The thermostat of your car works with the radiator and coolant to help keep your engine at an optimal temperature. When the thermostat is working properly, it works as part of the radiator system flow. The thermostat allows hot coolant to enter the radiator to prevent the engine from overheating. So if you’re experiencing overheating issues, your thermostat may be to blame. Here are four signs that it needs to be replaced.
1. High Temperature
One of the first signs that your thermostat may need replacement is how high the temperature inside gets. It isn't unheard of for a car to reach a high temperature and possibly become overheated. If you have the car serviced, or if you refill your coolant on your own, this usually helps or fixes the overheating issue. The problem is when the temperature crawls back up quickly and stays high regardless of what you do.
Though high temperatures may indicate a small leak in the coolant tank, they can also be a sign that the thermostat is not working properly. One way to make sure the issue is with thermostat is to look for quick spikes in the temperature. For example, if you start the car and the engine temperature is cool but spikes very high within a few short minutes, then it may be the thermostat.
2. Cold Engine
There is a misconception that if your car thermostat has gone bad, then your engine is constantly running hot. Though a hot engine is one of the signs that something may be wrong, your engine could also start running cold. A cold engine is also caused by a bad thermostat and can affect the operation of your car.
Keep in mind that the main function of the thermostat is to allow hot coolant to move through to the radiator. The thermostat helps the coolant cool down so the engine will not overheat. If the thermostat remains open, however, the coolant will continually move through regardless if it is hot or not. This will cause a cold engine, which can cause mechanical issues with the car.
3. Temperature Gauge Issues
You can easily access the thermostat to check the temperature gauge yourself, which can be the quickest way to decide whether or not your thermostat needs to be replaced. You will need a set of needle nose pliers to remove the thermostat.
Once you remove it, clean the thermostat off and place it in a bowl of hot water, but make sure you check the temperature of the hot water before placing the thermostat inside the bowl. Place the thermostat into the water and watch the temperature gauge. If the thermostat gauge doesn’t go up, spikes, or goes up far beyond the actual temperature of the water, then your thermostat likely needs to be replaced.
4. Coolant Level Issues
If you start noticing issues with the thermostat check the coolant levels. When you put the coolant into the coolant tank, note where the level of the coolant falls. There should be a fill line on the side of the coolant tank or some way for you to measure the levels. Take note when you refill the coolant and what level it is at after the refill.
If the coolant levels drastically change, then your thermostat may not be working properly. You should see a gradual decrease. If the tank is completely empty, then you could have a leak and a thermostat issue. If you see no change at all, your thermostat may be stuck in the closed position.
If you think your car’s thermostat isn’t working properly, visit us at White's Automotive Center. We can run a full diagnostic to determine where the issues are with your car and what needs to be repaired or replaced, including the thermostat.