Temperature Gauge Rising But Car Not Overheating [Why?]

Most car owners have experienced that the car’s temperature gauge goes up and down while driving. It is due to the fact that sometimes your car engine gets too hot due to internal issues and climatic conditions where sometimes it can be at normal temperature or below that due to the same reasons! That is why the temperature gauge is considered to be an essential part of the car’s engine system.

It indicates the car engine’s temperature and informs whether your car is overheating, is at normal temperature, or is underheating! Sometimes you may also experience issues like the temperature gauge rising but car not overheating and vice versa. This can happen due to multiple reasons, which we shall discuss later in the article that follows.

temperature gauge rising but car not overheating
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and images. I earn advertising/referral fees if you make a purchase by clicking them. There is no extra cost to you. See our full disclosure here. )

But before we proceed to that section, we need to have some other helpful information about the temperature gauge and the way it works to inform you about the temperature of the car.

So, let us know what a temperature gauge is, what its usage is, what are the standard temperature gauge readings, what are the causes of temperature gauge rising but car not overheating, and all other relevant details in the sections that follow! Keep exploring.

What is a Temperature Gauge in a Car?

While most of us have an idea about what a temperature gauge is, we might not know how does a car temperature gauge work! So, before knowing that, let us find out what a temperature gag is! Well, it is a device in your car engine system that indicates the temperature of the coolant. It will show you whether the coolant is normal, cool, or hot.

If you are thinking about what does the temperature gauge indicate, know that it indicates the temperature of the coolant that runs throughout the car engine and absorbs the heat produced by the engine cylinders to keep the car engine temperature in check.

Now coming to how does a temperature gauge work! Well, the heat that the coolant collects through the engine system is related to the atmosphere with the help of the radiator. There is a sensor that is located near the thermostat housing that is utilized by the temperature gauge to send electrical signals through the car’s internal computer.

Then it directs the gauge on the dashboard to the accurate temperature of the coolant. So, if you were thinking about what the temperature gauge in a car measures, it is the temperature of the coolant that it measures! And this is how it works in informing you about the temperature of your car engine.

What is Normal Temperature Gauge Reading in a Car?

Now that you have come to know about the high-temperature reading of the gauge, you must also want to know about what is normal temperature gauge reading in a car! According to automobile experts, the average temperature at which your car runs just fine without you being anxious is anywhere between 195-220 degrees.

You can feel relaxed as long as the needle is in and around the center of the gauge. A normal car temperature gauge shows signs of going up and down depending upon the weather conditions or the condition of the vehicle as well. But if you notice that the needle is going higher and higher while driving, you must consider it alarming.

While the car temperature gauge in the middle indicates a normal temperature, rising up higher indicates overheating, which can cause significant harm to your vehicle if you do not stop immediately. So, it’s recommended that you stop your car as soon as you notice the gauge needle is going higher.

What Temperature is Considered Overheating in a Car?

You have read about the normal temperature of the vehicle and at what heat it is not dangerous! Now, you will know what temperature is considered overheating in a car which eventually puts it in danger. Generally, anything beyond the normal temperature is considered to be overheating.

But if you ask the exact temperature, which you should consider alarming, it is anything between 225 and 235 degrees!

So, yes, if you have the question- Is 230 degrees too hot for an engine? It definitely is!

If ever you experience such overheating of your car or see the temperature rising on the gauge, you should immediately stop driving the car and pull it to the side and check for the coolant.

Because an overheating car temperature can damage your car extensively! If the temperature goes above 245 degrees, it is alarming and too dangerous for your car. It can cause great havoc to the engine. So, keep a check on the temperature always!

Causes of Temperature Gauge Rising But Car Not Overheating

There are several cases where the temperature gauge goes up, but the car doesn’t overheat. However, it is not too dangerous if the temperature gauge rises, but the car is not overheating. If there is any fault in the gauge, you should consider fixing it to get accurate measurements when the car actually overheats! So, below are some reasons why even if the temperature gauge rises, the car doesn’t overheat. Keep reading…

Faulty Temperature Gauge

This is one of the primary reasons why the car temperature gauge goes up and down while driving. When there is a fault in the gauge itself, you cannot expect it to show you accurate results regardless of the car’s temperature.

So, in the cases when the car temperature, or coolant temperature to be precise, is high, it can show you low on the gauge, and when the car temperature is low, it can show you high.

