Temperature Gauge Troubleshooting

Asked by Feb 20, 2014 at 08:44 AM about the 2001 Toyota Camry CE

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I've got a 2001 Toyota Camry with over 244,000 miles and still going strong. While
driving to work today, sitting in heavy traffic, I noticed my temperature gauge sneaking
up towards the 2 o'clock position. I got off the next exit and drove the back roads to
work and it seemed to settle back to 3 o'clock with only a couple of times when I'd sit
at a light or start to go after the light changed would it sneak up again before settling
back down. I take good care of this vehicle, the last time I had the coolant exchanged
was back in 9/2012 at 220,000 miles. I'm at work now and will let it cool down and look
at it at lunch. I've not noticed any coolant in the snow recently (I park on a gravel spot
that's been covered in snow for awhile) that would make me believe it's leaking
somewhere. I have noticed this cold winter that it's taken a little longer than usual for
the heater to kick in while warming up my vehicle. I thought it was just me but could
this be a clue?

I'm not sure how to go about troubleshooting the problem. I know it could be a
thermostat, a leaky hose (which again, I don't think it is), or another thermostat sensor
in the radiator. I've never had to replace the radiator itself.

Any thoughts/help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

3 Answers

33,655

Change out your thermostat. Cheap part and easy to do. Most likely the problem since it's affecting your heat.

Thanks for your answer. I did purchase the thermostat along with coolant and when I checked under the hood the coolant reservoir was empty. I filled that up and have been checking every day since and all seems well. The reservoir emptied about half way since and the temperature hasn't gone above the half-way point, while the heat is working as expected. Looks like it was simply my coolant level was too low. I will keep an eye on it because I'm not quite sure why I'm losing coolant. I'm not seeing anything in any parking spaces so it doesn't look like I'm losing it that way. Thanks again.

I've got an '01 Camry as well, and had a somewhat similar situation recently. Mine was traced to a hairline crack at the top of the radiator, in the plastic section. When the car would get hot, and the radiator would pressurize, the fluid would dribble through the crack and evaporate gradually. The leak was not dramatic enough for the coolant to pool beneath the car and become obvious. Eventually, I replaced the radiator and the coolant level has held steady. I would advise a thorough inspection of the plastic radiator cap, both at the front AND rear, as mine cracked in both places.

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