How to Choose the perfect Coolant Temperature Sensor
Heat is as much a normal fixture in an engine as a television set is to a couch potato. It's all good though as long as the heat is manageable. What isn't good is when the temperature rises beyond the prescribed level. Everybody knows what could happen then-an engine breakdown may be on the horizon. Fortunately, a cooling system is in place in order to prevent such a scenario from happening. The coolant temperature sensor is one of the centerpieces of this system.
The "Master" Sensor
The coolant temperature sensor, which is commonly located near the thermostat, helps in keeping engine heat at an appropriate level. As its name implies, the coolant temperature sensor measures just how hot or cold the engine is. The cooling system uses that information to effectively deal with the engine temperature. Is the engine too hot? If it is, the sensor will cause the cooling fan to be turned on. The coolant temperature sensor is definitely an intuitive component. It's basically the "brain" of the cooling system, which is why it's referred to as the "master" sensor.
The coolant temperature sensor isn't called the "master" sensor just because it tells the cooling fan when to turn itself on or off. No, the coolant temperature sensor is better than that. How so, you ask? Well, it's also used in determining whether the engine needs a richer or a leaner air-fuel mixture and when to open or close emission channels. Basically, the sensor does a lot for your automobile, thus its nickname is well-deserved.
Even the "Master" Can be Broken
Pretty much all automotive components give out at some point. The "master" sensor isn't exempted from that. Don't worry, you'll know when the coolant temperature sensor is about to go busted via these warning signs:
- Decreased fuel economy due to richer air-fuel mixtures
- Increased emissions (this is related to the symptom above)
- Engine shutdown (because of the bad sensor's inability to send accurate engine temperature information)
Getting a Replacement
Obviously, you'd need to get a replacement for your faulty coolant temperature sensor. An OEM coolant temperature sensor should prove to be a great choice-it's reliable, durable, and will fit in your vehicle nicely. Another good thing about it is that it's very affordable. In fact, you can get a brand-new OEM coolant temperature sensor for as low as $5! There are variants though that can cost as much as $30, but they're still inexpensive by any means. Installing an OEM coolant temperature sensor shouldn't prove to be much of a challenge too, especially if you're an experience DIYer.
How to Install a New Cooling Temperature Sensor
The coolant temperature sensor is considered as the "brain" of the engine cooling system. If it's not in good condition, it's safe to say that your engine will be plagued by overheating problems. A broken sensor isn't hard to replace, and we'll guide you every step of the way on how to do it.
- Catch pan
- Wrench (the size needed depends on your vehicle's make and model)
- Teflon tape
- 1 gallon of coolant
Step 1: Before anything else, let the engine cool down so that you won't hurt yourself.
Step 2: The next step is to drain the radiator. Once the engine is cool, place a catch pan underneath the radiator and drain roughly 1 gallon of coolant. Afterwards, disconnect all the electrical connections on the coolant temperature sensor.
Step 3: Detach the wire that runs from the coolant temperature sensor to the engine block. You can now remove the sensor by using a wrench.
Step 4: Wrap the threads of your new coolant temperature sensor with Teflon tape. After that, you can finally install your brand-new coolant temperature sensor. Make sure that you don't over-tighten it as doing so will significantly affect the sensor's function.
Step 5: Once your new coolant temperature sensor is in place, you'd have to replace the coolant that you drained earlier. Start by taking off the radiator cap and turning on the engine. Wait until it warms up. When your engine reaches 195 degrees ?F, your thermostat will start working. The remaining coolant in the system will begin flowing as well. At this point, you may refill the radiator with coolant. Close the cap afterwards.
Step 6: Test if your newly installed coolant temperature sensor is working properly by letting the engine reach 215 degrees ?F. Once it reaches that temperature, the fans should activate themselves. If they did, congratulate yourself on a job well done. If not, then you may have over-tightened your placement of the sensor, your new sensor may be defective, or your fans may be faulty.