Sometimes it is the dirt and debris that causes the sensor to malfunction. And sometimes, the temperature sent to the computer can be abnormally high, which triggers the computer to make adjustments which in turn actually heats up the car.

So the heating is more in the sensor than in the car, and that is why you can experience that car running hot but not overheating sometimes! Repairing the gauge or replacing it is the option you have to fix the issue!

Blown Head Gasket

Are you worried about the temperature gauge high but car not overheating issues? Well, a blown head gasket might be another reason why this can happen! A blown or faulty head gasket will lead to a high-temperature gauge reading, but the car won’t overheat.

When the head gasket is damaged, the coolant plus water mixture will start leaking out without indicating anything. The entire mixture will reach the radiator at the same time. And because there is no way out for gasses through the engine gasket cylinder, the coolant and water mixture would be thrown out via hose or pipe through the overflowed reservoir tank.

And this leads to billowing steam from the radiator of the car. And when the engine feels hot but not overheating, the temperature gauge will automatically show a high temperature, but the actual temperature of the engine might not be as much!

Water Pump Failure

If you notice that the temperature gauge goes straight to high, but the car does not overheat, then it might also be because of a faulty water pump! When there is a faulty water pump issue, it will lead to increased engine temperature by reducing the efficiency of the car.

The reason why the water pump gets defective varies on a few factors that include restriction of circulating fluid due to a clogged or blocked passage, too much activity of the housing and the impeller, lack of proper maintenance, etc.

And as the water pump is one of the major components in the engine system to keep it cool all throughout, if it becomes faulty, you are likely to experience that the car temperature gauge goes up and down frequently.

As most water pumps remain hidden under belts and hoses, it is evident that finding out the fault is difficult. Thus, you need the help of a mechanic to see through the problem and try to fix it immediately.

Low Coolant Level or Air in Cooling System

Are you still thinking about what are the causes of temperature gauge rising but car not overheating? Well, consider this another significant reason behind such occurring. If you have a low coolant level or air in your car’s cooling system, then it can lead to the temperature gauge showing a high temperature!

As you read above, the water pump is an essential component in keeping the car cool, but it is actually the coolant that makes the engine cooler by absorbing the heat that is produced inside the system. And thus, if the coolant level is low or there is less air in the cooling system, you can experience the engine being heated badly.

The size of your car’s engine decides how much quality is sufficient to keep the car running without any overheating issues. And if the temperature gauge goes up and down and no heat is produced, then you can be sure that there is less coolant in the engine.

Clogged Radiator

When the car temperature gauge rising but car not overheating, it can also be due to a clogged radiator. As the radiator plays an important role in circulating the coolant in the car engine system, if it becomes faulty or clogged, it can lead to heating of the car.

Also, when the radiator is clogged, the radiator fan won’t work properly, which is another reason behind such overheating issues.

The radiator plays a very important role in circulating the coolant properly, and thus any malfunctioning in it can lead to a rise in temperature, which can eventually make the temperature gauge show high reading. It is one of the causes of high temperature gauge in car, but it is not essential that the car is overheating!

Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

Have you wondered why is your car temperature gauge high but car not overheating? It may be because of a bad coolant temperature sensor. Well, it is evident that when a sensor goes bad, it will not give you the correct reading anyway! And so is the case with your car coolant temperature sensor going bad.

Even if the coolant is cold or normal, it can send wrong signals to the gauge, which will show an extremely high temperature. But in general, the temperature might just be normal, and there is no issue with the car overheating.

If the coolant temperature sensor becomes faulty, it will lead to other repercussions also such as increased fuel consumption, rough engine idle, black smoke coming out from the exhaust, and other such issues. Thus, if you wonder why temperature gauge reads hot but engine cool, you can think of a bad coolant temperature sensor on record for the problem.

Damaged Thermostat

For those who do not know, the thermostat plays a pivotal role in keeping the car engine temperature in check! And a damaged thermostat can be one of the primary reasons why the car running hot but not overheating.

The thermostat regulates the movement of coolant through the car’s entire engine system. So, when there is a problem or defect, it will deliberately affect the movement of the coolant inside. Either it will move too fast or too slowly, depending on the type of damage.

If the coolant gets circulated too fast, it can cause overheating of the engine. Though the actual temperature of the car engine might not be that high, due to the damaged thermostat, the temperature gauge will read a higher value of the car engine.

And if the coolant does not propagate too fast, the car engine would also not produce too much heat, which will again send wrong signals to the temperature gauge. Thus, if you find out that the car temp gauge high but car not hot then this can be one solid reason to look out for!

