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Old 01-06-2010, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default Coolant temp sensor - wiring issue?

We replaced my coolant temp sensor which used a 2-wire style pigtail with the new 3-wire style. Up until we replaced the original, it functioned fine. We wired it up so that both the gauge and computer read from the same sensor. Yet, my gauge will show I'm overheating, while the code reader shows I am not. How can the gauge and computer get different readings if they utilize the same sensor? I know the car is not actually overheating.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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You are assuming that the PCM and gauge are driven by the same voltage, but I'm pretty sure they aren't. What is a 3-wire sensor?

Why did you remove the other sensor on the head?
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:41 PM   #3
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We found the sensor on the head was *glued* together and had to replace it. I meant it uses a three-wire pigtail rather than two.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:42 PM   #4
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Why not just replace the bad sensor? They're pretty cheap.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:43 PM   #5
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The sensor is new. What's confusing is that the sensor reads correctly through the computer but not my coolant temp gauge.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:49 PM   #6
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You removed the coolant temperature sensor in the head and plugged it, and connected the wiring to the temperature sensor in the water pump, is that correct? My question is why don't you just hook up the factory wiring with factory sensors? I'm not seeing a reason for what you're doing.

The reason the gauge is wrong is because the gauge is not driven with the same voltage as the PCM (output from the water pump). That's why they are different (1 and 2-wire). Maybe you already know this, but the gauge and the PCM are not driven off of the same signal, hence the two sensors from the factory.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Hm, well the idea was that a reading on the coolant coming out of the block before it goes into the radiator would be more accurate. That's why we did it that way. From what you're saying though, that one sensor can not work for both the computer and gauge then?

So does that make sense it shows I'm overheating then? Too much voltage = needle raising higher than it should?
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 96blackta View Post
Hm, well the idea was that a reading on the coolant coming out of the block before it goes into the radiator would be more accurate. That's why we did it that way. From what you're saying though, that one sensor can not work for both the computer and gauge then?
Nope, it can't. Not to mention I'd be leery about bifurcating the duties of the stock sensor on the water pump because the PCM uses it for timing and closed loop operation. It's finicky.

"More accurate" is relative to what you 'think' the temperature should be. Keep in mind that reading the temperature from the cylinder head (the hottest part of the coolant path) means that every other area will be cooler all the time. So whenever you look at the gauge and it reads 200, just know that the rest of the cooling system is, well, cooler.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:43 PM   #9
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Good info, thanks man.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:27 PM   #10
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Found this info, which someone may find usefull:

Several people with LT1/LT4 powered vehicles have noticed that the temperature gauge reading seems to fluctuate greatly, depending primarily on whether the vehicle is moving or not. It has also been noticed that the PCM indicated engine temperature does not always agree with what the gauge shows, leading many to believe that their instrument cluster temperature gauge is inaccurate or faulty. I can assure you that in most cases the temperature indicated by the gauge is absolutely and totally accurate, for the POSITION on the engine at which the gauge sending unit is MOUNTED!!!

To understand this, first note that there are two temperature sending units on the LT1/LT4, one for the gauge and one for the PCM. The one for the gauge is mounted in the side of one of the cylinder heads, while the PCM sending unit is mounted on the front of the engine directly in the water pump. B/D-cars (Impala, Caprice, Roadmaster, Fleetwood) and Y-cars (Corvette) have the gauge sender installed in a tapped hole in the rear of the RH cylinder head, between the #6 and #8 spark plugs. F-cars (Camaro, Firebird) have the gauge sending unit mounted in a tapped hole in the front of the LH cylinder head, between the #1 and #3 spark plugs.

Now remember that this engine is reverse flow cooled. This means that cold engine coolant entering the engine from the radiator is directed to the heads first, which is exactly why the gauge sending unit reads low compared to what the PCM sending unit sees. The PCM sending unit sees actual engine coolant temperature, and is not hit by the flow of cold coolant directly from the radiator.

