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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just started driving this Camry with only 102K miles on it. It runs fine, but the temp gauge looks like it is running cool after the engine is hot. The dial is at approx 4 o'clock when it would be at 3 o'clock if it were centered on the dial range. Before I start replacing thermostats and coolant temp sensors, can anyone please tell me if their gauge appears the same and if this is normal?

Gauge Speedometer Measuring instrument Circle Auto part
 

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2001 Camry 5SFE 4 cyl 200+ miles
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If you have access to an obd2 scanner it will tell you the temperature. You can get a cheap-o 20$ off of ebay. I think even autozone sells one that cheap. Then use 'car scanner' app or similar on your phone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you have access to an obd2 scanner it will tell you the temperature. You can get a cheap-o 20$ off of ebay. I think even autozone sells one that cheap. Then use 'car scanner' app or similar on your phone.
I have an OBD2 scanner. What is the normal operating temp, 200 F?
 

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2001 Camry 5SFE 4 cyl 200+ miles
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I know that's normal for the 4 cylinder, no idea about the 6 cylinder. My gauge is always at 3 o'clock. Had overheating issues where it would go in the red, and it would get to 220F or so, at least that's what the app said.

I have no idea why yours is at 4 o'clock. You'll have to wait for someone more experienced.

You might check the coolant levels. That's the most obvious culprit.
 

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Normal is with the needle horizontal. But it’s a good idea to check coolant temperature with an OBD2 reader. The sensor for the gauge could be off. It has its own sensor. The OBD2 reader will show what the ECU sees, and that uses a different sensor.
 

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Artistwifey
99 Camry
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Normal is with the needle horizontal. But it’s a good idea to check coolant temperature with an OBD2 reader. The sensor for the gauge could be off. It has its own sensor. The OBD2 reader will show what the ECU sees, and that uses a different sensor.
So now Mt rpm gauge which is at bottom of 2, not touching could be off even tho it’s been like that for 5 years?? Dang
 

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So now Mt rpm gauge which is at bottom of 2, not touching could be off even tho it’s been like that for 5 years?? Dang
Say what? Pls elaborate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I hooked up my OBD2 scanner and monitored the live Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) when the car reached operating temp. While driving, the temp stayed between 172 and 176 degrees Farenheit. When sitting still at idle, the temp creeped up to 194 F. The dial on the dashboard tracked with these temp changes and was nearly horizontal at 3 o'clock when the temp reached 194 F.

I checked my Haynes repair manual for this model/year. It says (page 3-1) that the thermostat opens from 176 to 183 F, and is fully open at 203 F. In this case, I'm not sure if my car is running too cool or just responding to the thermostat as rated. Thoughts?
 

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1993 Camry SE,V6-5MT
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from your temperature readings and the thermostat settings, it sounds like your car is running just about right
 

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My 1999 V6 looks just like on the highway. Creeps up a bit when idling at a stop sign during the summer. Never crosses horizontal. Always been that way and is perfectly normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you. That's a solid confirmation that it's not over-cooling. Either that, or we both have faulty thermostats that are opening too wide, too soon.
 

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Either that, or we both have faulty thermostats that are opening too wide, too soon.
The V6 has 2 sensors & 2 switches located at different places driving cooling fan speed control and ECM engine and transmission management. Taken together, it's a complex, robust and highly effective system.
 

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I have to disagree. The coolant temperature should be at about 190-200F at all times. Thermostats commonly fail by opening at too low a temperature. I’d replace it, with OEM only, as the aftermarket stats are very hit & miss.
 
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+1 on changing the thermostat w/ OEM.

I will also add an OEM radiator cap too.

Since OP is concerned about coolant temp, do a drain/fill now, or at the next interval his 1998 Camry V6 calls for. BUT add a OEM thermostat and radiator cap. Both items are cheap, and no annoying headaches from cheap aftermarket stuff.
 

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Looks normal. Japanese cars run "cool", meaning they tend to run about 180-195.. Unlike American and European cars that run around 195-210. I had a 98 Honda Accord V6 that on cold rainy days the temp gauge would be lower than that, closer to cold.
 

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Agree that gauge temperature fluctuations are normal. It dips (per OP's picture) going downhill with no load but lots of cool air hitting the radiator. It is highest (horizontal) idling on a hot day with AC running and fans cycling on and off.

My 1999 and 2003 V6 have been this way their entire life. I would hesitate to open a factory sealed cooling system for maintenance when there's no issue other than the gauge reading being a bit low sometimes.

More knowledgeable and experienced forum members can advise what I am missing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was just reading that low operating temperature causes engine sludge. As this lower temp condition seems to be common with Camrys, I wonder if it's related to the well-known sludge problem?
 

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As I understand it, sludge is mainly from not changing oil regularly and/or a blocked PCV system.

To test the PCV system, disconnect the fat PCV breather hose from the front valve cover. With the engine at idle, put your finger on the valve cover opening and you should feel vacuum build in about 5 secs.
 
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