Tips on Buying a Temperature Sender
The stock temperature sender is manufactured to last the life of your car, but corrosion (particularly at the base of the sender) can significantly shorten its lifespan. And unless it is replaced, a damaged temperature sender can wreak havoc on your car's temperature gauge. Here are some simple tips on finding a replacement temperature for your vehicle.
Get the right specs
Not all of the temperature senders on the market are built the same. A temperature sender for a Ford engine, for example, may not work properly with the engine of a GMC truck. Some the critical specifications you should look for in a replacement temperature sender include:
- Thread size. A sender with the wrong thread size may not fit right on the manifold.
- Terminal type. Some senders have a stud terminal, for example, while others have a blade terminal.
- Ohm range. Make sure that the replacement temperature sender has the exact Fahrenheit degree and ohms.
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) temperature senders are made to the exact specifications of the car manufacturer, so you don't have to worry much if you buy a sender that's OEM. However, if you are purchasing an aftermarket sender, it is important that the sender you purchase matches the specifications of your car.
It's not a sensor, it's a sender
One of the common mistakes people make when buying temperature sensors is to confuse the temperature sender with the temperature sensor. The temperature sender, which is usually colored black or brown, sends signals to the temperature gauge to display engine temperature. The temperature sensor, on the other hand, sends signals to the car's computer to determine if the engine is hot enough to release the engine coolant. What's more, the temperature sender is located at the top of the intake manifold on the driver's side, while the temperature sensor is found near the thermostat housing in front of the engine.
The temperature sender and temperature sensor are not interchangeable, so when buying a replacement temperature sender, make sure that it is actually a sender and not a sensor.
Replacing a Bad Temperature Sender
If your temperature gauge is constantly showing high temperatures, then there is something wrong with your sensors. But what if your gauge refuses to show any temperature at all? That is a surefire sign of a faulty temperature sender. Replacing a temperature sender is basically an in-and-out repair, but differentiating between a sender and a sensor is the hard part. Don't fret! With a few basic tools and this installation guide, you'll know exactly how and what to replace under your hood.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Tools you'll need:
- Drain pan
- New temperature sender
Step 1: Lift your car using a jack and support it with a few jack stands. This is to prepare your car for draining your coolant.
Step 2: Slide a drain pan precisely underneath the radiator drain. Using a pair of pliers, open the drain and let the radiator coolant flow into the pan. Close and secure the drain opening before lowering your car.
Step 3: Open the hood of your car and locate the temperature sender, which should be found on the top of the intake manifold and at the side of the thermostat housing. The temperature sender should not be confused with the temperature sensor. Sending units have only one wire attached to it while a temperature sensor will have three. To know which one is the temperature sender, simply look for a spark plug-shaped unit with one wire leading out of it. The said wire should also be attached to the general wire harness, which is then connected to the temperature control unit and temperature gauge of your car's dash area.
Step 4: Now that you've located your temperature sender, remove the electrical wire from the top of the sender.
Step 5: Using a wrench, unfasten the sender using a wrench and turn it counterclockwise. Once removed, discard the old temperature sensor appropriately.
Step 6: Thread the new temperature sender in the slot of the old one. Turn it clockwise and tighten it with a wrench to completely install the sender.
Step 7: Reattach the electrical connecter to the top of the sender.
Step 8: Refill your radiator with coolant and close the hood of your car.
Step 9: Now that you've successfully installed the new temperature sender, you can take your car out for a spin to test-drive the part.