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2002 Taurus Wagon. The temp gauge is right in the middle, Starts at low/cold and goes up to the middle and does NOT read hot but on occasion there will be a little steam coming off the engine and when I pop the hood it's hot.

In the past I replaced the cap, might do that again. I seem to very slowly be losing coolant but no puddle under the car- I put papers there at night to check. My issue is why the temp gauge doesn't read hot. That would let me know something is wrong.
 

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Cracked coolant tank, faulty cap, timing cover gasket, h2o pump beginning to seep, hose/hose clamp leaking, radiator etc. Many of these leaks may drip on hot eng./exhaust components and evaporate causing the steam you're seeing. May be best to confirm the actual eng. temp with a scan tool or IR thermometer.
 

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^^^^ +1

Even in cold ambient temps coolant temp should be around 210 F to 215 F with a properly operating thermostat.

If your car has the original failure prone coolant reservoir cap I suggest replacing it with the updated redesigned cap before the original cap suffers a catastrophic failure and blows coolant all over the engine bay.

15+ years ago, wife had a 2000 Windstar. In cold and damp winter temperatures she complained about some steam wisps out of the front of the hood after driving several miles. I traced it down to light frost that had collected on the radiator while parked outside overnight vaporizing once the thermostat opened and the radiator suddenly getting hot coolant flowing thru it.
 

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In cold weather if heater is working well it will take a while to get the coolant up to stat temp as the heater will take it all. Pic DOHC. Once the inside is warm the temp will go up to stat temp ~190F.
My Buick Lucerne Iron block takes longer But the heater in it is more powerful. Heated seats and heated steering wheel make it less of a pain.
Of course we live in the North Country and it is COLD here and I make short trips.

-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for the help, m question wasn't what could cause an overheated engine but rather why the temperature gauge would not read hot.
 

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Thanks everyone for the help, m question wasn't what could cause an overheated engine but rather why the temperature gauge would not read hot.
It's possible that what you perceive to be an overheated/too hot engine is within normal limits. Borrow or buy a IR scanner to determine exactly what the temperature is and go from there.
 

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Temp gauges since the 90s or so are all dummied out - they won’t move past a certain point until the engine is near meltdown range.

I agree with all the other posters - you need to do your due diligence to see if you have a real issue or not.
 

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Agree, my
Temp gauges since the 90s or so are all dummied out - they won’t move past a certain point until the engine is near meltdown range.

I agree with all the other posters - you need to do your due diligence to see if you have a real issue or not.
Lin cont shows centered from OBDII 180 to 225F. That high one at outside 101F and in traffic. Again same car temp went to the top when it blew coolant out the bad cap. Gas gages noted for being very approximate at best. I have had ones that would do 120 miles before off F and others that never make F. I have had at least 7 with "miles to empty" and they were no better than the gage. Had Lin Cont that when at "0" miles to E, could put 12 gal in at the pump. Dealer replaced the pump/sender and all is OK. MPG seems quite accurate. That does not depend on the sender unit.
MPH can change lots depending on wind. A/C load and such.
-chart-
 

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^^^ Agree in the G4 gas gauges. The gas gauges on the G4 Bulls are pretty inaccurate. On my 05 SEL Premium Tec, If I fill the tank (and I mean FILL the tank all the way to the top) gauge will read full. Within 50 miles of mostly interstate driving gauge will drop to 3/4. Another 100 miles it will be a little below 1/2, and will slowly drop after that. Wifes 06 Vulcan gas gauge acts exactly the same. FYI, trip computer MPG will typically show 24+ MPG during warm weather dropping to low 20s during the cold weather here in SE WI.

Odd thing is the gas gauges on the 95 Vulcan, 88 Turbo Coupe and 86 Tbird 5.0 V8 are very accurate and very linear. I can guess within a gallon how much gas they will take to fill the tanks with a quick glance as the gas gauges.
 
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