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My 2013 Honda Fit has been for the past few weeks or so invariably showing me the cold engine light (a blue thermometer with the letter C) when I start it up before or after work (or most other times). I looked in the manual to see what exactly this means, but all it says is something like "the engine is cold" without any more information as to what I should do about it. It turns itself off after a couple minutes of driving.

I presume this information is relevant to something, or else they wouldn't have bothered to make a light for it, but I haven't been able to figure out what.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Engines run safely and effectively in a temperature range which is actually fairly narrow. The temperature gauge (or cold and hot indicator lights) typically measure the temperature of the engine coolant itself.

When the car is first started, the engine is cold, and oil will need time to heat up and achieve good flow for lubrication. Until that temperature is reached, the engine is more susceptible to damage at high revs or under load.

Guidance is to drive relatively gently until the low temp light goes out. In a highly tuned car, with tighter tolerances, this is even more important. So treat it as a gentle warning.

If it comes on again while driving, this usually means there is a major problem with your coolant - typically that it has leaked out of the engine entirely so the sensor doesn't read anything! What happens next is that the engine rapidly overheats, destroying the cylinder head gasket, and soon after - the engine itself!

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Most cars I have dealt with, the temperature gauge reads the coolant temp, not oil... –  Nick C Nov 15 '13 at 10:51
    
Nick - d'oh - yes...corrected. –  Rory Alsop Nov 15 '13 at 12:06
    
Okay, that sounds good to me. Thanks. The Fit doesn't have much power, so it's possible to a certain extent to "rev the engine" just getting it to match the speed of traffic down Main Street. (Relatedly, I once had an officer almost give me a ticket for "exhibition of speed" for doing just that several years ago - in a '97 Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift. It almost would have been fun to take that to court.) I'll be sure to take more care in the future, though. –  Garrett Albright Nov 15 '13 at 19:47

Checking several Fit forums it means the engine is cold. What this means for you is that the engine has not reached operating temperature so drive it responsibly, no jack rabbit starts, no high revs, no high loads etc. I would assume the light would stay on in event of a defective thermostat or stuck fan relay, essentially over cooling the engine According to some complaints on the forums there is no temperature gauge in some models just a cold light that goes out shortly after start up and a high temp light you hope only lights up on initial start up.

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