With Small Size Comes Great Responsibility
Size aside, the thermostat in your car has a vital job to perform. If its not working as it should and you ignore the symptoms that suggest so, youll eventually end up with a massive repair bill .
Be the responsible car owner and take care of it throughout its lifetime. This is without a doubt the best way to ensure it stays running strong.
How Do You Take The Temperature Of A Car With A/c
Get in the car and close all windows and vents. Leave the center hole open, it is on the dashboard of the car. Start the car engine and run the air conditioner on the lowest temperature while the fan runs on the lowest speed. Insert a thermometer with a long probe into the center hole.
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How Does A Car Thermostat Work
As coolant flows through the engine, it picks up excess heat. Once it leaves the engine, it goes to the radiator, where that excess heat is removed. It then makes a few more stops along its way through the cooling system and ends up back in the engine.
The thermostat is basically a valve between the engine and the radiator.
When the coolant in the engine gets too hot, this valve opens, letting it pass to the radiator where it will cool down. If it is not heated, the thermostat stays closed, allowing the coolant to continue circulating inside the block.
How does the thermostat know when to open or close? It features a unique type of wax that acts as an expanding agent. When the heat reaches a specific temperature, the agent expands, which opens the valve.
When the heat subsides, the agent shrinks, returning the valve to its usual closed position.
As you might have guessed, an engine thats running on hot coolant wont be able to cool down, meaning its at risk of overheating. Let us now look at a few of the most common signs that suggest your thermostat needs attention.
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A Car Thermostat What Exactly Is It
A car thermostat is really nothing more than a valve. It can open and it can close.
It fits in the palm of your hand, but if it doesnt work, the resulting high temperatures could lead to a cracked engine block or a blown head gasket.
So, its a small part, almost easy to miss, but take it out of the equation and the results can be catastrophic.
So, tiny in the bigger scheme of things, but HUGELY important for the health of your cars engine.
Why Is Your Thermostat Reading The Wrong Temperature
Make sure the inside of the thermostat is clean. Make sure the thermostat housing is aligned as misalignment can affect the accuracy of the internal part. Check the location of the drawers, as placing them in direct sunlight or facing drafts on windows and doors can seriously impair proper temperature regulation.
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What Is A Car Thermostat And What Does It Do
The thermostat is one of the simplest, yet most important parts of your cars cooling system. Its job is to regulate the flow of coolant to the air-cooled radiator in the front.
Car thermostat from a Honda Accord
Now, you might be asking Why should a car regulate coolant flow to the radiator? Cant it just allow the coolant to move freely?
You can certainly allow coolant to move freely into the radiator, but the reason why engineers put a thermostat in the way is because the cars engine needs to reach the operating temperature as soon as possible.
The reason for that is that most engine wear occurs during the initial first minutes before the engine reaches the operating temperature of around 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the faster the engine reaches its operating temperature, the less wear occurs thats why you should avoid buying cars that were only used for short drives to the mall.
So, when you first start your car in the morning, the thermostat is closed and it blocks antifreeze from going through the radiator and cooling itself. This forces the coolant to circulate inside the engine and allows the engine to warm up faster.
Once your cars engine is all warmed up and the coolant temperature has reached somewhere around 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermostat opens up and allows coolant to flow through the radiator in order to start cooling the engine, and to keep it at a toasty 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms Of Failing Car Thermostat
Now that we know how a car thermostat works, lets find out how to identify a bad car thermostat. The lifespan of a car thermostat can easily cross 10 years or more. Hence, its not easy to answer how long a car thermostat lasts.
The following signals should give an idea of when to replace a car thermostat:
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How Much Will It Cost To Replace A Car Thermostat
Over time and from constant opening and closing during operation, the thermostat can sink, become stuck in an open or closed position, or be limited by corrosion. You can expect thermostat replacement to cost between $150 and $250 for most vehicles, although some are exponentially higher due to vehicle design.
Component #: Pressure Cap & Reserve Tank
Pressure cap helps to maintain optimal operating pressure in the cooling system.
Because as the coolant heats up and cool down, the pressure goes up and down accordingly too. Too high of a pressure can crack the hoses while too low of a pressure will create air pockets within the system.
Pressure cap does that through the use of spring loaded valves.