Bad or Failing Radiator Fan

If the car temperature gauge goes up and down, it can be due to a bad or failing radiator fan. For the unversed, the radiator fan is responsible for declaring the temperature of the car coolant as it picks up the excessive heat from the system.

Any problem or malfunctioning in the fan may lead to adverse effects by making it hotter. Also, if the function of the radiator fan fluctuates, then it can cause it to go up and down incessantly.

So, when you wonder why my car temperature gauge is going up and down, know that it can be due to a bad or malfunctioning radiator fan. And it is one major reason why the temperature gauge can show extreme temperature at times and then slow down again.

So if your car is not overheating, but the temperature gauge shows signs of high temperature, you can consider it a problem with the radiator fan.

Broken Hoses

The broken or damaged hoses can be one good reason why the car temperature gauge hot but engine cool! The hoses play the role of a medium in transporting the coolant through the entire engine system. And if it’s broken or damaged due to overheating problems, it can lead to obstruction in coolant circulation.

A leaky or broken hose will not be able to circulate the coolant efficiently and might also allow its escape. Moreover, a lower amount of coolant in the radiator can cause other complexities too!

Thus, when you discover that the car temperature gauge rises then falls, you must know that the car radiator might be full of coolant, but there is damage or malfunctioning in the hose that leads to the rise in temperature, which eventually makes the temperature gauge read higher too!

You may need to repair or replace the hose depending upon the intensity of the damage!

What to Do If the Temperature Gauge Rising But Car Not Overheating?

We have read about all the possible causes of temperature gauge rising but car not overheating issues in the sections above. Now, we will read about how to fix them in the simplest and easiest ways! The following given solutions will help you out with the problem. Read on…

Firstly, if you find out that the temperature gauge reads high but car not overheating, you can expect the cause to be one of the causes mentioned above. Hence, anything related to a damaged part, be it a blown gasket or damaged radiator, can be fixed by either repairing or replacing the part. The cost of such repairs and replacements depends on the type of damage and the labor cost associated with it.

Next, if you find out that the car running hot but not overheating, you can cut down all the electrical accessories and let the car run that way until it cools down. This is one of the effective methods to rely on as the car cools down efficiently when the electrical accessories are not turned on.

If you are still wondering how to fix temperature gauge rising but car not overheating issues, then this is another ideal solution to look out for! Open all the doors and windows and move everything out of the passenger seat. This will allow hot air to go out and cool air to come in, which will eventually lower the temperature of the car.

One of the major causes of high temperature gauge in car is related to the coolant. The lack of coolant, leakage of coolant, non-circulation of coolant, and anything associated with it can cause the problem. Hence, you need to fix the issues as per the problem to lower the temperature gauge reading!

If you face issues like the temperature gauge high but car not overheating, then you can also resort to radiator cooling solutions that are low cost!

Do you know what should you do if your temperature gauge moves up to just below the red zone? Stop right away! Yes, you should not drive your car with such a high indication on the gauge. Pull aside the car in a shady area and turn off the ignition. So, please wait until it cools down, and then check for any possible damage. You may need the help of a car mechanic to sort the issue and might also need a total engine replacement!

Temperature Gauge High But Car Not Overheating – Author’s View

By now, you have read about the reasons why the temperature gauge reads high but car not overheating and how to fix this issue. Many times, the car owner neglects the overheating issue of the car citing reasons such as hot weather conditions or it being a normal day-to-day affair. But seldom do they realize that car overheating (or underheating) is a serious problem that doesn’t only lead to damage to the vehicle but can also prove fatal to the ones driving it regularly!

The very common solutions to the problem are mentioned in detail in the sections above. But sometimes, it is not at our convenience to experience all the given methods to solve a problem. So, if you ask me how to fix temperature gauge rising but car not overheating issues, I would suggest implementing the following methods

  • Open the doors and windows and turn off the ignition
  • Switch off the electrical accessories
  • Repair or replace the damaged parts sooner

These, in my opinion, are the best ways to solve the problem. But what should you do if your temperature gauge moves up to just below the red zone? Would you try some other methods? Surely you can! Also, all the methods mentioned here are effective, and you can try the ones that you think are best suited for you and your car! Happy driving!

About Jace

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars and pickup trucks. Applying innovative car care products and installing different latest car accessories are my hobbies. Also, I love sharing my adventurous experience with car lovers.

Leave a Comment