My car runs poorly and will not heat up to operating temperature, what can I do?

mugen_b_thermostatRemoving and replacing your thermostat

          A thermostat in your car is much like the thermostat in your house.  The thermostat helps regulate the engines temperature.  This is vital to proper operation of the vehicle, and a vehicle’s efficiency.  A thermostat is a cheap part to replace, and it easily done at home by any average person.

            What the thermostat does is it regulates the engine temperature, and allows the vehicle to get to peak operating temperature and stay there.  This is vital to your car heating up quickly in the cold winter.  It is also vital to gas mileage, a bad thermostat can keep a car running colder and this leads to more fuel being consumed.  This is because a cold engine needs more fuel to run than a warm one does.

            When it comes to replacing your vehicles thermostat it is a very simple procedure.  The nice thing about this too is the cost of the thermostat is very cheap, and the job can be done in your driveway.  I recommend when you replace your thermostat to not necessarily go for the cheapest one, they don’t always work as well as the higher quality ones.  What I mean by they do not work as well, is that they might show spikes in temperatures, and you will notice this by your temperature gauge always moving.

The Procedure

  1. First you will need to open the petcock on the bottom of your radiator and drain the coolant out. You will need to locate the correct size wrench or an adjustable wrench.  If you don’t have any wrenches I would recommend checking out this 125 pc. Mechanic’s Tool Set it not only has wrenches, but it has a socket set too!
  2. Now that you have opened the petcock and drained your radiator, you are going to want to locate your thermostat cover.  It is usually on the top of your engine.  Follow your top hose from your radiator to a metal cover on the engine block.  This is usually the case, if not then you may need to consult your service manual or nearest shop for some information.
  3. Now that you have located your thermostat cover you can remove it.  Start by removing the hose connected to the housing.  You will then need to remove the bolts holding it down.  This is where your 125 pc. Mechanic’s Tool Set comes in handy.
  4. Once you have removed the bolts, remove the cover.  Leave the thermostat in place.  You now want to write down the way that your thermostat is sitting and take a couple notes.  Just so that you are able to put the replacement one back the exact same way.
  5. Now that you have some notes, remove the old thermostat.  You will need to take a scraper and remove all of the old gasket material from the components.  After you have removed the old gasket take a rag and wipe down both the cover and the part on the block.
  6. You are ready to put your new thermostat in.  Take your notes out and look at them and place the new thermostat in the engine in the correct position.
  7. Next take the cover and place the new gasket on it.  Set the cover in place, making sure the gasket is in place and reinstall the bolts.
  8. Reconnect all of the hoses, and close the radiator petcock.
  9. Once you have done that take a 50/50 mix of coolant and water and fill your radiator.
  10. Next start your vehicle and allow it to run for a couple of minutes.  Make sure to watch the temperature gauge.  The main reason that you are running your vehicle is to get the air bubbles out of the system.
  11. Now that your vehicle is to operating temperature and stays there shut it off. 
  12. Let your vehicle sit for twenty minutes and come back and remove the radiator cap. NEVER REMOVE A RADIATOR CAP ON A HOT ENGINE OR BOILING COOLANT WILL SHOOT EVERYWHERE.  You want to check the level, if it is low in the radiator refill to the top.

            Now that you have completely installed your new thermostat, your vehicle will stay at operating temperature, run more efficiently, and warm up much faster.  If your vehicle while you did the test overheated, it may be because your coolant line had a big bubble, and the coolant level in the radiator is low.  If your vehicle did not ever get up to operating temperature when you ran your vehicle, then you may have installed your thermostat incorrectly and you will need to remove it and check to see if you did.  You may also have received a bad thermostat, so after you have checked and fixed the incorrectly installed thermostat and the vehicle still did not warm up return the thermostat. 

Written by: Cody Mammenga an NDSCS Student

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