How is the outside temperature measured in a car? (Answered)

If you landed on this page, you are probably wondering what device is being used and how is your car able to measure the outside temperature, that you can see on your dashboard. Another question that comes to people’s minds is regarding the accuracy of this measurement.

While the procedure to measure the outside temperature is nothing complicated, most people haven’t got a clue about how it is done. This article will address the topic and cover any related questions you might have.

Here is how the outside temperature is measured in a car

The outside temperature is measured by a sensor usually located in the front of the car, near the grill. The sensor consists of a thermistor, which is a device that changes resistance with temperature. The resistance of the thermistor increases as the temperature decreases. This change in resistance is used to calculate the temperature.

To get the most accurate reading, car manufacturers experimented with all sorts of locations to avoid engine and road surface heat. In some vehicles, the temperature sensor is located inside the side mirror and even inside the driver’s door.

How accurate is the outside temperature in a car?

The outside temperature in a car is usually accurate to within a few degrees. However, car manufacturers tried various spots for placing the temperature sensor for a more accurate reading. Unfortunately, no matter where the sensor is placed, there are too many variables that can impact your outside temperature reading by a few degrees.

You might have personal experience where your car’s dashboard indicates a couple more degrees than a regular thermometer or your phone’s weather app. The best example is when your car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, or you have been driving in heavy traffic.

But it is important to keep in mind that unless faulty, a temperature sensor will never indicate a lower temperature than the actual.

Is the temperature reading in a car inside or outside?

Several drivers are confused about whether the temperature indicated on their instrument cluster is the outside or inside temperature. It is important to differentiate the location where the temperature is displayed.

The temperature displayed on the instrument cluster is the outside temperature, while the temperature displayed in your climate control area is the inside temperature.

How do car temperature sensors work?

Car temperature sensors work by measuring the resistance of a thermistor. A thermistor is a device that changes resistance with temperature. The resistance of the thermistor increases as the temperature decreases. This change in resistance is used to calculate the temperature.

As discussed already, the sensor is usually located in the front of the car, near the grill, where it can accurately measure the temperature of the air outside the car. However, it is best to check the owner’s manual if you need to locate the temperature sensor on your vehicle.

Do car thermometers measure wind chill?

No, car thermometers do not measure wind chill. The wind chill is the temperature that it feels like when the wind is factored in. The wind chill temperature is lower than the actual air temperature because of the wind. The car thermometer measures the actual air temperature, without factoring in the wind.

Why is my car showing the wrong temperature?

There are multiple reasons for which your car might be displaying the wrong outside temperature. First of all, you need to identify by how much the car misreads the air temperature. If it’s just a couple of degrees, then it is normal and you should not worry.

Depending on the location of the temperature sensor, the temperature your car reads can be affected by engine temperature, road surface temperature, and how long the car has been sitting in the sun.

For example, on a sunny day, the road surface will be a lot hotter than the outside air temperature.

However, if the reading is completely off, then it might be a problem with the temperature sensor. If the sensor is dirty, it might not be able to accurately measure the temperature. If the sensor is damaged, it will need to be replaced.

How do I reset the temperature sensor on my car?

Resetting your temperature sensor is not a difficult task and it is easily doable if you can spare a few hours and have access to some basic tools.

But first, you need to know its location. The temperature sensor is not placed in the same location on all vehicles, therefore it is ideal to check the owner’s manual to find out where it is placed on your vehicle.

The next thing you want to do is to disconnect the car’s negative terminal battery. This is for your own protection, as when working on electric parts of your vehicle, it is important to disable the power source.

Now that it is safe to start working, you can go ahead and remove the sensor from its location. Pay extra care when removing the sensor as you do not want to break any connections.

While at it, ensure you clean the sensor from any debris that might have accumulated during the years.

Then locate and press the reset button, which can usually be found on the side of the temperature sensor.

Now is time to put it back, restore all connections, and don’t forget to reconnect the car’s battery.

If after performing all these steps, your car is still showing false outside temperature readings, you should replace the temperature sensor. Like other electronic parts of your vehicle, it won’t last the lifetime of the car.

Can you drive with a broken temperature sensor?

The temperature sensor is not such an important part of the vehicle, therefore it is safe to keep driving the car after it failed. The only inconvenience is that your car won’t be able to display the real outside temperature.

However, I do recommend replacing it when you get the chance. It is never a good idea to ignore your vehicle’s repairs and maintenance.