At Autoworks in Ithaca, we’re not only here to fix your car when something goes wrong...we’re here to help you understand your car, truck, or SUV a little better, too. Here are some tips concerning your thermostat - how it works, what to watch out for, and what to do about it when one fails.
The thermostat is a small, simple component, with a very important job. The thermostat is situated in line with the flow of coolant throughout your engine. It is spring-loaded and made of specifically calibrated metals, which bend and expand as they heat up, opening the thermostat to allow coolant flow to other parts of the engine, once the engine has achieved operating temperature.
The purpose of the thermostat is to regulate engine temperature. Without it, the engine won’t heat fast enough, causing carbon buildup, excessive engine wear, decreased gas mileage, and substantially decreased heater efficiency on cold days. When one malfunction, overheating of the engine will occur. If you notice rapid fluctuations in engine temperature, such as a gauge that reads very hot then suddenly cools down, it’s likely you have a sticking thermostat. If the thermostat completely fails, the engine temperature may continue to climb until serious damage is done.
As always, if you notice your engine is running too hot, pull over and shut it off before major damage can occur. This is one case where a neglected 5 dollar part can cost you an entire engine.
There’s a straightforward way to test whether or not your thermostat is the culprit. If the car gets hot, or after it reaches normal operating temperature and has been there a while, shut the engine off and pop the hood. Keep fingers, hands, and clothing away from the cooling fans, which can engage without warning. Carefully check to see if the whole radiator is hot to the touch and that both big radiator hoses are hot or warm. Be aware that these parts may be very hot, so proceed with caution. If either hose is cool to the touch, your thermostat is the most likely culprit. Have the car towed if necessary, or driven a short-range after the engine cools down, with a close eye on the temperature gauge.
If you’re having thermostat issues, or have any other maintenance and repair needs, have one of our technicians take a look. Our team of expert mechanics has the knowledge, equipment, and ability necessary to service any type of vehicle. For the best auto repair and maintenance shop in Ithaca, call or stop by Autoworks today.
Thank you for visiting Autoworks in Ithaca, NY. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.