The temp gauge only goes to the first line from cold when warmed up and at idle. Then when you start driving the temp gauge all the way to back down to cold. I have replaced the thermostat, coolant temp sensor, and has had all new gaskets recently. The heat works well. It also has a little rough idle.
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Does the car have any check engine codes? Usually if the car runs poorly when warmed up, its because the computer tries to put the car into "closed loop mode" when it's up to operating temp but something is wrong. When engine is cold, the ECU uses the coolant temp sensor to adjust fuel mixture, when warm, it switches to O2 sensor and monitors other systems like EGR, etc. In my experience I've seen this be anything from O2 sensor, coolant temp sensor, or EGR valve. Could be a dirty throttle body too, as this is a common issue on the ABA engine.
Hi Justin, A problem with the cylinder head almost always results in overheating, not running below operation temperature. I think you hit the nail on the head with your diagnosis of a defective (or missing) thermostat. Regards John
sounds like low compression at start up do to piston slap and not alowing car to warm up over the years before driving off. 3.1, 3.4, 3.5 motor pistons are exact size at operating temp there for cold temps at start up cause the pistons to slap the cylinder wall.. Gm engineers did this to reduce operating temp while driving by lowering friction in the cylinder. problem is most people these days start there cars and take off down the road..my suggesting would be to check piston compersion at operating temp and see if it meets spefications for ur mottor before replacing any other parts...
Well sounds like first start your car record where the temp needle reads, then let the engine warm up (with out driving) then rev the engine to about 3500-4000rpm a couple times does your needle move at all record then hold your rpm at 3500 for about 5-10 sec does this get the gauge to drop? sounds like you may "if not over heating at all and coolant level and circulation is good" have a circuit problem, you can test this by going to auto zone and ask for a scan to be done on your car when the plug into your OBD 2 ask them to go into DATA STREAM and then check to see what temp your ECM thinks the engine coolant is at does it match your gauge at idle and at 3500rpm if not its a faulty circuit