Signs of a bad thermostat include problems with engine overheating, issues with erratic temperature fluctuations, and troubles with the engine under heating.
The thermostat is one of the most crucial components in your vehicle. It is responsible for controlling the flow of coolant around the engine to maintain its temperature.
Over time of use, the thermostat might fail, although this situation is not very common. When dealing with a failed thermostat, you're probably dealing with either a stuck opened thermostat or a stuck closed thermostat.
While a stuck open thermostat prevents your engine from reaching its optimum temperature, a stuck closed thermostat is one of the very critical situations that you never want to ignore to avoid engine self-destruction during
This article walks you through a list of potential signs of a bad thermostat to keep an eye on. Once you notice any of these signs, you must consult your professional mechanic immediately to prevent catastrophic results.
What is the thermostat, and what does it do?
The thermostat is one of the most crucial components in your vehicle's cooling system. It's responsible for regulating the flow of the coolant around the engine.
The engine is supposed to work at a certain temperature level; if this temperature level guts disturbed, the engine might fail due to overheating.
As the engine's temperature rises, the thermostat will open and allow the coolant to flow around the engine to bring its temperature down. When the engine temperature goes down, the thermostat closes and prevents the coolant from flowing around the engine to maintain an operating temperature.
The thermostat is supposed to last for the vehicle's lifetime, and it's not very common to deal with thermostat damages in the early stages of the vehicle’s lifetime. However, this situation is not rare, and there will be a point of time where you might be dealing with thermostat issues.
What are the common signs of a bad thermostat?
Although the thermostat lasts for a long time, you might deal with a situation where it gets stuck open or stuck closed. If that happens, some consequences might result and, in some scenarios, a bad thermostat might cause engine failure.
The good news is that your vehicle will let you know immediately once the thermostat will fail or if it has a problem. Let's take a closer look at some of the common signs of a bad thermostat below:
Since the thermostat is responsible for maintaining the engine's temperature by allowing the coolant to flow around it, you'll see a response from the engine's temperature once the thermostat fails.
Engine overheating happens only when the thermostat gets stuck closed because no coolant will be allowed around the engine, and thus, the engine's temperature will keep rising without a limit.
Of course, engine overheating can happen due to many other reasons, and the best course of action is to perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle so you can pinpoint the culprit.
Keep in mind that engine overheating is one of those dangerous situations where you would never want to ignore, and in some scenarios, you might not even be able to drive the vehicle one mile. Thus, consult your mechanic by phone immediately if you're dealing with engine overheating signs and describe the situation to decide better whether to drive this car to the repair shop or to tow it.
Issues temperature fluctuations
Another thing you might notice when the thermostat goes bad is what's referred to as erratic temperature fluctuations. This means that the temperature gauge on your cabin will not read accurate numbers and keep going up and down without a clear reason.
Since the temperature gauge is one of the most important things you want to keep an eye on, never ignore temperature issues related to the thermostat.
Low engine temperature
Another opposite situation happens when the thermostat gets stuck open. As we described before, the thermostat is responsible for allowing or preventing the coolant from flowing around the engine.
When the coolant is continuously allowed around the engine, the engine will not be able to raise its temperature to the optimum level, and therefore, it will stay cool all the time.
Although we always say that temperature is one of the biggest settings for a vehicle, it is still useful for any combustion system to operate properly. While there is a top and upper limit for the engine temperature, there is another lower limit for the engine to operate properly.
Therefore, continuously flowing coolant around the engine is not a good thing because it drops the engine temperature of the low the minimum threshold. Therefore, the engine will not operate the way it should.
How much does it cost to fix a bad thermostat?
The thermostat replacement cost ranges from $200 and $300. Keep in mind that labor cost is another component you need to consider, especially if you plan to go to a dealership instead of a small repair shop.
Keeping in mind that replacing the thermostat is not a complicated job than many people decide to do it themselves instead of spending a lot of money on labor costs.
However, if you're not comfortable with replacing the thermostat and you think that you don't have the necessary mechanical skill sets, you have to be careful about testing things on your vehicle because DIY's do not work the first time, which can be a little concerning if you are driving a modern or expensive vehicle.
