What does it mean when my car's temperature gauge is halfway between cold and hot?

I think my temperature gauge is usually all the way to the left, which I think is "cold" (okay). A few weeks ago it went all the way to the right (where it's red), (and that other "water wave-looking light came on) right before steam poured from under the hood of my car and I had to pay $217 to replace some radiator housing or something like that. Now I see that the same light come on (with waves of water) but the gauge is only to the middle and not to the far right (where it's red, and presumably hot). Should I take it in to get some water put in my radiator or what? I live kind of far from a service station which is why I'm a bit hesitant to take it in, especially if the temp is okay if the needle is only in the middle.


It's a 2000 BMW 328i

I didn't see any numbers but I'll look again tomorrow.

15 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    If your car ran hot enough to turn the antifreeze to steam depending on how long you ran or drove it after that it"very possible that it has a blown and or warped cylinder head! If the temp Gauge is climbing above where it has normally registered that's a good indication it is running above normal temp. It could be low of coolent ,it could have a stuck thermostat.the wave-looking light is a low cooling indicator light ie it's bellow normal level.What i recommend is you check the coolent level but only when the motor is completely cool like in the morning befor you leave home .if you check it wile the motor is hot you could get burnt extreamly bad! TO check it just lift the hood and locate the coolent recovery tank usually on the Passenger side above the tire.but it should be clearly marked .Their will be an uper level and lower level or a cold and hot level .you may have to remove the lid to Truly see the level if it is low add water untiles to the lower level then check it the next morning .if it keeps loos coolent it either has a leak or motordamage. you can also look for steam coming from the tailpipe or a miss in the motor booth good indactions of moter damage.

    Source(s): I am autotechantion by trade 25 years exp.and self emploied.
  • rusher
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Temperature Gauge Definition

  • 8 years ago

    If your gauge is in the middle then its ok. Middle is 210f, there should be numbers on the gauge... what is it reading ? Btw never run the car when its on the red line or passed the middle mark, over 220f... overheating which your engine did could cause serious engine damage...

    The light with the waves, could mean your coolant level is low. On my Jeep when coolant is low it will beep and say "Coolant low" on the information center so im unsure what the water wave symbol is. Look in your manual it will tell you.

    What vehicle/year do you have ?

  • Ethel
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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    to me its sounds like the sending unit might be bad in it,and that will cause this to happen,if you couldn't smell it getting hot or it didn't seem hot to you when you came in,id think it has a faulty sending unit or a gage on it,but don't drive it if you think it might be running hot, you run to much of a risk of doing some major damage to the engine,and its not worth it,id have it towed back to the mechanic or another one,at least someone who could repair it,good luck hope this helps.

    • Dave3 years agoReport

      it is not running or smelling hot. water level fine.where would I find sending unit?

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  • 8 years ago

    look in your owners manual and come back with what the 'waves of water' icon description is. Also look in the coolant tank and mention if you have any coolant there. (you can find that in the manual as well)

    have there been any puddles under the car recently?

    sorry for the answers in the form of a question but anyone should have more info to get you the right answer.

  • Irene
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Did you happen to notice if steam or coolant was coming out from under the hood? Look under your car to see if you see any liquid puddled. If you did not see anything, chances are the temperature sensor has malfunctioned. Call your mechanic and explain your concerns and findings. Ask for his recommendation. Good luck.

  • 4 years ago

    I have a 2005 pontiac grand prix. If I keep the air off it will go a little over the middle and now my air conditioning does not work. How do I keep the temperature down with out air conditioning.

  • 3 years ago

    My hot and cold needle lately has been going up and down, but wont go farther than half ways. What does that mean ?? Is that a warning my thermostat is going out ??

  • 8 years ago

    1/2 way is normal (195 - 205 degrees). Never put water in a cooling system (Only as a last resort)

    Source(s): BMW Owner
  • 5 years ago

    BMW thermostat opens at 220 degrees, they get hot at around +280 degrees

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