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How to Change A Car Thermostat? A Step-By-Step Procedure

Thermostat Leaking Coolant

If you're looking for “how to change a car thermostat?” Follow these simple steps:

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  • Find the thermostat
  • Use a bucket to collect the coolant
  • Take out any clamps
  • Disconnect the hoses
  • Remove the thermostat housing
  • Compare the new to the old thermostat
  • Install the new thermostat
  • Inspect the hoses and clamps
  • Top off the coolant
  • Give you a vehicle test drive

Your engine must operate within a certain level of temperature, and when the temperature exceeds, it results in significant damages that could cost you a lot of money. Some of the very common reasons for an overheated engine have to do with a bad thermostat.

When you're dealing with a bad thermostat, you must replace it immediately before dealing with many complications that might be beyond your budget to repair. Luckily, changing the thermostat is not a complicated job, and it's something inexpensive that you can do by yourself at home without needing a mechanic.

Let's investigate this article to learn more about how to change a car thermostat?!

What is the thermostat, and what does it do?

Before we dive into the details about “how to change a car thermostat?” It is critical to understand the thermostat in the first place and what it does in your vehicle?

The thermostat is a small component of your vehicle's cooling system. This system is responsible for dropping the engine temperature when it exceeds a certain maximum threshold. If the maximum temperature threshold in your engine is exceeded, you can deal with immediate engine breakdowns that could cost you a lot of money.

Every component within your cooling system now has this specific role. When it comes to the thermostat, it is responsible for monitoring and controlling the coolant flow from the engine to the radiator. In other words, the thermostat serves as a valve that opens whenever the coolant temperature is very high and requires something to cool it down. Once the thermostat opens, coolant runs immediately around the radiator to drop some of its temperatures until it's ready to cool the engine down again.

Suppose you don't know the details about how the cooling system works. In that case, we advise you to go through some of the articles that we highlighted before to help you better understand how critical is the thermostat within the cooling system process.

During use, the thermostat breaks down like any other component in your car because it's not designed to last forever. When that happens, you must get it replaced because it can lead to significant damages and might disturb the internal performance of your vehicle's cooling system.

Can you replace a car thermostat yourself?

There was that, but placement is a very simple job, and it's almost the simplest thing that you can do very yourself in any list of car repairs that you might encounter. For example, many automotive experts freely advise you to replace your thermostat if you are confident and know how the process is done properly.

It is important to note that if you're driving a luxury car and don't want to deal with any potential complications, you are advised to consult with your mechanic and check with the dealership if it's OK to replace your thermostat. Sometimes if simple DIY's do not go the right way, they can lead to significant issues.

How to change a car thermostat?

If you confirm that your vehicle's thermostat has a problem, you only have one option to replace it. However, since replacing the thermostat is not a complicated job, many drivers prefer to do it themselves to save on labor costs.

To change your car's thermostat, follow these simple steps:

  1. Find the thermostat

The first step in changing your vehicle's thermostat is to locate it. Typically, the thermostat is located somewhere between the radiator and the engine mounted to the engine block. However, if you found it a little challenging to locate the thermostat, you can easily go through your vehicle's owner’s manual to get better guidance.

  1. Use a bucket to collect the coolant

It is important to note that changing the thermostat is a slightly messy process, which means that there will be some coolant dropping on the floor. To avoid having cool and getting to the floor and contaminating the sand or probably the waterway, you must place a small bucket underneath the thermostat's location. Hence, it collects all drops of coolant.

Note that when you change the thermostat, it's not going to be a huge amount of coolant, which means that you don't need the massive, large buckets to collect old coins, but it's going to be a couple of drops.

  1. Take out any clamps

Depending on how the thermostat is mounting to your radiator or the engine block, you might need to remove certain clamps to help you disconnect the thermostat from the radiator.

  1. Disconnect the hoses

Once you remove the clams, you can go ahead and disconnect the different hoses to help get access to the thermostat. Note that whenever you take out the hose, some fluid will drain and escape, which is why you placed the bucket underneath the working location.

  1. Remove the thermostat housing

The next step is to take out the thermostat housing by unbolting the different bolts that connect it to the engine block. Again, depending on the type of bolts and your vehicle's brand, you might need certain tools to take out the thermostat housing.

  1. Compare the new to the old thermostat

Before you go ahead and secure the new thermostat, you must compare the new to the old one. Many inexperienced drivers might install the wrong thermostat by mistake and then wonder why the process didn't work. Therefore, ensure that you're buying the right one, and you might want to compare the thermostat towards the front in your vehicle's owner’s manual for more accurate guidance.

