A coolant temperature model of an internal combustion engine has been formulated to meet the new On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD II) requirement for coolant temperature rationality. The model utilizes information available within the production Engine Control Module (ECM). The temperature prediction capability has been tested for various “real-world” driving conditions and cycles along with regulated drive cycles. The model can be calibrated to find the appropriate timing for initiation of a diagnostic algorithm for engine cooling system and Coolant Temperature Sensor (CTS) faults. A diagnostic scheme has been developed to detect and isolate various types of cooling system failures using engine soak time information available from a low power timer in the ECM. This model-based fault detection scheme will meet the new California Air Resource Board (CARB) regulations for the “high-sided” cooling system rationality and allow more accurate and timely repair of system faults at automotive service centers.