Car Thermostat Replacement: The When, How, and the Cost
A car’s thermostat is a significant component of your engine cooling system. Though small, it is the component that controls the flow of coolant in the engine.
Before starting your car, the thermostat is in the closed position. The engine starts getting hotter when you turn on the vehicle and start driving. The thermostat opens to allow the coolant to flow into the engine through the radiator.
The process continues as the car thermostat opens and closes as needed. During this process, hot coolant from the engine cools via the radiator and recirculates back to the engine to cool it. The engine temperature, therefore, maintains an ideal temperature range.
When Do You Need to Get Your Car’s Thermostat Replaced?
- Leaking Coolant
- A Higher or Lower Than Normal Temperature Gauge Reading
- Rumbling Noises
- Sudden Air Temperature Changes
- A Hot Engine but Cold Radiator Outlet Hose
- When Doing an Entire Cooling System Replacement
When the car thermostat is stuck in the closed position, it may block coolant from reaching the engine. The result is an overflow in the thermostat housing, causing a leak visible under your vehicle.
A Higher or Lower Than Normal Temperature Gauge Reading
If the thermostat is stuck in the closed position, engine cooling won’t happen, resulting in the temperature gauge rising near the hot end. If the thermostat is stuck in the open position, the engine takes a long time to warm up, causing the temperature gauge to remain near the cold end.
Noises coming from the radiator can also indicate a malfunction of the engine cooling system due to a failure of the car thermostat. The noise could resemble a boiling or gurgling sound.
Sudden Air Temperature Changes
A sudden spike in air temperature (too low or too hot) in the cabin that doesn’t reflect the current AC settings could indicate a problem with the car thermostat.
A Hot Engine but Cold Radiator Outlet Hose
It happens when the thermostat is stuck in the closed position. The coolant only circulates in the engine, eventually making it very hot.
When Doing an Entire Cooling System Replacement
As a form of preventative maintenance, whenever you’re replacing your engine cooling components like the radiator, don’t forget to replace the thermostat. It is a sure way of maintaining it, as it will eventually fail.
In newer, modern vehicles, a check engine light appears in the instrument cluster when you have a problem with your thermostat. So it is usually a convenient indicator of an issue with your engine.
When you notice any of these signs, consider visiting an auto shop for a qualified professional to check the status of your car’s thermostat. They will check the following parts of a thermostat for signs of damage or fault.
- Frame and Housing: It includes a valve attached to the piston and acts as the outlet of the coolant. It fails when you mix coolants that aren’t compatible.
- Flange: It acts as the connecting piece between the different cooling circuit pipes. It fails due to exposure to poor quality coolant, constant exposure to high temperatures, wear and tear and vibrations.
- Spring: It controls the opening and closing of the valve to direct coolant as needed. When the coolant temperature drops, the valve closes, and when the coolant temperature rises, the valve opens. The spring may suffer from wear and tear over time.
- Wax element: When the wax comes into contact with the hot coolant, it melts and expands, causing the thermostat to open. When the wax comes into contact with cool coolant, the valve close. The wax efficiency may drop over time, losing the optimal closing and opening points.
How To Replace a Car’s Thermostat
Car engine thermostat replacement is easy when you follow the following steps.
- Wait for the engine to cool down
- Take the radiator cap off
- Put a drip pan under your car’s radiator drain plug
- Open the drain valve and drain the coolant. You can store this coolant for later use.
- Remove the hose clamp and pull out the hose
- Remove the thermostat housing using a ratchet
- Using pliers, remove the old thermostat
- Remove residue from the sealing surface and housing flanges that could cause improper fitting leading to a coolant leak.
- Replace the thermostat with another that has the same heat rating. Put it so that the valve end points up, and the spring side goes into the engine. Also, ensure that it is correctly aligned.
- Bolt the thermostat housing back onto the engine
- Reconnect the radiator hose and clamp
- Add coolant into the coolant system.
- Screw the radiator cap back on. Then run the car for around 10 minutes while monitoring the coolant level. It also helps to remove air bubbles from the system.
How Long Does Thermostat Replacement Take?
Car thermostat replacement time is 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the make of the car. It will cost you around $190 to $350, including labor.
Thermostat repairs usually take more time, requiring extra time to diagnose and analyze the vehicle’s thermostat. It can take up to 2 hours. It costs from $100 to $300.
To ensure the complete solving of the thermostat problem, replacement is better than repair, as the car gets a new part. It also helps to extend the lifespan of the car’s cooling system.
How Often Should You Get Car Thermostat Replacement?
Car thermostats eventually fail because of normal tear and wear. However, they still function effectively for up to 10 years before needing a replacement.
Since a problem with a car’s thermostat can lead to expensive engine repairs, it is important to prolong the life of the thermostat. Here is how to do it.
- Monitor the coolant levels in your vehicle constantly.
- Always use the appropriate coolant for your vehicle. Avoid mixing to mitigate the corrosive effects of a mixture of different coolants.
- Avoid adding dirt and debris to the coolant reservoir.
- Ensure you have proper engine mounts in your engine bay to reduce vibrations that loosen parts of the car thermostat.
- Ensuring proper service techniques of the cooling system to avoid air getting in.
- Using a power clean flush once in a while to do a comprehensive clean of the cooling system to remove dirt and debris.
Car Thermostat Repair Near Me
If you’re wondering whether it is safe to drive with a car thermostat problem, it isn’t recommended. If you ignore a thermostat issue in your car, you risk incurring way bigger charges from engine breakdown in the future.
Fortunately, you can seek the services of a professional car thermostat replacement mechanic at Auto Gallery Chevrolet Buick GMC. We will diagnose your engine cooling system completely to ensure that we identify whether the thermostat is stuck in an open or closed position.
Afterward, we will promptly repair or replace the thermostat so you can drive off with your problem-free car within an hour.