Why the temperature reading in your vehicle might be wrong

Published: May. 15, 2017 at 3:12 PM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2017 at 7:50 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(KSLA) - Even though temperatures have not officially hit 90 degrees yet this year in the ArkLaTex, many vehicle thermometers are showing triple digits.

That's because most vehicles are equipped with a thermistor, a temperature sensor that is incapable of accounting for environmental factors.

Factors that can drastically change the reading include heat generated by the vehicle's engine or re-radiating from dark surfaces like asphalt.

Such factors likely were what pushed Brooke Palmer's temperature gauge over the 100-degree mark Sunday in Many, even though the high in Shreveport was 84 degrees.

"You don't want any type of asphalt or concrete within 100 feet of [the] temperature sensor," said Michael Berry, senior meteorologist at the Weather Service office in Shreveport.

Also, he added, the sensor should be about 5 feet above the ground.

"You don't want the temperature sensor to be too low to the ground because you start having problems with ground warmth.

"You don't want the temperature gauge too high because of the natural cooling processes in the atmosphere."

The Weather Service also covers its temperature sensors with solar shields so direct sunlight does not impact readings.

So while it is good to have a reminder that it's hot outside, keep in mind that your vehicle thermometer can't accurately reflect the true temperature.

By the way, here's when you can expect us to hit our first 90-degree day this summer.

Copyright 2017 KSLA. All rights reserved.