Symptoms Of A Bad Thermostat & How Much It’ll Cost You To Fix?

A car thermostat is a basic yet crucial part of an engine. Its function is to regulate coolant flow so that the engine can stay at the right temperature under a variety of circumstances.

The thermostat would typically be in what is referred to as a “stuck open” or “stuck closed” situation if the component were to fail. Damage to the engine is possible in both situations, but particularly in the latter. The fundamental duties of a thermostat are discussed here, along with typical signs of a malfunctioning thermostat and the typical cost of a replacement thermostat.

The Mechanism of a Car Thermostat

An automobile thermostat’s primary job is to regulate how much coolant enters the engine. The thermostat will be closed when you start your automobile after it has been sitting. The motor of your car will heat up as you drive.

The thermostat opens as a result, allowing coolant to run directly through the engine. In this manner, the engine will be cooled off and kept from overheating.

The thermostat will, however, is likely to stay closed if you keep your automobile engine running while you’re parked, because it takes longer for it to reach operating temperature while it’s just idling (versus driving).

A coolant temperature sensor that measures the engine’s operating temperature informs a functioning thermostat when it is appropriate to open. Because the engine has to be constantly cooled off by the coolant while you drive, the thermostat is typically open for the most of the time. This keeps the engine’s temperature normal, which aids in preserving the level of performance.

Of course, external factors might also have an impact on the engine’s temperature. A prime illustration of this is the temperature of the area you live in. The temperature outside i.e., how hot or how cold it is has a significant impact on whether the thermostat is open or closed. However, if your thermostat is operating properly, it will be able to determine when to carry out either action.

Symptoms of a Bad Thermostat

Your engine’s functioning will be hampered if your car’s thermostat breaks. Fortunately, you will notice several signs that are simple to identify when this occurs.

If your thermostat turns out to be broken or starts to leak, it’s your responsibility to repair it right away. The longer your engine is overheated, the more likely it is to sustain permanent damage.

Here are 5 of the most typical symptoms of a malfunctioning thermostat in your car.

1. Temperature Gauge Reading Above (Or Below) Normal

If the automobile has been resting for some time before you start it, the temperature gauge’s needle should be on the cold side. The temperature gauge will typically slowly increase as you drive until it reaches the ideal operating temperature, which is roughly halfway up the gauge.

The thermostat won’t open when it’s jammed closed, which will stop coolant from entering the engine. This implies that your thermometer will continue to increase until it reaches the Hot end of the gauge. The longer you drive, if you keep driving after that, the greater the likelihood of engine damage. Because of this, it’s crucial to always pay attention to the engine temperature indicator. It’s a good idea to pull over so the engine can cool down as soon as you detect the temperature rising over what it typically does.

You’ll note that the temperature needle rises considerably more slowly than usual when the thermostat is jammed open, and it probably stops before reaching the gauge’s typical midpoint. If you see this, try turning your heater up; if warm air doesn’t come out of the vents, your thermostat is probably damaged.

2. Unexpected changes in the vehicle’s interior temperature

One sign that you frequently experience is a rapid shift in the temperature of the air inside your car. It could begin by rapidly decreasing to a very low temperature before abruptly rising to a very high one.

It’s likely that there is a problem with the thermostat if there is any fluctuation in the air temperature that doesn’t correspond to your existing HVAC settings.

3. Fluid Leakage

It most likely stays closed due to a malfunctioning thermostat. This implies that the closed thermostat will prevent coolant from entering the engine while the engine is operating at a high temperature and the coolant typically flows toward it. As a result, the thermostat housing will get overfilled with coolant.

Your coolant hoses will leak next if the situation continues and nothing is done to correct it. Simply looking beneath your car can reveal whether you have a leaking coolant. You know you have a coolant leak if you notice greenish or reddish liquid dripping from your car and coloring the ground below.

4. Groaning sounds

You will start hearing unusual rumbling noises as well, as if temperature swings weren’t horrible enough. Your radiator, engine, or both may be making these noises. The sound could also have the appearance of banging, boiling, or bubbling. Basically, if you’re experiencing one or the other symptoms listed above in addition to the weird noises mentioned above, you most likely have a thermostat issue.

5. Heater Not Working

This implies that even when the engine doesn’t require it, it will continue to allow coolant to flow into the engine. Therefore, even if you turn up the heater temperature all the way inside the car while the thermostat is open, chilly air will still stream out of the HVAC vents. You won’t experience the heat you need, to warm up.

Cost of Replacement Car Thermostat

The good news for individuals who have a broken thermostat is that replacing it won’t set you back a lot of money as it is quite inexpensive. Naturally, the precise price will vary depending on the type and model of your car. 

The thermostat unit itself typically costs $20 to $80, however it may cost more for premium or performance vehicles. Many automobile owners attempt to cut costs by replacing the thermostat on their own. You should hire a pro to replace the thermostat in your automobile unless you have a lot of experience working on cars, the thermostat is easy to access, and you have a solid repair manual to follow.

After all, your car might also have a different issue. You should hire a specialist so they can identify the issue before changing the thermostat.

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