There are a lot of routine maintenance items that need to be done on your car. These include things to listen to, things to replace on a regular basis and things to check to make sure they aren’t wearing out. We have a series of articles about the routine maintenance checks you should be doing on your vehicle every week, every month and every six months. If you’re interested you can start by reading our first article about weekly routine maintenance.
When it comes to your car thermostat, it actually falls outside of the routine maintenance category. The thermostat in your vehicle will most likely not wear out or become less effective over time due to normal driving. Your thermostat is a pretty simple piece of equipment with a pretty simple job. Your thermostat is a valve on your vehicle’s cooling system which regulates how much of the coolant gets recirculated straight back into the engine and how much gets sent out through your radiator to be cooled before it recirculates through your engine. By modulating how much coolant gets sent through the radiator, the thermostat can keep the temperature of the coolant in your engine in a very specific range no matter how warm or cold it is outside. This specific temperature range is the range your engine is designed to operate most efficiently in, getting the maximum power without overheating and damaging any parts. This is usually about 1800F to 2000F.
A car thermostat opens and closes through the use of a bimetallic spring, a wax piston or other thermally controlled device. In a bimetallic spring, there are two different types of metal bonded together. These two types of metal expand at a different rate when they are heated, so as the engine coolant warms up the two metals expand, one to a different length than the other. This causes the spring to straighten which pushes the valve open. Similarly in a wax cylinder there is a wax that melts right around the temperature your engine should operate. When the wax melts, it expands pushing on the cylinder which moves and opens the valve.
Both of these mechanisms are so simple that there is very little to break, change, or go wrong. There are however some situations where you need to replace the thermostat in your vehicle. If your car ever overheats, it could cause damage to your thermostat. Every vehicle has a temperature gauge to help you make sure your vehicle’s engine is operating in the proper temperature range. If the temperature gauge ever gets more than ¾ of the way up its range, or reaches the red line, you have probably done damage to your thermostat. High temperatures can ruin the bonding on the bimetallic spring or change the properties of the wax cylinder so your thermostat won’t open at the specified temperature it is supposed to.
If either of these situations happen to your car it may be worth replacing your thermostat. Replacing a car thermostat includes the draining and refilling of your vehicle’s cooling system so you may also consider performing a cooling system flush while you are replacing the thermostat. Flushing the cooling system of your car can help remove the buildup and deposits that have formed overtime due to normal use of your vehicle. They can also help remove scale and precipitation caused when your vehicle recently over heated. Since you already are draining your vehicle’s cooling system to replace the thermostat, you are only adding 2 extra steps to your project, adding BlueDevil Radiator Flush and driving for a few days, then draining the system again. For more information on how easy it is to use BlueDevil Radiator Flush you can find the directions online here..
You can also purchase BlueDevil Radiator Flush at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:
- Advance Auto Parts
- Bennett Auto Supply
- CarQuest Auto parts
- NAPA Auto Parts
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Pep Boys
- Fast Track
- Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
- S&E Quick Lube Distributer
- DYK Automotive
Picture provided by:
Car Thermostat – By Hoikka1 in Own Work. Licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 Via Wikimedia. Original Link