The national cost for a coolant temperature sensor replacement in 2023 is between $96 and $306 with an average of $188​

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National average cost of a a Coolant Temperature Sensor Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost


What is a coolant temperature sensor and how does it work?

The coolant temperature sensor is a component of the engine cooling system. Mounted inside your engine, the device relies on electrical resistance to measure engine temperatures.

Your engine produces a good deal of heat as a byproduct of combustion. Some of that heat is necessary for proper engine function. But too much heat can cause damage. Therefore, liquid coolant (also known as “antifreeze”) is circulated through the engine where it absorbs some of the heat. The coolant flows from the engine to the radiator, where heat dissipates into the atmosphere before traveling back to the engine to pick up more heat.

In order for the cooling system to do its job properly (and for your engine to work as it should), it is essential that the temperature of your engine be monitored constantly. That is the responsibility of the coolant temperature sensor. Mounted inside the engine, the device uses electrical resistance to measure the temperature of the coolant. The information is sent to the engine control module (the ECM) so that the computer can make adjustments to things like engine timing and fuel injector function. The sensor also informs the temperature gauge or engine temperature light on the dashboard.


How do I know if my engine needs a new coolant temperature sensor?

If the coolant temperature sensor fails in your engine, it will provide inaccurate information to the ECM, the computer that controls engine function. This can cause the engine to consume excess fuel and lead to a drop in fuel efficiency. You might see black and sooty smoke coming from the tailpipe when you accelerate as a result of a rich air/fuel mixture. A bad temperature sensor can also cause the check engine light to come on. A diagnostic scan, in that case, would likely reveal a trouble code related to exhaust and emission problems, fuel delivery faults, or failure of the cooling system. If the coolant temperature sensor is leaking coolant from the engine, overheating might also occur.

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How is a a Coolant Temperature Sensor Replacement done?

To replace a coolant temperature sensor, a technician must first allow your engine to cool considerably to prevent serious injury from scalding hot coolant. Once the engine has cooled for about a half an hour, the technician will relieve pressure in the cooling system. Some of the coolant must typically be drained from the system before the sensor is removed. The coolant temperature sensor is generally located in one of three places - in or near the thermostat housing, in the cylinder head, or in the intake manifold. Once the has been located, its electrical connector is detached. The sensor must then be either unscrewed from its mounting flange or unfastened by removing a retaining clip. Once the old sensor has been extracted from its mount, the area is cleaned of any debris or leaked coolant. The new sensor is installed with thread sealer and torqued to specifications (or seated with a fresh o-ring and clip). The sensor wire is reattached and the coolant is topped off. The cooling system will have to be bled of air, or “burped”, before your vehicle can be placed back into service.

Other questions customers ask

Does the coolant temperature sensor control the fan?
The cooling fans in most modern vehicles are controlled by the engine control module (ECM). The ECM gets its cues from the coolant temperature sensor. If the sensor is faulty, the ECM will not power up the fans when they are needed. Engine overheating and other problems can be the result.
What makes a coolant temperature sensor go bad?
It is possible that a coolant temperature sensor might go bad on its own because of faulty manufacturing. However, most temperature sensors fail because of poor cooling system maintenance. If you do not replace your engine coolant regularly, the anti-corrosion capability of the coolant drops. Corrosion is a common culprit in the shortened lifespan of a coolant temperature sensor.
Can you replace a coolant temperature sensor without draining coolant?
While it is usually not necessary to drain the entire cooling system in order to replace the temperature sensor, it is necessary to remove some of the coolant. But only enough to allow the coolant level to drop below the level of the sensor. Once the sensor has been replaced and the coolant has been topped off, It is also important that the system be bled of any trapped air.

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