Q: Car over heats,but not really? Hard starting in am as well as after sitting long on 2001 Volkswagen Passat

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Car says STOP, Service..Does it as soon as I turn Key into ignition to on (not starting Car), heat works when car running, temp gauge pegged to max, no leaks seen..Temp guage never goes down, city, highway driving or at idle, not bubbling over either. Hoses appear warm, hard to reach the lower one.
Also it is starting hard as well, but once started, is fine all day, as long as does not sit too 3-4 hours before starting again..
(1) Answer
(2) Comments
First check temp sensor on the engine. Seems it is shorting giving the computer a faulty reading. If it is connected the sensor could be damaged. The hard start when cold is because the computer is reading the 'hot' and not allowing the cold start to function.
That sounds right on. I did try to look at the sensor, it is kind of behind the housing behind the air flow on the back side of the engine, looks corroded. Not sure if bad but looks it, kind of hard engine is old..
Could it be any type of Air temp sensor as well?
What Brand ETC valve would you recommend?
Always use genuine parts as after market spares tend to affect the onboard computer. Change the temp sensor.