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Is It Cold Out?

Q. My problem is not a very big one but one that I like to see functioning properly. It is about my outside temp reading. I had just bought this used car. Whenever I'm driving around and check the outside temp, the reading states -40 Celsius but the outside temp is somewhere between 18 - 23+.

My car:

  • 1996 Ford Taurus LX
  • 3.0 V6 Duratec DOHC
  • Auto
  • 67K km,
  • Fuel inj., with ABS, PS, AC, Cruise, Electronic Climate Control.

Could the sensor be busted?
Where is the sensor anyway?
Would this affect the AUTO function when cooling?
If it is busted, how much would it cost me to replace this?
Can I replace it myself?

Thanks a lot.

A. I would say the chances of having a bad outside temp sensor or a bad connection at the sensor are pretty good. The sensor on this car is located near the radiator on the radiator support. I would look closely at the connector and make sure it's clean and tight. If it is, then I would try a new sensor.

The sensor is not expensive, about $18.00 to $20.00 at a Ford dealer. It easily something you can do your self. Simply unscrew the old one and unplug it. Then plug in the new one, fasten it down and you're done. About 15 minutes at the most.

A malfunctioning sensor will effect the cooling. When the computer is in the AUTO mode, it looks at the outside air temp and decides if the A/C is needed to cool the car. Since it's seeing the outside air temp as -40C, it's going to let in the outside air because it thinks it's cold enough to cool the car without the A/C compressor and save you some fuel.

When you go into MANUAL mode, it will do whatever you tell it to regardless of the outside or inside temp.

The other possibility is the computer itself is bad. That can be an expensive item to replace, costing up to about $1500.00 depending on the model. I'd check the wiring, make sure the connections are clean and tight, then put in a new sensor and I think you'll be all right.

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