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Do You Have a Bad Ambient Temperature Sensor? 3 Signs You Might!

Symptoms Of A Bad Coolant Temp Sensor

Are you struggling to cool the inside of your car off no matter how hard you try? There might be a serious problem with your air conditioning system that you need to address! But there might also be something going on with what’s called your ambient temperature sensor. If you have a bad ambient temperature sensor, it could prevent your car’s AC system from doing its job.

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In the event that your ambient temp. sensor conks out on you, your car is going to get really uncomfortable really fast. You’re going to have no choice but to replace it to get your AC system working like normal again. Continue reading to learn more about what an ambient temperature sensor is, how it works, and which signs you’ll see when it goes bad on you!

What Is an Ambient Temperature Sensor, and How Does It Work?

In order for your car’s AC system to do its job, it needs to keep track of the temperatures both inside and outside of your car. If it doesn’t know what the temp. is either inside or outside of your car, it’s not going to be able to cool your car as effectively as it should. It’s what makes your ambient temperature sensor so important.


Your ambient temperature sensor is a sensor that is designed to keep tabs on the temp. on the outside of your car. It monitors the temperature outside at all times and lets your AC system’s computer know what it is so that it can adjust the heating/cooling inside your car accordingly. It works in tandem with a cabin temp. sensor that monitors the degree of heat inside your car to strike the right balance.


If your ambient temperature sensor goes bad, it’s obviously not going to be able to do its intended job. It’s going to have trouble picking up the temperature outside, and that is often going to lead to your car’s AC system lagging. It’ll start to get warmer inside your car, and before long, you’re inevitably going to be uncomfortable!

What Are the Signs of a Bad Ambient Temperature Sensor?

Is the inside of your car very warm all of a sudden even when you have the AC blasting? Then, boom! That might be all the proof that you need that something might be wrong with your AC system. But that could, of course, also be an indication that something is wrong with your AC compressor or another aspect of your AC system.


Therefore, you shouldn’t rely solely on that sign to tell when your ambient temperature sensor is bad. There are some other signs that you should look out for when it comes to diagnosing issues with your ambient temperature sensor. Check them out below.

1. Your Car’s Auto AC Setting Doesn’t Work

Many of the cars that are out on the road today have something called an auto AC setting in them. This setting helps cars to regulate the temperature inside without you having to do anything. Your AC system will take all the information that it receives from your ambient temp. sensor and your cabin temperature sensor and cool your car off as necessary automatically.


When this part of your car stops working, so will your auto AC system, assuming your car has one. Your AC system’s computer won’t know how hot or cold it is outside because of your ambient temperature sensor, and it’ll result in your auto AC system shutting down.


You may not realize that your auto AC setting has stopped working right away. But eventually, you’re going to notice that it’s warmer in your car than it usually is. At that point, you’re going to want to arrange to have ambient temperature sensor replacement done so that you can get your auto AC system back up and running again.

2. Your Car’s AC System Cools Your Car Inconsistently

When you turn your car’s AC system on yourself and let it run for a few minutes, it should cool off the interior of your car consistently. You should feel the temperature in your car drop once your AC system gets to work. At least, that’s what will happen when you have a fully-functioning ambient temperature sensor in your car.


When your ambient temperature sensor is bad, though, you’re not always going to get consistent cooling from your AC system. Your ambient temp. sensor is going to send out inconsistent signals to your AC system’s computer with regards to what the temperature is outside. And that’s going to lead to your AC system turning on and off more often than it should. It’ll result in inconsistent cooling all around!


If you want to stop this from happening, replacing your ambient temperature sensor is going to be your best bet. It’ll allow your AC system to start cooling the inside of your car off again without any problems. You won’t have to worry about your ambient temperature sensor wreaking havoc on your AC system and stopping it from doing its job consistently.

3. Your Car’s Outside Temperature Gauge Is Incorrect

Your car probably has a temperature gauge somewhere inside of it. It lets you know what the temperature is outside at any given moment. And while that gauge might be wrong after your car sits in the sun for hours on end, it should provide you with the right temperature when you’re driving your car down the street.


If it feels like the temperature gauge in your car that shows the outside temperature is way off all the time, that’s yet another sign that could indicate that you have a bad ambient temperature sensor. You’ll want to replace the sensor so that your temperature gauge starts showing the right temperature again. You’ll also want to do it so that the incorrect reading on your temperature gauge doesn’t affect your AC system’s ability to cool off your car.

Is It OK to Drive With a Bad Ambient Temperature Sensor?

