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Symptoms of A Bad or Failing Coolant Temperature Sensor

The optimal performance of the engine is dependent upon the proper functioning of your coolant. A failing coolant is going to hinder how your engine behaves in many ways. Let me tell you how.

Your engine continuously combusts a lot of fuel while it is running. If you are driving in the daytime, your engine will become quite hot. Hot temperatures are not good for working machines, especially engines.

So to deal with this, every engine is fitted with a simple mechanism that maintains its cool. It does so by running cool fluids throughout the parts of the engine, letting them absorb the heat the engine emits.

Overheating can actually make the engine stop and break down. To counter that, the water that is present in the radiator flows in the pipes and maintains temperature.

coolant temperature sensor

coolant temperature sensor

The engine oils that a car uses are also meant for this purpose.

And thus, it is quite important that you keep a check on the level of coolant inside your radiator, and it’s temperature.

What is a coolant temperature sensor

A coolant temperature sensor is a device that is screwed to the back of the engine’s block and is meant to check the temperature of your coolant.

It serves as a bridge between the temperature of the coolant and other parts of the engine because most of their activity depends upon the temperature of the coolant.

Its basic working principle is that it makes use of electrical resistance to measure the temperature of the coolant.

These measurements are given to the control unit of the engine, which uses it to maintain and regulate appropriate ignition time, and also the fuel injection.

Signs of a bad or failing coolant temperature sensor

Every single part of the engine is bound to start failing after receiving its fair share of wear and tear. The same is the case with the ECT sensor.

ECT sensor

ECT sensor

An ECT sensor is another name for the coolant temperature sensor. Its damage can lead to severe problems related to the engine.

Listed below are a few issues that you may encounter if your sensor is failing.

1. Poor mileage

The fuel pressure regulator can be interrupted if the sensor gets faulty. This is because the damaged ECT sensor will not send the right signals to the computer that is onboard.

For example, if your engine is cold, and the damaged sensor is not able to detect it, your engine will end up using a lot more fuel than it needs to keep the “apparent” temperature of the engine warm.

Due to this, the mileage of the engine is going to drop significantly. And the performance of the engine will also be affected.

2. The check engine light is going to activate

This is the main reason the check engine light is there to inform you whenever the computer detects a fault in your engine and how your engine needs to go through an inspection now.

So, this will probably be the first system of your coolant temperature sensor going bad. You will see that the check engine light is going to activate.

3. The smoke exhaust pipe is going to emit black smoke

As it has been mentioned earlier, the main reason the engine begins to mess up after the sensor encounters issues is that the wrong signals are sent to the computer about the temperature.

There is another drawback to that. Your smoke exhaust will start emitting black colored smoke. This is because due to the wrong signals, the ECU ends up enriching the mixture of fuels to such an extent that the process of combustion becomes pretty difficult.

The burning of more than needed fuel is, in turn, going to burn, thus producing black smoke instead of regular colored smoke.

If you see something like that happening, it is a signal that you need to get your coolant temperature sensor checked.

4. Overheating of the engine

Behind the grille of the radiator, a fan is located that is responsible for the cooling of the coolant. This fan operates solely on the signals that are sent to it from the computer.

The hotter the computer signals it to be, the harder it has to work to keep the coolant cool.

However, if the computer is not receiving correct information from the coolant temperature sensor, it will not be able to command the fan to operate in the appropriate way.

When the fan is not operating correctly, the temperature of the coolant will be left unattended, and the temperature of the engine is going to fluctuate from the stable numbers.

temperature of the engine

temperature of the engine

There are some cars that have a separate sensor for these fans. If this is the case, then the failure of the coolant temperature sensor is not going to affect the performance of the fan in any way.

However, this is not the case in most cars, so beware.

5. The idling will become poor

If your coolant temperature sensor is not working efficiently, then it will be totally up to the engine to adjust the fuel mixture according to the wrong signals it is going to receive.

This will mean that your car will shake when it is on idle.

Your car will also begin to misbehave when you are driving it at low speeds. Moreover, you will notice other strange behaviors in your car that are not usually there.

So if you notice poor idling, or shaking of your car when it is running on low speeds, maybe it is about time you check the performance of your coolant temperature sensor.

However, car shaking on idle may not always mean that the problem is with your coolant temperature sensor only; it may also mean any other fault in the engine of your car.

Whatever the case, it is still time to run your car’s engine through an inspection.

How can you make sure that you are taking good care of your coolant temperature sensor

If you manage to take a few steps towards the maintenance of this little piece, you will be able to make it last quite long.

And these maintenance tips are not just going to reduce the problems that are related to your coolant; they will also contribute to the general well -being of your engine.

So make sure you practice these.

·1. Do not fill your radiator with tap water

A lot of people don’t care about what they are filling their radiators with. They will pour tap water up to its brink, and be done with it. This is quite harmful to the engine.

The tap water is full of many contaminants, such as rust elements, and minerals as well. These contaminants bring much harm to the entire engine, not just the coolant temperature sensor.

And if this water begins to boil in case of extremely hot weather or engine temperature, these contaminants are going to deposit permanently in the working parts of the engine, causing tons of issues.

Therefore, you ought to use coolant for your engine at all costs.

Coolant is designed so that it provides your engine with decent lubrication, according to the requirement of your engine, and prevents the formation of rust on engine parts.

·2. Fix the oil leaks as soon as possible

If your coolant gets contaminated after the leak causing the oil to seep into the engine block, your coolant temperature sensor is going to mess up.

So you are required to fix the oil leaks that you encounter as soon as you possibly can, to avoid the contamination of your coolant.

·3. Check to see if there are any coolant leaks

If you have filled your radiator with an appropriate amount of coolant, you will not have to refill it a lot. Because coolant is supposed to last quite long.

any coolant leaks

any coolant leaks

But, in case you notice that the levels of your coolant keep dropping frequently, and you need to refill it more often, the chances are that your coolant is leaking, and you need to check it.

If the amount of coolant in your car is way less than the regular, your ECT is probably going to end up ending the wrong engine signals.

So keep your coolant levels in check for the maintenance of coolant temperature sensor.

4. Changing the coolant temperature sensor

A coolant temperature sensor is a small device. It does not cost much, and you can easily replace it yourself. So please keep replacing it every now and then.

It is present down the engine bay. Once you have found it, take the cables connecting the sensor to the ECU, and disconnect them.

Then, unscrew the coolant temperature sensor. The last step is to screw the new temperature sensor in order to install it and connect the connector cables again.

Final Thoughts

A coolant temperature sensor is a device that is critical for the proper functioning of the engine. There are many ways to detect the failure.

And as soon as you do, it is important that you address it promptly. Otherwise, you will end up doing a lot of damage to your engine.

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