Temperature Gauge Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It

As the only indicator of your engine’s temperature, your temperature gauge is one of the most important features on your dashboard. If it stops working, you won’t know if your engine is too hot, which can cause engine damage that can be costly to repair. Addressing this issue head-on will not only save your engine but also your money. Here are some helpful tips on how to fix a temperature gauge that isn’t working:

Take the Necessary Safety Precautions

Before we get down to business, you have to take the necessary safety precautions first. This means wearing protective gear like a mask, gloves, and safety goggles. Keep your skin protected by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants.

Prepare All Your Tools

Save yourself the trouble of looking for your tools by having them all on hand before you begin. To fix your temperature gauge, you’ll likely need the following tools:

  • Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • OBD2 Scanner
  • Drain pan or bucket for the coolant

See alsoWhat Are the Common Signs of a Bad Thermostat?

Depending on the culprit behind your car temperature gauge not working, you might need a new temperature sensor, thermostat, or coolant.

Find the Culprit Behind the Faulty Temperature Gauge

To fix your faulty temp gauge, you’ll have to ask yourself, “Why is my temperature gauge not working?” A different issue will have a different solution, so it’s best to first figure out what the culprit is before trying to replace any parts. Here are some common causes why your temp gauge is not working:

Broken Coolant Temperature Sensor

The most common culprit behind a faulty temp gauge is a broken engine coolant temperature sensor (CTS). You can typically find it near the thermostat by the base of the radiator, where it can get dirty and fail.

To check if the CTS is the issue, use your scan tool to check if it’s providing live temperature readings. If it doesn’t throw back any readings, then you’ll have to replace it.

Replacing the CTS can be a time-consuming process that involves draining the coolant. If you aren’t 100% sure it’s the reason behind your faulty temp gauge, don’t be afraid to ask a mechanic for help.

Faulty Thermostat

If your CTS is fine, then you might be dealing with a thermostat that’s stuck open or closed. The thermostat manages the flow of the coolant from the radiator to the engine, and it’s usually located near the radiator.

Testing your thermostat requires removing it from your cooling system and then submerging it in hot water. If it remains stuck even when you dunk it in boiling water, then it’s likely the one causing the temperature gauge in your car to stop working.

See alsoUnderstanding Your Dashboard Gauges

Air in the Coolant System

Air in the cooling system can also cause your temperature gauge to throw inaccurate readings. When air enters the system through the radiator hoses, it can pool near the sensor or thermostat, affecting the temperature gauge readings and the overall efficiency of your cooling system.

You can try burping the air from your coolant system by starting your car with the radiator cap off. With the cap out of the way, the trapped air should be released as the coolant cycles through the engine.

Damaged Instrument Cluster

If the culprit isn’t the CTS, thermostat, or trapped air, then the issue might be the temperature gauge itself. Removing the temp gauge on your dashboard’s instrument cluster can be hard because it involves removing a lot of screws, bolts, and wires from the dashboard. In some vehicles, the screws of the instrument cluster are hidden inside the defroster or underneath the steering wheel.

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