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Re: tempreture gauge drops to cold and car stops
Sounds like faulty engine temp sensor. When it drops to cold, the engine control unit picks this up and alters the fuel mixture accordingly. The ECU will be making it a very rich fuel mixture for cold starting, hence very poor running when engine is hot.
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it could be you have an air lock in the cooling system
remove the rad cap from the rad, start the engine and let it run until the coolant drops (add to fill it back up) or until the coolant boils out of the rad spout.
maybe pull the heat sensor. -replace it OR clean it off, reinstall it.
Sounds like the thermostat is sticking, on warm up on lot of vehicle the gauge goes past normal and when the thermostat opens drops back. If it is going higher than normal, the thermostat is opening late. Needs changing before it stops opening altogether.
I think you could be right about there being air trapped in the system. Or the heater core(radiator) is plugged. Either way you need a pressurized radiator coolant pump to put the coolant in without air being trapped. Although,i have seen it done by jacking the vehicle up high enough that the radiator was now higher than the heater core level, and then the coolant was put in. But this is dangerous to try.
I had the same problem or more so that my temp would run cold for miles and miles then go to normal and drop. It was my glow plugs. They needed to be changed. My boyfriend changed them himself in 10 minutes after I had been quoted 2 HOURS for labour!!