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Car and Truck Water Temperature Gauges

Keeping your vehicle running at optimum performance includes making sure that the car and truck water temperature gauges are working accurately. When an engine is allowed to overheat, major damages can result; in some cases, complete replacement of the engine is necessary to repair those damages. Therefore, it is important to not only have well-functioning measuring devices but to also check them on a regular basis.

What does a water temperature gauge measure?

While the name of the device implies that it measures water temperature, it actually measures the temperature of the coolant in the engine. On some cars and trucks, these devices are also used to activate cooling fans at certain temperature readings.In the early days of automobiles, engines were cooled by water in the summer and were protected from freezing in the winter by antifreeze. Nowadays, coolants are mixed with water and take care of keeping the engine cool in the summer while avoiding freezing in the winter. These coolants also help keep the water pump lubricated and allow the system to run cleaner.

How do you test a water temperature gauge?

If your vehicle is overheating frequently, the problem may be that of a faulty monitor or sensor. If you wish to test it before replacing it, try the following steps:

  • Turn the ignition key to the "on" position.
  • Locate the temperature-sending unit on the engine and remove the wire. The wire is usually dark green in color.
  • Connect the wire to a "ground." This can be accomplished using a jumper cable.
  • Examine the reading. If the reading is "hot, then the sending unit needs to be replaced.
  • If the needle does not move at all, then disconnect the green wire located on the back of the device and connect it to a "ground." If it reads "hot,” then the wire connecting the sending unit to the gauge is not functioning properly.
  • If the needle does not move, then check the connection between the ignition switch and the gauge by connecting a jumper switch to the positive side of the gauge. If the gauge starts working, then the wiring between the ignition switch and the gauge is defective and should be repaired.
  • If the problem persists, the gauge most likely needs to be replaced.

What types of water temperature gauges are there?

There are basically two types of water temperature gauges for monitoring the temperature of the motor.

  • Electrical gauges
  • Bourdon tubes