If there is a problem with the gauge at all, it is certainly NOT that it is inaccurate. The gauge is perfectly accurate, but the SENDING UNIT for the gauge is mounted in the WRONG PLACE to get a "correct" reading. Unfortunately there are no other tapped holes in the water jacket to mount it unless you drill and tap another location. There is a tapped and plugged hole in the opposite cylinder head, but that would offer the same gauge readings, in fact it might read even lower temperatures since the tapped hole in the LH head it is mounted more towards the front of the block, closer to where the coolant first enters the heads from the radiator.

I have verified with scan tools which can directly read the PCM indicated temperature, as well as a digital Cyberdyne gauge sending unit mounted in the stock gauge sending unit location, that the two stock temperature sending units (gauge and PCM) will read temperatures as much as 60 degrees different while moving at high speeds on a cool night. If you stop and let the car idle long enough, eventually the radiator coolant temperature in the head equals what the actual coolant temperature in the block is, and both readings are relatively the same. As soon as you start moving, the temperature read at the gauge sending unit in the head will drop rapidly, however the actual engine temperature, and that which is sensed by the PCM sending unit, remains about 10 degrees above the thermostat setting.

Note that you cannot run both the gauge and the PCM off of the same sending unit. The gauge sender is a simple one wire sender where the body is grounded to the engine block. I believe it runs on 12v through the gauge and sender to ground. The PCM sender is a two-wire sender with a 5v signal and a digital PCM ground (not chassis ground). The gauge cannot be run off of this sender without messing it or the PCM up.

In any case, this anomaly CAN be corrected, in fact I have known about this "problem" for several years now, and have intended to correct it all along. Now I will finally be getting around to it due to my upcoming LT4 engine installation.

The proper way to correct this temperature reading anomaly is to mount the gauge sending unit in the water pump housing, in the same water passage as the PCM sender is now. There are two ways to correct the problem. One would be to drill and tap a hole in one of the existing unused sending unit bosses in the water pump to mount the gauge sending unit in the same water passage as the PCM sending unit is located. With the gauge sending unit in the water pump, instead of in the LH cylinder head, the gauge will now read correctly in concert with the actual engine temperature, which is also the temperature the PCM sees. This method requires that a proper sized hole be drilled, tapped, and then the gauge sender can be installed. Then the existing sender wire must be lengthened and re-routed over to the new location.

A more elegant method of correcting this problem would be to simply replace the existing PCM sender with a new dual purpose sender that GM has recently been offering on other applications. This is a new GM 3-wire sending unit which includes both the PCM and Gauge senders in one unit, and which installs in the existing PCM sensor location.

GM has begun using a 3-wire dual purpose sender on some new engines. It combines both the PCM and gauge senders in one unit. This is ideal as no additional holes will have to be drilled or tapped, this new dual purpose sender can replace the existing PCM sender.

Here's the information on the 3 terminal coolant temperature sensor.

Part No Description Cost
10096181 PCM/Gauge sending unit $14.81
12102748 Connector pigtail (incl. terminals) $17.29

This connector pigtail is a complete connector with terminals and wires installed, which would have to be spliced to the existing wires. Alternatively, you can get just the connector shell and terminals, which you could crimp onto the existing wires. Unfortunately most dealers are not able to get Packard electric parts through GM.

Part No Description
12078090 Packard connector including the seals
12103881 Terminals (three required



Another alternative would be to get the connector and terminals plus wire from a junkyard. It's the same connector that is used on the throttle position sensor of the LT1 and many other engines.

The new sending unit is wired as follows:

Pin A = Black, PCM sensor ground
Pin B = Yellow, coolant signal to PCM
Pin C = Dark Green, to Gauge
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:28 PM   #11
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btw, we tried 3 different new 'stock replacement" sensors. couldnt get the stock 1 wire setup to work right at all.

koeo, koer, it does matter. the gauge will peg in around 60 seconds.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:35 PM   #12
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Note that you cannot run both the gauge and the PCM off of the same sending unit. The gauge sender is a simple one wire sender where the body is grounded to the engine block. I believe it runs on 12v through the gauge and sender to ground. The PCM sender is a two-wire sender with a 5v signal and a digital PCM ground (not chassis ground). The gauge cannot be run off of this sender without messing it or the PCM up.

