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1998 Ram 1500, 5.2L, 210k miles

The temp gauge on the dash goes from 210 to 280 very quickly. Usually at 260, and by 280, there is a big noise from behind the glove box. The noise is hard to explain. It sounds like water surging through the heater core, and/or something flapping. It lasts for about 5 seconds then all is quiet again, for a while. As soon as the noise happens, the temp gauge usually starts dropping and 30 seconds later, it's back to 210. A few minutes later, it all repeats.

I suspect the temp gauge sensor is faulty. Can the coolant temp really drop 70 degrees in 30 seconds?

It isn't uncommon to have a faint coolant smell but I can't find any signs of a leak. The carpet/floor mat is dry, no puddle outside, no steam, coolant overflow jug hasn't changed.

I have found that turning the temp dial from full cold to full hot has almost no impact. Sometimes, just after the noise, there is a little heat in the vent but almost not enough to notice, and it only lasts a few seconds.

Thank you!
 
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