Auto Gauges

How to Properly Read a Car Temperature Gauge


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Understanding the readings from your car temperature gauge is vitally important when driving. You should check your temperature frequently, just as you do with your other gauges, as an overheated car can cause you a plethora of complications.

Take a look at how to interpret the readings from your temperature gauge.

Normal Range

When you look at your car temperature gauge, the needle should be in the center or just slightly below center (toward "C"). The temperature needs to be in that range at all times.

High Temperature

If the temperature gauge suddenly spikes high, there are a few possible reasons. You may have lost coolant via a slow leak or gradual evaporation. It could also mean the thermostat is broken and the valve is not opening as it should to let coolant into the engine. Another possible cause of a sudden temperature rise is the failure of the water pump from a broken gasket or something otherwise.

Low Temperature

If the temperature is low and stays low, the thermostat is likely stuck open and is allowing a constant flow of coolant into the engine.

If the temperature gauge is running high, then you can immediately turn the heater on in the car. If it is hot outside, then roll the windows down as well and direct the air vents away from the passengers.

This will cool the engine down quickly as you look for a place to pull over and check the water level. Never open a hot radiator, as you can inflict major harm to yourself. Instead, add water through the overflow tank if it is needed.

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