Coolant Temperature Sensor
On our vehicle’s dashboard along with the gauges there are also icons that can be illuminated to inform the operator of a problem with the vehicle. The engine coolant temperature sensor light on the dashboard looks like a thermometer with wavy lines next to it, often referred to as the low coolant light. If this light activates while you are driving, your engine is running hotter than recommended safety level; this could possibly be due to a low coolant condition possibly a coolant leak stemming from a broken or cracked hose/clamp.
In this situation, the best thing you can do is attempt to locate the source of the leak and WAIT until your engine cools down (this is important to wait, while the coolant is hot, much pressure has built in the hoses, and if you open the radiator cap all that super-hot coolant goes everywhere). Once your vehicle has cooled down add coolant to the specified level and attempt to safely operate the vehicle home. Once you arrive home, you should consider having your vehicle serviced by an ASE-certified professional as quickly as possible.
Ever wonder how hot your vehicle’s engine gets? Although you may not know, hopefully, your vehicle’s coolant temp sensor does. For most automotive vehicles, the coolant temperature sensor can be found somewhere in the vicinity of the engine thermostat, which allows it to function optimally.
The sensor works by measuring temperatures radiating from the thermostat and coolant itself. The temperature readings are calibrated to display its range on the on-On-board diagnostic system. From there, your vehicle’s computer will use this temperature information to either continue operating or adjust certain engine functions, always working to keep the engine temperature at the midway level.
How to tell if Coolant Temp is bad
Overtime, through ware and tare you may develop a bad coolant temp sensor in need replacement. This can cause a range of problems, including unexpected engine overheating. If your sensor is not working, it will send a signal to the computer and your Check Engine light will be illuminated. If you see the Check Engine light on, paired with the coolant light, take your car in for professional servicing right away.
Bad coolant temp sensor symptoms
When your cooling system is operating properly, the needle of the coolant temp gauge will be in the ‘average’ range (midway between high and low). Additionally, if the needle begins to creep upward or downward, it is indicating a fault in the vehicle’s cooling system. The problems can range from something as simple as leaves blocking the radiator, or something annoying like an in operational cooling fan.
In this case, having a coolant pressure tester diagnosis performed by a certified professional is your best bet unless you find yourself being capable enough to fix these types of issues safely.
Believe it or not, your vehicle’s heater runs off the same coolant that courses through the engine block to cool it down. This is simply done with a valve regulating coolant flow through the heater core to control cabin temperature. If the engine is leaking coolant or if there is a blockage, your vehicle’s heater performance will be affected. If you notice that your heater is not working optimally and become concerned that it’s indicating signs of failure, stop by your local auto store for a diagnosis.