This verifies my earlier post, so that's your problem 96blackta!
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmracer View Post
A more elegant method of correcting this problem would be to simply replace the existing PCM sender with a new dual purpose sender that GM has recently been offering on other applications. This is a new GM 3-wire sending unit which includes both the PCM and Gauge senders in one unit, and which installs in the existing PCM sensor location.

GM has begun using a 3-wire dual purpose sender on some new engines. It combines both the PCM and gauge senders in one unit. This is ideal as no additional holes will have to be drilled or tapped, this new dual purpose sender can replace the existing PCM sender.
Hm, that's how we did it. With the 3-wire dual purpose sender. What we are trying to figure out is why the gauge just pegs out.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:24 PM   #14
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Anyone have an idea why the temp gauge pegs out?
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamAir95TA View Post
Note that you cannot run both the gauge and the PCM off of the same sending unit. The gauge sender is a simple one wire sender where the body is grounded to the engine block. I believe it runs on 12v through the gauge and sender to ground. The PCM sender is a two-wire sender with a 5v signal and a digital PCM ground (not chassis ground). The gauge cannot be run off of this sender without messing it or the PCM up.

This verifies my earlier post, so that's your problem 96blackta!
The proper way to correct this temperature reading anomaly is to mount the gauge sending unit in the water pump housing, in the same water passage as the PCM sender is now. There are two ways to correct the problem. One would be to drill and tap a hole in one of the existing unused sending unit bosses in the water pump to mount the gauge sending unit in the same water passage as the PCM sending unit is located. With the gauge sending unit in the water pump, instead of in the LH cylinder head, the gauge will now read correctly in concert with the actual engine temperature, which is also the temperature the PCM sees. This method requires that a proper sized hole be drilled, tapped, and then the gauge sender can be installed. Then the existing sender wire must be lengthened and re-routed over to the new location.

A more elegant method of correcting this problem would be to simply replace the existing PCM sender with a new dual purpose sender that GM has recently been offering on other applications. This is a new GM 3-wire sending unit which includes both the PCM and Gauge senders in one unit, and which installs in the existing PCM sensor location.


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Old 01-22-2010, 08:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmracer View Post
The proper way to correct this temperature reading anomaly is to mount the gauge sending unit in the water pump housing, in the same water passage as the PCM sender is now. There are two ways to correct the problem. One would be to drill and tap a hole in one of the existing unused sending unit bosses in the water pump to mount the gauge sending unit in the same water passage as the PCM sending unit is located. With the gauge sending unit in the water pump, instead of in the LH cylinder head, the gauge will now read correctly in concert with the actual engine temperature, which is also the temperature the PCM sees. This method requires that a proper sized hole be drilled, tapped, and then the gauge sender can be installed. Then the existing sender wire must be lengthened and re-routed over to the new location.

A more elegant method of correcting this problem would be to simply replace the existing PCM sender with a new dual purpose sender that GM has recently been offering on other applications. This is a new GM 3-wire sending unit which includes both the PCM and Gauge senders in one unit, and which installs in the existing PCM sensor location.


Read 2 posts up. The OP is using the dual-purpose sender and is still having the same problem. I was under the impression earlier he was trying to run the gauge off of the PCM sensor.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:02 PM   #17
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yea. too much teflon tape would cause the temp sender to not ground, PCM would read just fine and the temp sensor wouldnt. simple fix!
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:26 PM   #18
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I just replace the sending unit on my LT1 from a 2 wire to a 3 wires and everything is working perfectly.
I have my aftermarket temp. gauge hooked up to the sending unit on the left head and I have the PCM reading the temperature on one of the wire on the new 3 wire sensor + I have the factory gauge hooked up to the other wire from the new 3 wire sending unit.

So now I can have my Aftermarket et OEM temp. gauge working at the same time.




Click the image to open in full size.






Click the image to open in full size.




Click the image to open in full size.



Works very good .


I know this doesn't fix your gauge issue but......
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Old 02-04-2010, 03:54 PM   #19
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I am interested in this set up.Where did you get the parts?Are those the part numbers on the boxes?
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:01 PM   #20
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I am interested in this set up.Where did you get the parts?Are those the part numbers on the boxes?
Part number on the box are the right one.

Any auto parts should carry them.
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:01 PM
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