- When pressure exceeds a certain threshold, the spring loaded valve opens up and allows some of the coolant to flow into the reserve tank . This relieves the pressure from the cooling system.
- When pressure drops below a certain threshold, the valve we talked about above closes. Instead, it opens up another set of valve which pulls coolant from the overflow tank and into the system.
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In Conclusion: A Small Part That Makes All The Difference
So, how does a cars thermostat work? Theres your answer. Its a small part that has a huge job.
If it works properly, your cars temperature will always be optimal. Youll get great mileage and the engine will purr like a kitten.
If it doesnt work or doesnt work well, you could be in for a world of hurt.
The key is ALWAYS to have something checked out if its not working. It could save you a bundle in the long run.
How To Change Home Thermostat
Remove the existing thermostat base by loosening the set screws. Separate the front of the new thermostat from the base. Let’s start installing the base. Route the low voltage wires through the indicated hole in the base of the new thermostat. If your new thermostat isn’t self-leveling, use a small spirit level to make sure it’s aligned correctly. Secure the base of the thermostat to the wall using the screws supplied with the thermostat. Connect the low voltage wires to the appropriate screw terminals on the base of the new thermostat. If your connections do not match, refer to the installation diagram in the manual of the new thermostats. Tighten all loose cable connections and check that cables and sheath are in good condition. Install battery in thermostat housing . Make sure the battery size and polarity are correct.
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How Do Engine Thermostats Work
The below video is an extract from our Internal Combustion Engine Basics Online Video Course.
The thermostat consists of a primary valve, secondary valve , seal, springs and charge cylinder. The charge cylinder is full of wax with a pre-defined melting point . The wax changes state from solid to liquid at approximately 80°C in most engine cooling water systems.
After the change of state within the charge cylinder, the liquid wax occupies more space than when it was in a solid state. A rod inserted into the charge cylinder is pushed outwards linearly as there is now no longer space for the rod within the charge cylinder. The rod pushes the by-pass valve closed whilst at the same time opening the main valve. The temperature of the engine thus controls the movement of the rod and consequently the amount of cooling water sent to the radiator, or bypassing the radiator.
The thermostat has a proportional response design. The temperature of the cooling water dictates how much the thermostat opens or closes, and if cooling water is sent to the radiator, or, bypasses the radiator this is effectively a feedback loop.
Hot cooling water temperature = Cooling water sent to radiator.
Cold cooling water temperature = Cooling water recirculated
Want to learn more? Click here to learn about the engine cooling water system.
3D Model Details
This 3D model shows all major components associated with a typical thermostat, these include:
- Main Valve
When Should I Change My Batteries In My Thermostat
Batteries should be replaced every two years. Replacing the batteries prevents leaks that can corrode and damage the thermostat. Replace the batteries when you see the battery level indicator on the thermostat. If the batteries are completely discharged, your heating and air conditioning system may not work properly.
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Functions Of The Thermostat Valve In A Car
A good car can serve you faithfully for many years. In fact, this can stretch in to decades if the vehicle is well-maintained and cared for. Should you choose to trade your vehicle in for a newer model, its overall condition will increase its value. Knowing the functions of some of the key parts of your vehicle and keeping on top of maintenance is essential for any driver. One of those parts is the thermostat valve. Lets take a look at what this part does, how to diagnose failures, and how to fix it.
How Does It Work
To put it in simple words, a car thermostat works by responding to the changes in the temperature of the engine coolant. If the engine coolant is cold, then the thermostat maintains its closed position. Once the engine coolant is hot enough, then the thermostat opens to allow the coolant to go to the radiator. It is a very simple yet very effective mechanism.
So how does the thermostat open and close?
The thermostat contains a cylinder filled with wax. This cylinder lies on the engine side of the thermostat so that it maintains contact with the coolant circulating in the engine. The cylinder also comes with a valve that connects to a rod. The rod presses into the wax at the center of the cylinder.
As the engine temperature rises, so does the temperature of the coolant. This slowly melts the wax. The melting wax expands which pushes the rod outwards. This outward movement of the rod is what opens the valve of the cylinder. Coolant can now flow from the engine to the radiator through this opening in the cylinder.
As such, when you start your engine early in the morning, the thermostat is still in its closed position. This allows the engine to warm up and reach its operating temperatures a lot faster. As soon as the engine is warm enough, the engine coolant also rises in temperature. This melts the wax and creates an opening for the coolant to flow.
