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I have an 03 Passat with 1.8t engine I recently purchased. The indicator light went off and reads the error code P2181 which I've read might be the temp sensor, thermostat, or water pump.

Is it safe for me to drive 30 miles to work as long as I keep an eye on the temperature gauge? Can I trust the temperature gauge to tell me if it's overheating.

I'd rather take care of it after work rather than losing pay.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I wouldn't risk it. If the water pump fails you can easily cook the engine, leading to no end of problems (failed head gasket, warped head, etc). The temperature gauge will only give you an accurate reading if the coolant is flowing through the engine - if it isn't you will end up with hot spots very quickly.

A lot of modern cars have an ecu-controlled temperature gauge as well, which means it tells you what the ecu wants you to see, not an accurate reading of the temperature (often characterised by the gauge constantly pointing to the same point in normal driving rather than fluctuating slightly with driving conditions)

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Thanks for the advice. always better to err on the side of caution. Taking the bus to work today. –  dardub Mar 19 '12 at 16:00
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