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How Does a Car Thermostat Work?

While you might not need a thermometer to determine it is hot outside, you will undoubtedly want access to one to know if your engine is overheating or not. The thermostat in your car will work a bit differently than your household thermometer. It responds to fluctuations in temperature by opening and closing to allow coolant to flow to the engine when necessary.

How Does It Work?

Your car's thermostat is filled with wax. This allows it to stay in close contact with the coolant that is moving through your engine. When the temperature in the engine begins to rise, the coolant will get hotter as well. This will melt the wax, which will, in turn, put the rod attached to the thermometer outward. This will enable the coolant to flow freely when necessary.

When you start your car after it has been sitting for a long time, the thermometer will naturally be in its closed position. This is because you need the engine to warm up a bit in order to get started. The lack of coolant will allow it to do exactly that. Once the temperature rises sufficiently, the thermometer will begin to do its thing and let the engine cool. If it is not working, then your engine will eventually overheat.

How Do You Know When it Should be Replaced?

There are some indicators that the thermometer in your car needs to be replaced.

  • The engine is overheating - If you notice that your engine is getting hot and not cooling down, then the likely culprit is your thermometer not allowing the coolant to flow as it should.
  • The engine is underheating - The opposite is also true. If the thermostat becomes stuck, then coolant will always be flowing to the engine even when it is not necessary. This is not always a good thing.
  • The engine performs poorly - The thermostat is designed to help the engine function properly at just the right temperature. If you notice it start to sputter and the performance fails, you will want to look at the thermostat.

If you need to have the thermostat in your car replaced, just bring it down to our auto repair shop today so that we can help you.