Temp. Gauge on 2000 Escort

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Hi everyone! I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction.

I have a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2, just over 100,000 miles. The temperature indicator typically rides around the exact middle of the gauge, but last night, it started creeping up to around 3/4 of the way to hot, which concerns me.

It doesn't seem to matter if I'm idle at a light or driving on the freeway, it will randomly go between 3/4 to hot and exactly in the middle, creeping up and down.

I'm INCREDIBLY broke at the moment, but I can't live without my car. Any ideas for easy, cheap ways to determine what could be causing this problem?

posted by  IguanaGrrl

Have you checked your thermostat?

posted by  Newspeak

That was my first thought as well. As the problem just started last night, I haven't yet.

Can auto parts stores check things like that for free?

posted by  IguanaGrrl

Don't jump the gun. If it isn't climbing dangerously high, whether in traffic or driving normally, you're fan is cutting in as it should do. If it's unusual for you car, have the thermostat checked by all means!

posted by  Cliffy

Nah...you don't need to go to any shop. It's simple.

http://www.ehow.com/how_7683_tell-cars-thermostat.html

That little article should help.

posted by  Newspeak

My coolant was fairly low, so I filled it up and drove around for a bit to let it run through. After about 10 minutes of driving around with the heater on (which was working noticeably better, but eventually started conking out again), the car wouldn't stop with the 3/4 hot bit.

I went back to the auto parts store to look into the cost of a thermostat, but decided to wait a day so I can research better how to replace it on my own. Anyone know of a good place for diagrams? :) I know eventually that I'll need to invest in a Haynes or Chiltons manual, I'm just broke enough to where the $20 for one would hurt.

Thanks again for all your help! :)

posted by  IguanaGrrl

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