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how do you change your temp gauge sensor?

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Andy96XLT, January 9, 2008.

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    1. Andy96XLT

      Andy96XLT Active Member

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      Hey everyone,
      Now that i am getting more used to working on my ex i want to tackle this problem. Ever since I got my 96 the temp gauge has not been working. It will move a little if i rev the engine over 3000 RPM often, but even if i do that it just barely gets to a quarter way up if that much, than drops once i go back to no high reving. The dealership said it is probably the sender unit, but they need to hook it up to their machine and it will be about 200 to fix. Rather than spend the money i would prefer to try to change the sending unit myself if at all possible. Can anyone let me know where the temp sensor is located, and if anyone has done this is it an easy thing? It seems straight forward enough. Thanks!:salute:
       
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    3. Convict1997

      Convict1997 Active Member

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      The temp sensor is an easy fix. Finding it is the hardest part. It really depends on the motor you have. It should be located in the lower intake towards the front. It will have some kind of connector or plug on the top of it. The sending unit had a threaded stud pointing straight up. A single wire with a rubber boot fit over the stub. The sensor had an actual connector with a couple of wires in it. Just pull the plug/connector off, unscrew the sensor and install the new one. I looked in the Haynes manual and I only saw a listing for the coolant temp sending unit. On my mustang the manual said the same thing, but it turned out that the sending unit and the sensor were two different things. The sending unit was the one on the lower intake and the sensor was screwed into one of the metal heater tubes that connect to the fire wall heater hoses. I'm pretty sure that the sending unit is the one that controls the gauge, though. They're both pretty cheap, so what I did was purchase both so I knew what I was looking for. After that is was pretty easy to find them. Reading your description sounds like you might have a thermostat that is stuck open. My mustang had the same issue. I replaced the sensor and the sending unit and it did the same thing. The needle would never move unless I was really getting on it and then would cool back down. Turns out one of the arms on the thermostat broke keeping it open all the time. The motor was never able to warm up. As a result, I only had heat at those times when I was driving it hard and then no more heat when I let off. Check your heat. If it doesn't warm up at all or is very seldom, then it's not the gauge or sensor giving you problems.
       
    4. Andy96XLT

      Andy96XLT Active Member

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      hello,
      My heat does work so hopefully I am good with that. I have the 4.0 OHV if that helps you any. I will check with the auto parts store today though and see if they know how to also. Sometimes they have a write up for certain things. You gave me a great start though. Thank you!!!
       
    5. Andy96XLT

      Andy96XLT Active Member

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      AHH what is the differece between a water temp sensor and a coolant temp sensor? Also I can only find a water temp sender, but not a coolant temp sender... i have a feeling im going to end up at the dealership:(
       
    6. Convict1997

      Convict1997 Active Member

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      There is a temperature sending unit and a coolant temperature sensor. The sending unit is what sends the signal to the temperature gauge and tells the needle how far to move. The engine coolant temperature sensor (ect sensor) sends the temperature of the coolant to the ?ecm? ?pcm? One of those important computer pieces. lol. I'd recommend picking up a Haynes manual. Section 3 lists the replacement of the sending unit. Section 6 lists the replacement of the temp sensor.
       
    7. 96eb96

      96eb96 Well-Known Member

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      Not hard at all...
      The sender is a one wire device that is above the TSTAT. If you have a 96, I strongly suggest you replace your TSTAT as well.

      Use a high quality thermostat with a bleed hole (motorcraft comes to mind).
       
    8. Andy96XLT

      Andy96XLT Active Member

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      isn't replacing the thermostat a process though? Im not very mechanically inclined, or at least I have not done much.
       
    9. Charlie

      Charlie Well-Known Member

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    10. 96eb96

      96eb96 Well-Known Member

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      Notes for the beginner!
      If you have a 96, spray some PB blaster into the sender threads before you remove it just to be safe. You can do that the night before. Make sure the thermostat is oriented with the bleed hole at the top and you install a new round gasket!
       
    11. mshuler009

      mshuler009 Active Member

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      ok, I have a question....on my engine (same motor) it looks like the temp sender and sensor are switched. The one with the plug is on the left, and it only has one wire going into the connector, and the one with one wire is on the right.........what effects could this have considering my other posts about this topic?
       
    12. peterfnet

      peterfnet New Member

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      If it turns out to be the gauge....... I had some hilarious results from my broken one. It would sometimes stay cold, then skyrocket to red hot, then maybe level out.

      There is an anti-slosh module that is sold with the Temp/Fuel gauge from FORD. Save yourself the headache and buy a new one from DirectFordParts.com or another ford dealer. The gauge and antislosh board apparently are paired and calibrated in the factory according to the directions that came with it. It explicitly warns against mixing modules.

      I tried to save a few bucks and buy it from the junk yard. But different units have different lights holes on them. For example: my vehicle has a check engine light on the right side, but there was a 'light hole' for it on the gauge from the junk yard. I also replaced my battery/oil gauge from the junk yard and I accidentally covered up my check engine light since the gauge had no hole for it.

      the directfordparts.com recommends you send them your VIN number and they will get you the correct part. Or you could go to your local dealer and try to get a decent price, but most charge MSRP. That website will charge less. that's my experience. Hope it helps
       
    13. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      I have a 98 4.0 OHV Ranger XLT 4X4.

      My temp gauge needle hardly moves until I shut off the motor then it moves to midway between the C &H and then gradually drops back to cold.

      From reading similar posts from other members I think I’ve narrowed the cause down to the temp sensor or the temp sending unit.

      It looks as if both are located on either side of the thermostat housing as in the above photo. Is it best to replace both just to make sure?
       
