How to Replace a Car’s Thermostat: A Step-by-Step Guide

Eagle's Garage may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. This comes at no additional cost to you, and all the prices and availability are accurate at the time of publishing.

If you’re a car owner who enjoys repairing your vehicle at home, replacing the thermostat can be a relatively simple task. This small piece is essential to the engine cooling system and regulates the engine’s temperature. When the thermostat fails, it could result in overheating or failure to reach the desired temperature. This step-by-step guide will show you how to replace your car’s thermostat.

Knowing how to perform simple repairs can save car owners significant money regarding vehicle maintenance. One such task is replacing the thermostat, a crucial cooling system component that regulates the engine’s coolant flow. Malfunctioning thermostats can lead to overheating and severe engine damage. This guide will walk you through replacing a car’s thermostat.

What is a Car Thermostat?

Knowing about the car thermostat and its function is essential to begin the replacement process. The thermostat is a minor component between the engine and radiator that regulates the coolant flow. The thermostat remains closed when cold to warm up the machine quickly. Once the engine reaches the ideal operating temperature, the thermostat opens up to prevent overheating and allow the coolant to flow.

Signs of a Failing Thermostat

A few indicators suggest that your car’s thermostat may require replacement. The most typical sign of a faulty thermostat is overheating. If the thermostat is stuck in a closed position, it will prevent coolant from reaching the engine, causing it to overheat. If the thermostat is stuck open, the engine temperature will fluctuate, causing the temperature gauge to swing wildly. A malfunctioning thermostat can cause the engine to run too hot or too cold, leading to poor fuel efficiency. Finally, coolant may leak from the thermostat itself if the thermostat housing or seal is damaged.

Here is a list of signs to pay attention to:

  1. Overheating: This is the most common sign of a failing thermostat. If the thermostat is stuck closed, it will prevent coolant from reaching the engine, causing it to overheat.
  2. Fluctuating Temperature Gauge: If the thermostat is stuck open, the engine temperature will fluctuate, causing the temperature gauge to swing wildly.
  3. Poor Fuel Efficiency: A malfunctioning thermostat can cause the engine to run too hot or too cold, leading to poor fuel efficiency.
  4. Coolant Leaks: A damaged thermostat housing or seal can cause coolant to leak from the thermostat itself.

Tools and Materials Needed

Before you start, gather the following tools and materials:

  • New thermostat and gasket
  • Screwdriver or wrench set
  • Drain pan
  • Antifreeze
  • Rag or shop towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing a Car’s Thermostat

To replace a car’s thermostat, you can expect to spend anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on your experience and your vehicle’s specific make and model. It’s essential to have the right tools, such as a socket set, pliers, and a scraper, to make the process go smoothly. The cost of doing it yourself can be pretty affordable, ranging from $25 to $70, not including any necessary tools.

When replacing a thermostat, you’ll need to purchase a new thermostat and gasket, typically costing between $15 and $50. Additionally, you’ll need to buy coolant, which can cost around $10 to $20 per gallon. This estimate includes the cost of the necessary parts and materials. However, remember that these are just estimates, and the actual time and cost may vary based on your specific vehicle and location.

Step 1: Locate the Thermostat

The thermostat is typically located at the end of the top radiator hose, where it connects to the engine. Refer to your vehicle’s manual if you’re having trouble finding it.

Step 2: Drain the Coolant

Place a drain pan under the radiator and open the drain valve to let the coolant out. Be sure to dispose of the old coolant properly, as it’s toxic to animals and the environment.

Step 3: Remove the Thermostat Housing

Remove the bolts holding the thermostat housing using a screwdriver or wrench. Be careful not to damage the housing or bolts.

Step 4: Remove the Old Thermostat

Take out the old thermostat and gasket. Note the orientation of the thermostat, as you’ll need to install the new one in the same way.

Step 5: Clean the Thermostat Housing

Clean the inside of the thermostat housing and the engine where the thermostat sits. Remove any remaining gasket material or corrosion.

Step 6: Install the New Thermostat

Place the new thermostat into the engine with the spring side facing into the machine. Install the new gasket.

Step 7: Reattach the Thermostat Housing

Reattach the thermostat housing and tighten the bolts. Refrain from overtightening as this can damage the housing.

Step 8: Refill the Radiator

Close the drain valve and refill the radiator with antifreeze. Start the engine and let it run until it reaches its average operating temperature. Check for leaks and ensure the temperature gauge remains steady.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully replaced your car’s thermostat.

The cost for a mechanic to replace a thermostat can range from $150 to $200, including labor. Replacing a car’s thermostat is a relatively simple task that can save you money in the long run by ensuring your vehicle operates at optimal temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I replace my car’s thermostat?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how often a thermostat should be replaced. As a general guideline, consider replacing it every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. However, if you notice any signs of thermostat failure, such as overheating or fluctuating temperatures, it’s best to replace it immediately.

Can I drive my car with a bad thermostat?

While driving with a malfunctioning thermostat is possible, it’s not recommended. A faulty thermostat can cause your engine to overheat, leading to severe damage and costly repairs. If you suspect your thermostat is failing, it’s best to address it immediately.

How much does it cost to replace a thermostat?

The cost of replacing a thermostat can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. However, if you choose to do it yourself, you can expect to pay between $15 and $50 for a new thermostat and gasket. If you opt for a professional mechanic, the cost can range from $150 to $200, including labor.

What type of thermostat do I need for my car?

The type of thermostat you need depends on your vehicle’s make and model. Refer to your vehicle’s manual or consult a professional to ensure you purchase the correct thermostat.

Can a faulty thermostat affect fuel efficiency?

Yes, a faulty thermostat can affect your car’s fuel efficiency. If the thermostat is stuck open, the engine will run more relaxed, causing it to use more fuel. Conversely, if the thermostat is stuck closed, the machine can overheat, increasing fuel consumption.

How do I know if my car’s thermostat needs replacing?

There are signs that your car’s thermostat may need replacing, such as engine overheating, failure to reach the desired temperature, or coolant leaking. If you notice any of these signs, taking the car to a mechanic for an evaluation is essential.

Can I replace my car’s thermostat myself?

Yes, it is possible to replace your car’s thermostat yourself, as long as you have the necessary tools and are familiar with the engine’s cooling system. However, if you are not comfortable doing this yourself, it is recommended that you take the car to a mechanic.

What happens if I don’t replace my car’s thermostat?

If your car’s thermostat fails, it can cause the engine to overheat or fail to reach the desired temperature. This can lead to engine damage and more expensive repairs in the future. Therefore, replacing your car thermostat when you notice signs of failure is essential.

In conclusion, understanding how to replace your car’s thermostat is a valuable skill that can save you time and money. You can ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and efficiently with the right tools and patience. Always remember to handle car parts carefully and dispose of old coolant responsibly. Happy motoring!

Leave a Comment

Our Best Content In Your Inbox