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.