    14. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Only one (Temp sending unit) controls the gauge; the other (temp sensor) provides coolant temperature info to the PCM (the computer that controls the engine). Just do the sending unit.
       
    15. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      in the picture supplied, it appears that the gauge sending unit is to the left of the tstat. anyway, it should be the one with only one wire. the coolant temp sensor appears to be to the right of the tstat in the photo. another way to tell which is which, once you take it out, is that the coolant temp sensor has a pointed bottom and the gauge sensor is flat. plan on spilling a little antifreeze (not much if you're quick), don't put too much goo or teflon tape on the sending unit or it can't make a ground connection, and (words to live by) don't overtighten.
       
    16. Stick4503

      Stick4503 Active Member

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      Hey just changed out mine yesterday. $9.99 at autozone. Did not take long at all. Drain the water from the radiator down a little below the upper radiator hose and you want loose as much.
       
    17. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      I replaced the temp gauge sending unit but still no reading on the temp gauge.
      What can I check next the thermostat, although I am getting heat.
       
    18. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      If you are getting heat, most likely thermostat is OK. If not the sender unit (the one with one wire) then the problem is most likely with the gauge itself or the wiring connecting the sender to the gauge. Try this - turn key to on, unplug wire from sender and look at gauge - should be full Cold. Then ground the wire and look at gauge - should be full Hot. If this is true, wiring and gauge are OK and you got another bum sender unit. If this is not true, then most likely the gauge is defective. The wire is possible, but unlikely - wires don't often fail.

      To test either the gauge or the wire will require removing the insturment cluster. The temp guage wire is red with a white stripe and is in the #3 position in the 12 pin connector (there are 3 connectors - a 10 pin, a 12 pin, and a 16 pin) that plugs into the back of the insturment cluster. According to the wiring diagram, it is the only red/white wire in those three connectors. You can use a VOM on that point and do the same unplug/ground the wire at the sender and see if your voltage changes as it should - this would tell you if the wire connection is OK. Checking out the gauge is harder, but if sender and wire are OK, gauge is only thing left.

      ONE MORE THING - I noticed in the wiring diagram that the temp sender is also connected to the message center (if you have one). If you do, try unplugging the message center connector that has the red/white wire (Pin #8 in a 12 pin connector) and see if that makes any difference.

      Good luck.
       
    19. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      Thanks for the reply Bob.

      The coolant level was a little low this morning (no leaks anywhere) so I’m going to purge the system again to make sure there are no air locks.

      My sender unit has two pins but only one red/white wire coming out of the connector. Is it possible the connector could be faulty?

      I’ll do the other tests this afternoon after it’s warmed up a bit -2C this morning.
       
    20. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Jessie711,
      That is not the sender unit for the gauge; if it has two pins that is the coolant temp sensor that provides input to the computer.

      The gauge sender unit only has one pin that the connector on the red/white wire hooks onto; it grounds thru the sender unit body.

      The coolant temp sensor for the computer is connected with a two wire plug; those wires are light green/red and grey/red.
       
    21. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      This is what I have the same layout as the above photo. But on mine the unit on the left of the thermostat has two pins but only one red/white wire coming out. The unit on the right of the thermostat also has a socket on it with wires coming out of it.

      [​IMG]

      When I grounded the red/white wire the gauge went to full hot so I’m assuming it is connected to the sender unit.

      Here are a couple of views of the one I removed it’s listed as a switch in NAPA auto parts catalogue.

      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
       
    22. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Jessie711,
      Looks to me like someone put the wrong sensor in the left hand side, then put on a two wire connector to fit it. Manufacturers just don't use two wire connectors and then put in only one wire. If you look at the picture in Post #8, the left hand female plug is a single wire 90 degree connector. And - if you read Koda2000's description in Post #14, he says that the gauge sending unit should have a flat bottom; yours is not flat!

      So - I think you still have the wrong sending unit installed because I think the old one you took out was the wrong one also. I looked for pics on Advance Auto website - they only carry the sensor for the computer, not the gauge, and it looks just the one you took off. My suggestion - go to the Ford dealer and tell them that you need the sender for the temp gauge and see what they show you. Bet you anything it will be different than what you took out. You probably have to buy a new connector also to put on the red/white wire. Good luck and make sure you come back and let us know what you find!
       
    23. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      I checked with the previous owner and she assures me that there has never been any work done on the cooling system. The vehicle only has 38,900 miles on it so I’m sure it’s the original sensor.

      This is the unit I replaced Part # F77F10884AB

      http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=40542

      To make sure I will check with the Ford Dealer later today.
       
    24. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Interesting! Let us know what the Ford dealer shows you. Give them your VIN number when you visit them; it does help get the correct parts.

      I looked at the schematics for the Ranger (was looking at Explorer before) and notice that the Ranger does have a "Slosh Module" associated with the temp gauge. That provides another point of failure per peterfnet's Post #11 above. Once we are sure that you have the correct temp guage sender unit installed, if that doesn't fix it you will have to dig into the gauge/slosh module as the problem.
       
    25. Jessie711

      Jessie711 New Member

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      Hi Bob,

      I checked with the Ford Dealer and they verified that the two pin sending unit was the correct one for my truck but could not tell me why.

      So I decided to replace the thermostat and now the heater gauge is working. The old thermostat was open but only very slightly. The puzzling part is I had good heat probably because the engine was heating up but not enough to operate the gauge.

      Hopefully the truck will run better and the MPG will improve, although it wasn’t that bad before.

      Thanks again for the help and support.

      Jessie
       
    26. bobflood

      bobflood Elite Explorer

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      Glad you fixed it! Makes it more difficult when schematic doesn't agree w real world!
       
      Last edited: May 9, 2014

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