Can I drive with a bad thermostat?
Deciding whether it's OK to drive your car with a bad thermostat depends heavily on the type of failure you are dealing with. For example, if your vehicle's thermostat is stuck open, the engine will continuously be cold, which is not good, but it does not travel simultaneously. Therefore, driving a car with a stuck open thermostat is OK to reach certain distances but should not be left.
On the other hand, if the thermostat is stuck closed, the situation is more complicated, which means that the engine will continuously be overheating.
As we always mention, engine overheating is a terrible problem that any driver does not want to deal with. Thus, once confirming that the thermostat is stuck closed, you might not be able to drive your vehicle a mile, and therefore, your best course of action is to have a call with your mechanic and describe the situation. You can provide some details about the current engine temperature along with the distance between your location and the repair shop. Then, allow the mechanic to advise you about whether it's a good idea to drive your car a couple of miles to reach the repair shop or instead towing it to the nearest repair shop.
Is it worth fixing my vehicle's thermostat?
Since replacing the thermostat is not very expensive when we compare it to meet her repair costs like replacing the engine or the transmission, it is definitely worth repairing it unless your vehicle is not worth it.
In other words, if you're driving a very old vehicle that has tons of other complications, think about how much the total cost is. If the total cost is close to 75% of or more of your vehicle's value, it is not worth spending time or effort replacing the thermostat because other complicated problems are coming down the road.
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How can you tell if your thermostat is stuck closed?
This is an easy task. To check if your thermostat is stuck closed, you can perform a quick diagnostic that doesn't take time or effort.
The first thing you need to check is the radiator's temperature by touching it. If you notice that the radiator's temperature is high and then just the temperature is not, this indicates that the thermostat is stuck closed.
You can also feel the hoses around the radiator to see if one is hot and the other is cold; it indicates that the thermostat is also stuck closed because it's basically not allowing the hot coolant from flowing to the other side.
Keep in mind that working around the thermostat and the radiator is dangerous, especially if the engine's temperature is rising crazy. Therefore, take all necessary precautions before performing this diagnostic to prevent causing some injuries to yourself and the people around you.
Can I replace my thermostat?
As we already mentioned, replacing the thermostat is not a complicated job. It's a good idea if you're planning to save on labor costs, but you have to make sure that you have the necessary mechanical skill sets to prevent introducing major damages to your vehicle.
If you would like to replace your vehicles thermostats, you can follow these simple steps:
- Depending on your vehicle's type, locate the thermostat. You might need to search into your vehicle's owner’s manual or probably check online for where the thermostat is located.
- Then, put an empty bucket under the thermostat because a lot of fluid will drain, and you need to collect it as working on replacing the thermostat.
- Take out the clams around the radiator so we can take the thermostat out
- Remove all hoses and make sure to drain them in the empty bucket
- There will be a couple of bolts around the thermostat housing where you need to unscrew them and lift the thermostat carefully without damaging it.
- Compare the new thermostat to the old one to ensure that you are installing the right one here many times; after having everything ready, drivers may get surprised that they are purchasing the wrong thermostat. That's why we recommend that you ensure that you review the vehicle's owner’s manual to make sure you're buying the right thermostat.
- Once installing the new thermostat in place, put everything back in reverse order to Took them out.
- Make sure to top off any necessary cool once because while you're working, many coolant lights are drained, which means that the current level in your vehicle is not at the optimum level.
- Once everything is completed, give your vehicle a quick test drive and see if the problem is resolved.
For any combustion system, the temperature is a very important component, and it must be maintained within a certain range for the engine to work properly. The thermostat is a critical component in the cooling system, responsible for maintaining the engine temperature with him the operating range.
The thermostat controls the flow of the coolant around the engine, and this thermostat is supposed to last for a long time. However, there might be a time where you have to deal with thermostat troubles where it gets stuck open door stuck closed.
Whatever the situation has, you must take care of the thermostat problems immediately, especially if you're dealing with stuck-closed thermostats to prevent engine failures.
If you notice that your vehicle suffers from many other problems along with the thermostat issue, it might not be worth spending your time and effort replacing it and fixing the vehicle.
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