Too Cool: 4 Reasons Not To Ignore Your Car's Temperature Running Low

17 July 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Perhaps you watch the engine temperature dial on your car like a hawk because you are afraid of overheating, or you rarely glance at it. Either way, you might think that it is fine when the needle stays below the half way mark. Unfortunately, engines that stay cold during long drives need repairs for these four reasons.

Stuck Thermostat

If the engine stays cold during the entire drive and switching on the heat results in nothing but cool air blowing out of the vents, your engine's thermostat is most likely stuck open and needs replacement. This usually happens because of worn out coolant depositing sticky residue on the part as the liquid flows past it. While it might be stuck open right now, it can just as easily slide into a closed position and get stuck again, leaving you constantly overheating and damaging the engine.

Low Coolant

A lack of proper coolant in the reservoir also causes weird temperature fluctuations, but you will generally see more changes during your drive with this problem. Low coolant causes symptoms like

  • A sudden dip in temperature as you go downhill or uphill, depending on the cooling flow in your engine
  • Restoration of regular temperatures once you reach a flat spot of road
  • Spikes and dips in temperature that only last a few seconds and don't correspond to engine acceleration or deceleration

Try topping up with extra pre-mixed coolant and see if your temperature gauge evens out. When it doesn't respond, take the car in for a full fluid change because it might be linked to old and broken down coolant.

Poor Fuel Efficiency

No matter which of the two common causes is affecting your engine's running temperature, you will notice you're stopping at the gas pumps a lot more often when the temperatures are low. Engines are designed to run at about 200 degrees F, so getting stuck at a cooler level leaves your engine struggling to make the best use of the gasoline coming into the combustion chamber. An inexpensive thermostat replacement or coolant flush is the fastest way to restore your former fuel efficiency and save money every time you drive.

Radiator Erosion

Aside from inflating your monthly gas costs, thermostat and coolant problems also put wear and tear on the entire radiator system. Sudden changes in temperature and excessive flushing both erode the radiator from the inside out. Once the erosion is serious enough, small leaks develop that drain out all the fluid. You won't realize it until you're stuck on the side of the road with an overheated engine and an empty cooling system.

For professional automotive service, contact a company such as Gordie's.