Dear Tom and Ray:
I recently began driving my 2007 Dodge Caliber around with a “carstache” mustache on the grill. Don’t ask me why, but I did. While driving with it on, I’ve noticed that the external temperature gauge reads particularly high, maybe around 20 degrees higher than the actual outside temperature. I have glanced at the engine temperature gauge, and it’s completely fine. I figure the mustache isn’t letting air run over the radiator sufficiently, but if the engine isn’t overheating, I’m guessing it’s not awful. Is this something to be worried about? Thanks. — Nathan
RAY: Nah. I’d worry more about your ability to ever get a date again, Nathan. My brother wanted to put one of those big, pink carstaches on his car, and I told him it would be easier to just get a bumper sticker that says “Dork.”
TOM: But I already have one of those! Actually, I disagree with my brother. These things are just playful, harmless fun. I like ‘em. And they’re a lot more family-friendly than, say, truck … danglers. I’m with you, Nathan. Keep the carstache.
RAY: Actually, I think the pink ones indicate that you’re part of a car-sharing service, in some areas. So don’t use a pink one unless you want strangers to hop in when you stop at red lights.
TOM: What’s happening is that your carstache is blocking the temperature sensor that reads the outside temperature. It sits right in front of the radiator on most cars.
RAY: That’s what’s causing you to get an incorrect reading of the outside temperature on the dashboard. But I doubt it’s having any noticeable effect on airflow through the radiator at all. You can confirm that, if the engine temperature gauge is reading right where it’s always been.
TOM: I mean, you’re right to at least be concerned about whether you’re blocking the radiator. In general, that’s not a good idea. And maybe if you were sporting something thicker, like a Tom Selleck, you could possibly block enough air flow to make the engine run hotter than it should.
RAY: Yeah, so I’d recommend going with more of a John Waters.
TOM: Of even better, maybe just a soul patch that hangs down below the license plate. Have fun, Nathan.
Used cars can be a great bargain, and reliable, too! Find out why by ordering Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “How to Buy a Great Used Car: Secrets Only Your Mechanic Knows.” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Used Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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(c) 2014 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.