zone.  The needle on the gauge is the easiest and least distracting way to see an engine heating up, but on a digital gauge, start paying attention if the temperature reaches 240ºF/115ºC or more.

Remember, though, that just because the gauge reads "hot" doesn't mean your engine is on the verge of burning up.  It could be a bad sensor and the engine will be at a normal temperature.  But it also could be a failing water pump, coolant leak or thermostat.  By pulling off the road and observing your engine, it will give you a pretty good idea if it's running hot or not.

If the gauge is too "cold," it could be a broken gauge or thermostat sticking open.  Usually being in the cold range isn't as worrisome, but you should have it checked out since other systems may be affected.

Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies, especially when it comes from within.  Know your vehicle's normal temperature and keep an eye on it.


AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



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  • I have passed this place on the bus every day for 6 years and have always gotten a smile out of their sign out front having such nice little positive messages. So when I finally got a car and needed my brakes done, they were my first choice. Not only were they incredibly friendly and professional, they identified what I thought was a minor inconvenience and explained how it could be a problem down the road (pun very much intended) while fixing it for me. I will absolutely be coming back for anything I need done in the future!
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  • I didn't have any actual work done, but they were very honest with me when they took a look at my vehicle and told me exactly what needed to be fixed. There were also priced very fair. I will definitely return in the future!
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  • Great speed and efficiency on all repairs. Communication between Bill and myself was very quick and he notified me right when my car was fixed. My family returns for multiple reasons. Great service and car care, but overall because Bill is a great business owner and always takes the time to go above and beyond by helping to explain what we can do to maintain good care on my car. Will definitely be returning.
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