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I have a 2008 Mazda 3, and unfortunately I ran over some road debris (probably a tire or something, I didn't get a good look at it). My local Mazda dealer checked it out and said there was nothing wrong besides some broken plastic bits.

However, when I was inspecting my front grill, I noticed this electrical cable with two end pieces lying loose just in front of my radiator. I'm curious 1) what this component is, and 2) should it be attached somewhere? It seems odd for it to just be lying there.

Specifically, this cable is on the driver's side, just in front of the radiator and behind the lower front grill. Here's a picture of the component in question:

Unknown electrical component

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

After much Googling and trying to interpret vague descriptions on internet forums, I have discovered that this is apparently the ambient temperature sensor, used to display the outside temperature on the center console.

It is normally mounted in front of the radiator, in the center-ish of the front grill with a plastic clip. Unless someone has some information to the contrary, I don't think it's particularly bad for it to be lying there instead of being properly mounted.

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Sounds a bit like the ambient temperature sensor on old e30 BMWs, that was in an exposed position and would easily be knocked off - the only ill effect being that the car would 'ping' a warning every time you started the engine as it thought it was -37 degrees C outside... –  Nick C Jun 26 '13 at 9:10
    
In my case, the sensor still seems to work despite having been broken off its mount - my center console still reports the correct ambient temperature, +/- 10F (which is about as accurate as its ever been). –  CmdrMoozy Jun 26 '13 at 16:10
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@NickC, that's a really funny image in my head. Car: "bong bong Did you notice that it's really cold outside?! bong bong" –  Bob Cross Jun 26 '13 at 16:48

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