The thermostat in your vehicle's cooling system acts as a gatekeeper, regulating the flow of coolant between the engine and the radiator. Its primary function is to ensure that the engine operates within the ideal temperature range, preventing it from overheating or running too cold. By controlling the coolant flow, the thermostat allows the motor to reach its full potential while running at a stable temperature. That way, you can enjoy your drives and not worry about breakdowns.
How Does It Work?
When the engine temperature is cold, the thermostat stays closed to prevent coolant from going into the engine. When the engine is too hot, the thermostat opens to let coolant circulate throughout the engine. Over time, the thermostat can fail from staying stuck in one position (open or close). It can also become corroded and damaged with age.
Here are some of the keys signs to look out for that may indicate a failing thermostat:
- Temperature Fluctuations - You may notice that the temperature needle jumps from hot to cold or fluctuates between extreme ranges. These fluctuations indicate that the thermostat is not functioning properly and is unable to maintain a consistent temperature.
- Engine Overheating - When the thermostat fails to open and close as it should, the coolant flow may be restricted or blocked entirely. This lack of coolant circulation prevents the engine from cooling properly, leading to overheating issues.
- Inefficient Heating or Cooling - If the thermostat is stuck in the open position, it can prevent the engine from reaching the ideal operating temperature, resulting in reduced heater performance. On the other hand, if the thermostat is stuck closed, it restricts the flow of coolant to the radiator, leading to poor cooling performance.
- Low Fuel Efficiency - When the engine runs colder than necessary due to a faulty thermostat, it causes the engine to run in a less efficient mode.
- Check Engine Light On - Modern vehicles are equipped with sensors that monitor the engine temperature, and when they detect irregularities caused by a failing thermostat, they send a cue to the onboard computer system, prompting the check engine light to activate.
Ignoring the signs of a faulty thermostat can lead to major engine damage, increased fuel consumption, and discomfort during your drives. If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs, please bring your vehicle to Ripley's Total Car Care for an inspection.
Our trained technicians are well-versed in diagnosing thermostat issues and providing top-notch cooling system repairs. Don't let a failing thermostat compromise your driving experience, and give us a call or visit whenever you need help fixing your thermostat!