  1. Install the new thermostat

Installing the new thermostat is not a complicated job, and it should be easily done. All you must do is place the thermostat, make sure that the spring slide faces the bottom, and secure it the way the old one was secured.

  1. Inspect the hoses and clamps

In many instances, better than be in bad condition and the hoses and probably the clamps. Therefore, since you're already doing the job, take a visual inspection and check if the hoses or declines have any signs of damage is that require replacement. If that's the case, consider replacing them to avoid dealing with some complications with your cooling system.

  1. Top off the coolant

Since some of the coolants might've escaped during the thermostat replacement process, consider measuring the coolant and topping it off with the required amount of coolant until the coolant reaches the optimum level.

  1. Give you a vehicle test drive

That's it! You are now good to go and give you a car at just drive. You might have seen some signs indicating that the thermostat is not working properly, and by now, you should not see any of these signs.

However, if you feel that there's still something wrong, we advise that you consult your mechanic and have him look at what you've done in cases of anything that was done wrong.

What are the common symptoms of a bad thermostat?

Since the thermostat is a critical component in your cooling system, you must keep an eye for any symptoms indicating that the thermostat is going bad before it even does appear this way, you'll save yourself a ton of money on major car repairs that could happen due to bad thermostat performance.

Luckily, your car is smart enough and will show you some of the following symptoms to help bring your attention to replace the thermostat as soon as possible:

  1. High-temperature gauge reading

One of the first most common symptoms of a bad thermostat is a high-temperature reading on the vehicle's gauge. This gauge communicates with you by providing us with some information about the current engine temperature. Typically, this gauge should not read very high. Otherwise, you are dealing with engine overheating.

Since the bad thermostat might lead to engine overheating very quickly, it's the most likely problem you're dealing with after a low coolant level. However, note that a high-temperature gauge reading might not necessarily be linked to only thermostat problems; therefore, before you go ahead and replace the thermostat, you must perform a thorough inspection to detect any other issues that could be the culprit.

  1. Significant fluctuations in the air temperature

The heating system in your vehicle is connected somehow to the engine. Therefore, if there is an issue with engine overheating, you might notice some sudden fluctuation in the air temperature coming out of the vents. When that happens, you must stop your vehicle and consult your mechanic immediately because the issue might be related to engine overheating because of a bad thermostat or any other problem.

  1. Coolant leaks

When the thermostat has problems, it typically gets stuck open or stuck closed. A stuck closed thermostat might lead to coolant leaks underneath your vehicle. But, again, the coolant leak might be linked to something else, which means that you can't immediately say that it's just a bad thermostat.

However, there is a way to confirm that your thermostat is stuck open door stuck closed by visually monitoring it. For example, you can open the hood and monitor the thermostat's behavior when your engine is running. If the thermostat remains open and when the engine temperature exceeds certain thresholds, it indicates that the thermostat is stuck open. On the other hand, if the thermostat was completely closed when you first start your car, it indicates that it is stuck closed.

This way, you can confirm that all of your dealings have to do with a bad thermostat that needs replacement.

How much does it cost to change a car thermostat?

If you're not feeling comfortable changing your vehicle's thermostat, that's not a problem because the thermostat replacement cost is not very high, and it's something that should not be a big deal to many drivers. Typically, service the replacement costs range from $197 and $231.

Keep in mind that this price range is still significantly higher than what it will cost you if you do the job yourself. So, therefore, we leave it up to you to evaluate whether you have the right level of mechanical skill sets to change your thermostat or have your mechanic done the job so you don't cause some mistakes that could cost you a lot of money because you don't have the right experience.

It's important to note that this should not scare you from learning how to change a car thermostat by yourself because, as you might notice, it's not a complicated job, and once you've done it at one time, you shouldn't have any problem the next time.


Your vehicle thermostat is a very core component in your car's cooling system. It is responsible for allowing coolant to run from the engine to the radiator when the coolant temperature is high enough, and the coolant is not capable of cooling down the engine.

This article provided you with a step-by-step procedure on how to change a car thermostat when it has any problem. The process is very straightforward and should not require a mechanic if you have just a minimal level of mechanical skill sets.

Note that a bad thermostat might lead to major mechanical problems. If that's the case, you must evaluate the situation carefully before investing thousands of dollars in your vehicle. Automotive experts recommend that if repair costs exceed 75% or more from your vehicle's value, it is the right time now to sell your car and use its value to buy a better vehicle that doesn't have any problem.

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  • Describe your car’s type and condition
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