If the ambient temperature sensor has gone bad on you, it shouldn’t stop you from being able to drive around in your car. Your car will work just like it always does, bad ambient temperature sensor and all. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should keep on driving it!


There are a few potential dangers that could come along with driving around in a car with a bad ambient temperature sensor. Here they are:

  • The temperature inside your car is going to go up, which will make it very uncomfortable for you and your fellow passengers
  • The increased temperature in your car could put some people, including kids and seniors, in danger of experiencing serious health issues
  • The high temperatures in your car could do damage to certain aspects of the interior of it over time

Chances are, you’re not going to have to worry about any of these problems presenting themselves to you when you have a bad ambient temperature sensor. But it’s not worth the risk if you can avoid it. You should try to have your ambient temperature sensor replaced right away.

How Much Will a New Ambient Temperature Sensor Cost?

If you ever have a serious issue with your car’s AC system, you might have to pay a pretty penny to fix it. Replacing something like your car’s AC compressor, for example, is going to run you at least a few thousand dollars in most cases!


But the good news for those with a bad ambient temperature sensor is that it’s not going to break the bank. Far from it actually, as a new ambient temperature sensor could cost you under $100 in many cases. Here is a breakdown of what you’re going to have to pay for this sensor's replacement on average:

  • Parts will cost you somewhere between $30 and $35
  • Labor will cost you somewhere between $50 and $70
  • You may have to pay additional taxes and fees, which could bring the cost to replace a bad one of these sensors up over the $100 mark

This is a pretty small price to pay for something that plays such an important role in your car’s AC system. It’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to replace an ambient temperature sensor when it goes bad on you.

How Long Will an Ambient Temperature Sensor Last?

There are dozens and dozens of different sensors located inside of your car. Some of the most well-known sensors in a car include the:

  • Mass airflow sensor
  • Spark knock sensor
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Fuel temperature sensor
  • Coolant sensor
  • Engine speed sensor
  • And, of course, the ambient temperature sensor

And what do all of these sensors have in common? Outside of the fact that they’re all used to “sense” what’s going on in and around your car, it’s also very difficult to tell when they’re going to give out on you. Most of them will randomly die without much warning, but there’s no telling when it’ll happen.


That being said, it’s pretty much impossible to predict when this part is going to go bad and stop working. But more often than not, you’ll be able to get well over 100,000 miles out of an ambient temperature sensor and, in many cases, you’ll get upwards of 150,000 miles out of them.


The only time when you might have to replace them sooner than that is if you’re ever involved in a front-end collision. This could result in damage being done to this particular part. And when that happens, you’ll have no choice but to remove your old ambient temperature sensor and put a new one in its place.

Is It Difficult to Replace an Ambient Temperature Sensor?

Replacing an ambient temperature sensor that has gone bad isn’t that difficult to do at all. It’s a big part of the reason why it’s so inexpensive to replace an ambient temperature sensor when it’s not working anymore. You should, however, make sure that an ASE-certified mechanic replaces this part for you so that it gets done right.


Take a look at the steps that a mechanic will take when replacing a bad ambient temperature sensor below:

  1. They’ll start by inspecting your AC system to make sure that it’s your ambient temperature sensor causing problems and not some other AC component
  2. If it is this sensor that’s the problem, they’ll then disconnect your battery
  3. They’ll locate the part and remove the clips holding it in place
  4. They’ll disconnect your sensor from its harness
  5. They’ll connect the new part and secure it
  6. They’ll reconnect your battery and test your new temperature sensor to make sure it’s doing its job

As long as everything goes according to plan, it shouldn’t take a mechanic more than a few minutes to do ambient temperature sensor replacement. It’ll get your ambient temperature sensor working like usual again and ensure that it’s able to communicate with your AC system’s computer.

Want to Sell a Car With a Bad Ambient Temperature Sensor? No Problem!

Did you just find out that you have a bad temperature sensor in your car? As we’ve explained, it’s not going to be that difficult or expensive to replace it. But it might also be the last straw after a series of other car problems, and it could make you want to sell your car once and for all.


If this is the case, Cash Cars Buyer would love to make you an offer for your car, in spite of the bad sensor that’s in it. Just follow these steps and we’ll buy your car from you for top dollar:

  1. Tell us what kind of car you have, how old it is, and how many miles are on it
  2. We’ll send you an offer for your car soon after receiving the information about it
  3. You’ll have an opportunity to accept or reject our offer on the spot
  4. If you accept on our offer, we’ll send someone out to pick up your car and to provide you with the cash we promised!

Selling a car with a bad sensor could not be any easier. Contact us today to get more info on obtaining an offer for your car from us.

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