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My last car was a 2001 Subaru Forester and it’s coolant temps were rock solid no matter what. However I haven’t had my Element long enough to be familiar with normal operating behavior.

Today I was stuck in traffic for a while and I noticed my coolant temps going up pretty quick. I turned on the heat and put the fan on high (A/C button off) and that helped bring the temps down.

Before I start troubleshooting I’m looking for people that drive their elements in traffic a lot and what kind of temps they are seeing.

I know a common issue with elements is the A/C fan going bad but I want to make the behavior I observed was an issue before I start buying parts.
 

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Normal temp for my ECT is 194F when warmed up. When stuck in traffic, temp goes up to 217F before the fans start running. Driving uphill in mountainous roads, temps will go higher, although I haven’t monitored this driving condition much, Ive seen it up to 223F. FWIW, I seen other owners report slightly different numbers from mine.

Between 194 and 223F, the temp gauge on the instrument cluster stays rocks steady at around 40% up the scale.

I would certainly troubleshoot your fan circuit If your temp gauge indicator is going up. IME, if the temp gauge goes up, both fans are not turning on.
 
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If its steady going down the road, but rises at lights, definitely a fan issue.
 
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