How To Reset Outside Temperature Sensor In The Car? (Solved)

One of the things that can be useful when it comes to your car is the outside temperature sensor.

That’s because it measures the ambient temperature outside so that you will have a good idea of how hot or cold the outside is while you are driving.

However, there are some cases where this sensor can end up faulty especially in terms of the temperature readings it gives off.

How do you reset the outside temperature sensor in your car?

You can reset the outside temperature in the car by pushing the AC button and the recirculate button both at the same time. However, this can depend on your car, and that’s why you should consult the manual first. Some cars may require you to remove the sensor and then manually press the reset button.

Car AC controls

One of the reasons why you should be resetting your outside temperature sensor is that there are some instances where the sensor can get the ambient temperature wrong.

Now, this can be quite common because of how the temperature reading on the thermometer can be wrong from time to time, and that’s why you might need to reset the outside temperature so that the thermometer can get the reading right.

Why is my car reading the wrong outside temperature?

There are plenty of different instruments that you can find in your car. One such instrument that isn’t normally as important as the other instruments but is still very much useful in a lot of different situations is the thermometer, which is capable of reading the car’s outside temperature by using the ambient temperature sensor.

In that regard, this sensor is useful if you want to know the temperature outside your car. Now, while this isn’t normally important whenever you are driving, this still gives you a good idea of what to expect when you get out of your car because you need to be able to prepare yourself for the weather depending on the temperature reading on the car’s thermometer.

Now, one of the things you may have noticed in your car is that the reading on the thermometer really isn’t always the same as the actual temperature outside your car.

You may have noticed that the car’s outside temperature reading is, for example, at 90 degrees. But, when you got out of the car, you realized that it’s actually only about 80 degrees outside.

So, in that regard, why is it that the car can read the outside temperature wrong? Is the outside temperature sensor of your car inaccurate?

For starters, the car’s outside temperature sensor is not inaccurate. It is actually pretty accurate if we are strictly talking about how well it does its job as this is a sensor that is pretty much effective at reading temperatures. 

However, the thing you need to know is that the outside temperature sensor is not a thermometer but is actually a thermistor, which is pretty much different from a thermometer in terms of how it reads the outside temperature.

In that regard, because the outside temperature sensor is not a thermometer but is actually a thermistor, what it reads is not the temperature of the outside air. Instead, what the thermistor reads is the temperature of the road, and here is a great article on why car thermometers are not accurate.

So, if the thermistor reads the temperature of the road, how does that relate to how the car’s outside temperature sensor can be wrong from time to time?

Well, for starters, you should know that the road can be hotter than the outside temperature. Imagine the asphalt getting exposed to the hot sun all day. As such, the fact that the road is exposed to the sun means that the road can be hotter than the ambient air because, basically, solid molecules conduct heat better than the air.

With that said, the car’s outside temperature sensor is actually reading the temperature of a surface that is probably a lot hotter than the temperature of the air. This means that you will end up with an outside temperature reading that is a lot higher than the actual ambient temperature of the air when you get out of your car.

However, this is usually only true whenever the day is hot because of how asphalt tends to be a lot hotter during warmer days such as when it’s summer or when you are driving somewhere that’s sunny and with warmer climates.

Meanwhile, the thermistor is less likely to be wrong in terms of its temperature readings during climates that are cloudier and a bit colder.

As such, whenever it’s spring or fall, you might notice that the difference between the ambient temperature and the temperature reading on your outside temperature sensor won’t be too different from one another.

On the other hand, winter tends to be a different story altogether as your outside temperature sensor is more likely to give off wrong readings. That’s because thermistors are not capable of sensing the temperature of an icy road.

So, if the temperatures are freezing, your outside temperature sensor might not be able to properly read the temperature of the road.

Where is the outside temperature sensor on my car?

In relation to the fact that the outside temperature sensor is not a thermometer but is actually a thermistor, what you need to know is that the location of the sensor also plays a role in the temperature reading. But where is the outside temperature sensor located?

Your outside temperature sensor is located just in front of the radiator or the engine bay. The reason why this is the case is that the sensor should be located far from the engine, which produces a ton of heat.

So, by keeping the outside temperature sensor far from the engine, it is less likely to read the heat of the engine whenever it is reading the ambient temperature.

Also, the fact that the outside temperature sensor is located just in front of the radiator also allows it to read the temperature of the road more accurately.

But this is also the reason why it can be wrong in terms of its temperature reading because it only reads the temperature of the hot asphalt that you are driving on.

How to reset the outside temperature sensor in the car?

Now, if you do notice that the outside temperature sensor is making more mistakes than it usually does in the sense that the discrepancies between its reading and the actual outside temperature tend to be too great or sometimes very erratic.

In that case, one of the best things that you can do is to reset the outside temperature sensor in your car because this may be enough to recalibrate the outside temperature sensor and allow it to work the way it is supposed to.

But how do you actually reset the outside temperature sensor in your car?

Now, the way you reset the outside temperature sensor can depend on the car that you have. In most cases, what you need is to consult your car’s manual so that you can know how to properly reset the outside temperature sensor.

However, in cases where you can’t consult your owner’s manual, there is a way for you to reset the outside temperature sensor in a manner that may be applicable to most cars. What you need to do is simply push the car’s AC button all while pushing the recirculate button at the same time. This may be enough to reset the car’s outside temperature sensor.

Meanwhile, there are cases where you won’t be able to use the abovementioned method of resetting the car’s outside temperature sensor. In such a case, you may need to manually reset the sensor.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Locate the sensor, which should be located in front of the radiator of your car. 
  2. From there, detach the car’s battery because you want to keep yourself safe from any possible electrical problems that may happen. Detaching the power source is an important safety factor in case you end up making mistakes while you are resetting the car’s outside temperature sensor.
  3. After you have already detached the car’s battery, what you need to do is to remove the sensor. Detaching the battery will allow you to safely remove the sensor without shocking yourself in case you do make a mistake. There should be plastic clips that attach the sensor to the terminal and wiring. Make sure that you gently remove the wiring from the sensor so that you don’t risk damaging the sensor or the wires.
  4. From there, all you need to do is to find the manual reset button found on your outside temperature sensor. It is also a good idea to clean the sensor because the extra dirt on it might be the reason why it isn’t as accurate as it is supposed to be.
  5. Retrace your steps so that you can put the sensor back to its location.

However, if this method does not work and your sensor is still making mistakes in its reading, then you might want to replace the sensor instead. Now, replacing it only requires that you buy a new sensor. After that, you use the abovementioned steps but, instead of resetting the sensor and putting it back in place, you replace it with a new sensor.

Sources

Car From Japan: How to replace or reset ambient temperature sensor

Find any answers: How to reset my ambient temperature sensor

How.co: How to reset outside temperature gauge in car