Hi srt8man. Welcome to the forum. There can be a wide variation in gauges, sending units, and thermostats. I have two identical Grand Caravans with the same size engine. One reads lower than quarter scale but goes up to almost half scale when pulling an enclosed trailer that's bigger than the van. The other one reads about 2/3 scale all the time. The heaters on both will roast your hand if you hold it there long enough.
What's important is the actual coolant temperature. If you start with a cool engine, you can leave the radiator cap off and pop in a small thermometer and watch it as the engine warms up. If it never gets close to around 190 degrees, and / or you already see coolant circulating, the thermostat should be changed. An engine that's running too cool will not get its normal fuel mileage. If you do find the coolant is up to at least close to 190 degrees, you can try a different sending unit for the gauge but they normally give very little trouble.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 AT 7:01 PM