Low Temp Gauge Reading
OK, I've read a couple threads about low temp gauge readings on the console and have three possibilities.
Backgound: This is a 2000 323iT with less than 100K miles and decent (not perfect) maint over the last 10 years. Had a big coolant system replacement at about 70K, a few years ago, due to the notorious E46 disintegrating plastic impeller on the water pump.
Anyway, for the last week or less I've noticed temp gauge taking a long time to get past about 25 percent (normally reads dead center 50 percent of the gauge after initial warmup, just like any other E46).
This morning I drove about 12 miles of highway at 70-80MPH (oops) and it stayed around 25 percent (just above blue). Only when I got off the highway and came to a stoplight did it start a rise to the normal center position, and got to center after about 2 or 3 minutes of 25-30 MPH driving.
Also have noticed an odd smell the past day or two at stoplights, like oil burning. This morning I realized it was my car making that odor. It could also be a coolant smell. I concluded all of this on the way to work this morning and haven't yet popped the hood.
From what I've found here it could be (a) vent screw, (b) thermostat, or (c) leaky radiator cap.
Hopefully I'll be able to make 15 miles back home without problems, and take a look this evening or tomorrow AM.
Anyone have any insights or thoughts?