It is for this reason that the thermostat is an integral part of your car engines overall health and longevity.
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How Does A Car Cooling System Work
To explain how a cooling system works, its necessary to first explain what it does. Its very simplethe cooling system of a car cools the engine. But cooling that engine can seem like a gigantic task, especially when one considers how much heat a car engine generates.
Think about it. The engine of a small car traveling at 50 mph on the highway will produce approximately 4000 explosions per minute. Along with all the friction of the moving parts, thats a lot of heat to be concentrated in one place. Without an effective cooling system, the engine would heat up and quit functioning within a few minutes.
The modern cooling system must keep the car cool in ambient temperatures of 115 degrees, as well as keeping it warm in -25 degree winter weather.
How Does A Thermostat Work In A Car Cooling System
As the engine warms up, the coolant heats up and the thermostat opens. This allows the coolant to pass through the radiator and back to the engine. Here is a complete overview of the thermostat and other parts of the cooling system. Although the car thermostat is a durable part, it is surrounded by hot coolant and vibrates from inside the engine.
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How Do You Know You Have A Bad Or Failing Car Thermostat
Now we know what a car thermostat is and how it works. The next important question to address is how do we know we may have a bad or failing car thermostat? Here are some of the more common symptoms of a bad thermostat in your car.
- Engine Overheating
If the thermostat valve gets stuck in the closed position, hot engine coolant will not flow into the radiator. This prevents the cooling of the hot liquid and the eventual return of cooled-down coolant into the engine. If you keep your engine running you run the risk of destroying it, quite literally.
Of course, engine overheating can also be due to other reasons. It could be because of a low coolant level or a failing water pump. It is also possible that there are leaks in the cooling system. The radiator can also develop clogs or leaks. While there are different reasons why your engine overheats, it is always best to include a bad or failing thermostat as one of the possible culprits.
- Engine Underheating
If the valve of the thermostat gets stuck in the open position, you will have an engine coolant that flows nonstop to the radiator. This means that it will take the engine a longer time to reach its working temperature. It may also have difficulty maintaining it at the optimum range.
- Fluctuations in Engine Temperature
- Poor Engine Performance
The Low Temperature Liquid Refrigerant Passes Through The Other Side Of The Coils
How car ac thermostat works. Its either allowing or blocking coolant from flowing from the motor into the vehicles radiator. The heater core is a heat exchanger much like a radiator. If the engine coolant is cold, then the thermostat maintains its closed position.
This allows fresh air coming from the outside of the vehicle to come in contact with the liquid refrigerant. How does a car thermostat work? The thermostat in most cars is about 2 inches in diameter.
The car thermostat operates as a gatekeeper. Thermostat wiring to a furnace and ac unit! Once the engine coolant is hot enough, then the thermostat opens to allow the coolant to go to the radiator.
Its job is to block the flow of coolant to the radiator until the engine has warmed up. Its the job of the thermostat to read the temperature of the engine and determine if the coolant needs to flow or not. As coolant flows through the engine, it picks up excess heat.
The cooling system components that interact with the heating system are the coolant, thermostat, radiator, and water pump. Thermostat and magnetic clutch systems during the earlier years of machine air conditioning, many systems did not provide a means for stopping the pumping action of the compressor. The heater core, blower motor/fan, heater hoses, heater control valve, and the hvac control panel/assembly inside the cabin.
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Engine Failure To Warm Up
There can be an opposite situation where the thermostat valve is stuck in an open position. Since the fluid circulates nonstop, the engine is unable to maintain its optimum operating temperature. This can lead to performance issues leading to poor fuel economy and accelerate the wearing of engine components.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Thermostat On A Car
Car Thermostat Replacement Service How much does it cost to replace a car thermostat? The average cost to replace an automatic thermostat on a Dodge Grand Caravan is $155, of which $60 is for parts and $95 for labor. Prices may vary by location.
Radiator hose replacementWhen should radiator hose’s be replaced?It is recommended that the radiator hose be replaced every four years or 60,000 miles.If you decide to replace the hose yourself, make sure you choose the correct hose for your year, make and model.If your car needs a new water pump, it is a sign that it has already overheated and it is recommended that you replace the hose.How do you change the lower radiator
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