1997 F150 Temp Sensor

ID Status Date Year Make Model Transmission Type A/C Controls Public/Private
#16123 Closed 1997 Ford F150 public

I have a 1997 F150 4.6 Motor. The temp gauge on the cluster is not working. I have changed out the temp sensor ( temp sending unit) and in is still not picking up anything. I can jump the connection on the sensor with a wire and the temp gauge will peg out hot . What could the issue be? Thanks!


There are several variables for that vehicle.

Could you tell me if it is a 4.6 liter VIN 6 or VIN W?

Also can you supply the part number and brand of part installed?

It is the 4.6 liter Vin W Romeo

The sender I got was from oreilys, It was the Wells 2 terminal sensor part # 5S1513



I used various cross references and it looks like you may be a victim of improper wording. The part you have is a temperature sensor and what you need is a temperature sender for a gauge. I generally use the Standard Motor Products brand for this reason. They are one of the few companies left that actually make that distinction. Also as a rule of thumb, if you are looking for a gauge sender and the parts person or catalog does not ask if you have a gauge or a light you are likely looking at the wrong part.  I would recommend using part number TS380.


Alright I’m a Idiot lol I changed the sender out with the correct one (TS380), however now the gauge automatically reads all the way hot. This is the reason I was changing it out in the first place.


Okay, I need to know the colors of the two wires attached to the sender that you have replaced. There are actually 3 temperature sensors/senders at the front of the engine. A problem with any one of them or their wiring can cause the gauge to read hot when the engine is cold. The reason why is that the PCM has a parallel circuit to the temp sender so that it can peg the gauge if it sees anything wrong with any of the other sensor readings. You will need the use of a voltmeter in order to test the system. A scan tool that reads data would be good to have as well.


The wires are red and yellow with red stripe. I have volt meter ready and I will try to find scan tool


I believe you are testing the correct sender but the red wire should have a white stripe on it. You may have to look further up the wire away from the sender connector to confirm.

Does the check engine light work and does it stay on once the engine is running? If so you definitely need to at least check engine codes.

As I see it this should be the trouble shooting sequence if the check engine light does not stay on with the engine running.

Key off /cold engine = temp gauge reads full cold.

Key on /engine off / cold engine for several minutes = temp gauge reads full cold.

Engine running / cold engine for first couple of minutes = temp gauge reads full cold.

Key off / disconnect temp sender connector and jump the two wires together / key on = temp gauge reads full hot.

*** Compare the installed thread depth of the new sender to the old sender. Overtightening the sender can damage it and cause improper operation.



Yes you are correct red wire does have white stripe and check engine light is not staying on when running.

Key off/cold engine = temp gauge reads full cold

Key on/ cold engine = temp gauge reads full hot

Engine running / cold engine = reads full hot

Engine running disconnect sender = full cold

If you jump the two sides of sender connector if reads full hot


The next step would preferably be to check for codes and look at engine data however a scan tool would be needed to do that. The next best thing would be to take voltage readings at the temp sender wires. The first test would need to be with the harness disconnected and the key on. Use the battery negative terminal for your black test lead. The second test would be a backprobe reading with the harness connected to the sender and the key on. If you do not have a backprobe tool a stick pin can be used in place of it. Just slide the pin into the connector wire cavity until you feel it make contact with the back of the terminal inside the connector.

I also found test specifications for the sender. “At the temperature sender, check resistance across the two terminals. At 70 degrees it should read approximately 37K ohms, at 175 degrees 3.8K, and at 212 degrees 2K ohms.” Using this information you could also substitute a known resistor to take the place of the sender for testing. Electrical/diagnostic shops would use a decade resistance box to do this but you could also look for fixed value resistor at an electronics shop to test with.  

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