Mechanics

PLEASE HELP!!! WHY DOES MY TEMP GAUGE JUMP TO HOT WHILE DRIVING BUT NORMAL WHEN IDLING???

1998 Dodge Neon • 150,000 miles

OK, so I've been browsing forums in hopes I could find someone else having the sameproblem. Well finally I did! Thank god I'm not the only one, cause this is literally driving me nuts. I've had this 1998 Dodge Neon R/T now for about 3 months and haven't had a problem besides changing the rear brakes and rotors, plugs and wires and an alternator. Runs pretty decent up until about a week ago just about.

It all started when I was heading back home from my parents (10 miles)! The car was fine until I got on the highway and I noticed that after a few minutes of doing about 70 MPH the temp gauge started to rise a little, hesitated, then JUMPED up to the HOT mark (not all the way, just enough to sound the alarm) so I hurried up and pulled over freaking out. Stopped on the side of the highway a little confused at the time (given I live in Indiana and the temp was about 30 degrees AND my fan is wired with toggle switch by previous owner) so with my fan RUNNING and me going 70 MPH on the highway, I couldn't understand for the life of me why this car was saying it was overheating. Stopped it went back to its normal spot (Temp Gauge) so I figured, OK, maybe my cluster is just messed up. Start driving again and it waits about a min or so then gauge rises up fast and sounds the alarm until I depress the clutch while moving and the gauge will go down slightly until I reengage the tranny. I made it home with the car after stopping a few times and cruising pretty much in neutral until I needed to actually DRIVE. I checked everything and seemed fine. Full of coolant, no boiling or gurgling or anything. Engine felt normal temp it should be. The next day, I go to advance auto and tell them my problem. I end up buying a thermostat and the coolant temp sensor (which also controls the gauge in cluster) had to argue with the guy about it, but after doing that (replacing thermo and temp sensor) it was STILL doing the same stuff. I ended up going to that damn parts store about 6 times that day. Finally, on the last visit they go on to all agree that my cluster is going out and causing the temo gauge to whack out! I kinda possibly believed it could be the problem giving that the cluster itself was replaced when I got it cause the speed wasn't working. And every now and then, if I hit a bump the whole cluster would shut off until I smacked it then come back. Or there would be times when the air bag light would come on and shut off like when you first start the car. And lastly, sometimes when making turns my OIL light will come on and then shut off!

Well needless to say, I went to the junkyard the next day and got another cluster. Everything worked fine, until I drove about 5 mins and there goes my temo gauge JUMPING up to HOT and sounding the alarm until I stop. So at that point I'm thinking it definately cannot be this cluster too! Took it back to the house (also the oil light thing happens with thus one too sometimes on turns, confusing) and checked my fkuid and everything again still don't understand. I went back to parts store and they asked me about my radiator cap which isn't actually on the radiator but over the thermostat housing. The cap did end up being very poorly sealed. It was cracked around the rubber and whatnot so I replace the cap. The guy precedes to tell me that it sounds like air got into the system and that itnshoukd work its way out in about a day or so. NOPE! I even ran it for like 15 mins with the cap off from cold start and watched the fluid rise up after warming and overflowed little bit to try and get the air out. Still overheating while driving and my heat is hot just like it always has been. The only thing I can think of is maybe I POSSIBLY didn't align the thermostat right when putting the new one in. But I looked at the old one first before anything to make sure it was right. Also, the bottom radiator hose is not hot at all not even warm when the car is at normal temp. So there is a circulation problem, but I don't understand if if it could be the Radiator or that bottom hose or even possibly the water pump. Like I said, my heat comes out great like always, but that bottom hose not being warm and the top one being hot as hell, tells me there is a circulation problem.

If anyone can help PLEASE. Just need some actual expert advice or a shove in the right direction. Thanks

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Bluesmoke662
December 15, 2011.



Disconnect yoru fans whenit gets hot and feel radiator. If there are any cold spots the rad I sbad. It shoudl feel the same temp all over. Also you migh thave them check thetempof the upper hose when you stop with one of those temp gauges that read temps by pointing at it. It may be an electrical issue and not what you think itis.

Hmac300
Dec 15, 2011.