High Temperature Indicator

Dear Click and Clack Community,

I recently lost my 83 Tercel because of overheating, and now I’m apprehensive about coolant temperature.

In addition to an indicator needle pegging between cold and hot, do newer cars reinforce high temperature indication with a warning light in the dashboard?

It’s easy to miss the indicator needle because it makes a gradual transition.

I need an indicator light because it’s more obvious and perhaps easier to recognize.

Are there aftermarket devices that connect with the car computer or perhaps an aftermarket thermocouple with a programmable temperature setpoint with luminescent indication?

I want to mount this thing on the dashboard for thorough temperature warning indication, and a gauge indicator is neither adequate, nor fair for people who don’t find reading gauges every 20 seconds stimulating.

I need a light.

Perhaps, my 2000 Toyota Sienna already has luminescent high temperature warning indication?

Thank you for your advice.


Karen Alice

Monroe, Louisiana

I don’t remember if your van has both a gauge and warning light, but many newer vehicles do. Try turning the key to run (right before crank) and look at the lights in the dash when they all come on. If it has one, you will see it at this time. Some vehicles just have a plain red light near the high end of the gauge.

The owner’s manual will tell you if there is a high temperature warning light in addition to the gauge. It will tell you many other useful things about your Sienna. Please take the time to read the manual.

As mcparadise stated, it is definitely time for Karen Alice to read that Owner’s Manual. What you read there may surprise you, and in the long run, it will help you to keep the vehicle operating safely and economically.

As to a warning light, vs. a gauge, while it would be nice to have both, most vehicles have one or the other. And, most of them that have only a warning light will warn you of a dangerously high engine temperature at the point when it is already too late to avoid damage to the engine.

I visually scan my gauges every few minutes, and I would suggest that Karen do the same. When a warning light or a gauge indicates a problem, you will only know about that problem in time to avoid major problems if you are actually looking at that gauge or light.

Most warning lights with which I am familiar are not bright enough to attract one’s attention during daylight hours, and unless you are consciously checking the instument panel, you would be no more aware of a problem than if you had a gauge instead of a light.

Ultimately, the solution is for Karen to glance at the dashboard instruments every few minutes.