Taurus 3.8 Temperature gauge

I have a 3.8 Taurus wagon ( Automatic T.) I started my car in the morning for work and drove about 5 blocks. As luck would have it I looked down at the temp gauge just in the nick of
time and saw the needle go from normal to the extreme right of the meter, Hot. I mean it was just 2 seconds as it quickly moved from Normal to past the Hot point.
I pulled over and stopped the car. I could not see anything wrong or any water leaking anywhere.
I then decided to drive it back home to investigate further. I took it home and tried to open the rad to see if there was water in it but there was too much pressure and a little burped out. I closed it back up not wanting to leak all my anti freeze. It seemed strange frankly that after 5 or 6 minutes that there would be any sufficient pressure to do this but I really don't know. I waited for the car to cool down and then opened the rad. And accept for a little water that I lost the last (a cup) time it was full.
I decided to drive it to my mechanic near where I work. However after as I drove it didn't happen again. So I just went to work which is a good 8-10 miles in stop and go traffic. The temperature seemed to be normal.
Has anyone got any ideas what might be wrong. And perhaps answer these two questions as well.
1. I dont think it can be the thermostat. If it was open or even closed, the symptom of the gauge suddenly going from cool or normal to hot in a matter of seconds doesn't make sense.
2. Can anyone tell me if the temperature sensor in this car is at about 10 O'clock of the thermostat housing?? It has two wires going to it. Is this the thermostat sensor ? If not where is it? The manual I have shows where the sensor is on the 3.0 but the 3.8 doesn't seem to be the same. Could this be the problem.
Thank you.
7willie
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steve wrote:

If the water is low and it overheats, i smell headgasket. Drive it too long like that and your be smelling new motor or junkyard.
Just punch up ford, 3.8, and headgasket in google and see how much fun you have.
Bob
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Yes well as I mentioned the water was not down. I also replaced the head gaskets about 2 years ago not that it could not go again, but Im not sure how this relates nor how it realtes when the water as full up.

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Steve, Probably just a freak one time event, could be the gauge or the sender. I agree that it would be tough for the engine to overheat so quickly, it does build up pressure pretty quick though (the pressure is to raise the boiling point, not a result of the coolant heating up). I'd keep an eye on it, and make sure the fan actually works by turning the AC on (if it gets warm enough). the sensor you are looking at is an ECT sensor. the sensor for the gauge is a single, round lead, on top of the lower intake, under the upper intake, near the back of the engine.
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Thanks Im hoping that is what it is. I have bought a new sensor to replace the old one. In the hope that this is the problem. There are some service reports that the sensor could give eratic readings.
Thanks

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