While the temperature gauge on your car’s dashboard is a good indicator of the general temperature outside, it isn’t without fault and should be treated as a rough estimate only and not as an accurate reading. We break down why your car’s thermometer is usually wrong below.
Why Your Car’s Thermometer Is Usually Wrong
The temperature reading on your car’s dashboard is actually being set by a thermistor mounted on the exterior of your vehicle, usually under the grille. We won’t get into the scientific differences between a thermistor and a thermometer here, but what drivers should know is the heat radiating up from the surface of the roadways can affect the reading from the thermistor.
Because of the radiating heat from the surface of the roads, especially on a sunny day, the temperature reading on your vehicle’s dashboard is likely a little higher than the actual outside air temperature. Though, cloudy days, rainy weather, or driving on the highway can all help mitigate the effect.
Why does this matter?
For the most part, the small inaccuracies from the thermistor will go unnoticed. However, when driving in winter even small fluctuations in temperature that are hovering around the freezing mark can make a huge difference in road conditions depending on where you live. If you live in an area with freezing weather, remember that the thermistor is not an accurate air temperature reading. Slow down and watch for ice when things are within five to ten degrees of freezing.
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