Car thermostats are wonderful inventions which are part of the automobile’s cooling system. Its role is to let the engine warm up as quickly as possible by reducing engine wear, deposits, and emissions. As small of a part as it is, you may be surprised to know that its internal mechanism is what allows it to perform its function so brilliantly.
However, a car thermostat isn’t perfect and it does have its structural flaws. It can also suffer damage for a variety of reasons and when this happens, it’ll need to be replaced. Continue reading to find out how a car thermostat works, how to protect the one in your vehicle, and how much a new one costs in case you need to replace it.
What’s the Price of a Car Thermostat?
Car thermostats are relatively inexpensive to replace. Based on prices gathered from various auto parts retailers, the average cost to replace a car thermostat is around $1.31 to $891.11. There are various factors that affect and influence the price, let’s take a look at some of them below.
The brand of the part will make a big difference when it comes to cost. Big names in aftermarket auto parts such as ACDelco, Beck Arnley, Crown, Eurospare, Mopar, and Motorcraft all provide different pricing for car thermostats.
For example, a Beck Arnley engine coolant thermostat for a 2003 Mazda B-Series 2.3L will cost $104.88, but a Motorcraft engine coolant thermostat for a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria will only cost $7.25.
Because many vehicle manufacturers create internal parts differently, the price of a car thermostat will vary depending on what kind of car you drive. The year, make, and model all play a role in deciding the final aftermarket price of the part.
An online or physical retailer can switch up pricing depending on its location. Some states have higher markups than others. When you add all of these factors together, the total amount might be higher than you previously thought.
In order to give you a realistic view of your projected expenses, we’ve calculated the total price to replace a car thermostat including labor fees for several different popular vehicle types:
|2008 Ford F-150||$133|
|2011 Chevrolet Aveo5||$244|
|2005 Saab 9-5||$134|
|2006 Lincoln Navigator||$126|
|2011 Audi Q7||$337|
|2012 Chevrolet Corvette||$146|
Where Can You Get It Replaced?
Finding an auto shop that can handle your car issue, and fast, is essential. A broken car thermostat is a tricky thing that can blow out an engine pretty fast if not diagnosed immediately.
Therefore, you’ll need to identify a good auto shop that’s close to your location which you can bring your car to in emergency situations. The two options that are the most viable for most consumers are independent automotive shops and dealership stores.
To make the right choice of where to bring your vehicle for repair, consider the following information:
- A car under warranty will need to be brought to a dealership in order for you to get the repair done with no charges. Some licensed independent auto stores honor warranties but you’ll need to check with them regarding what exact repairs they’ll cover.
- A car which is out of warranty will rack up higher labor charges at dealerships compared to indie automotive shops.
- Dealerships are guaranteed to fix any issue with their branded cars. Mechanic shops, on the other hand, cannot guarantee anything – although most do have the skills to carry out same-skilled level of repairs. Others will simply refuse a job if it isn’t profitable enough for them.
Based on data gathered from various auto repair establishments, we’ve found the estimated labor cost for a car thermostat to lie between $130 and $277.
For the adventurous and avid do-it-yourselfers among you – rejoice! Replacing a car thermostat is easier than most repair jobs and you should be able to pull it off with little to no hassle. If you’d like to try it yourself without having to visit a mechanic and paying the amount shown above, we’ve created a walkthrough for you to follow. Keep on reading to find the instructions.
What Is A Car Thermostat?
A thermostat in a car is used to disallow coolant from entering the radiator until the engine is warm enough to need it. The device is located between the engine and radiator. It’s a very small part, usually only about 2 inches in diameter. The cooling system in a car only activates when an engine is turned on.
As the engine reaches a temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermostat opens and allows the hot coolant to rush through to the radiator where it cools off before being pumped back towards the engine. Once an engine is shut off and has cooled down enough, it no longer needs the coolant to continue circulating and the thermostat will close.
How exactly does a car thermostat work? It has a small cylinder inside located on the engine-side of the device (as opposed to the radiator side). The cylinder is filled with wax which begins to melt once the surrounding coolant reaches a certain temperature, usually around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the wax changes from solid to a liquid, it expands greatly and pushes a rod out of the cylinder which causes the thermostat valve to open up, thereby allowing the hot coolant to continue its path towards the radiator.
How to Identify a Faulty Car Thermostat?
There are a couple of possible problems that can arise with a car thermostat. Any issues with the device can shorten an engine’s lifespan, cause damage to other parts of the vehicle, and rack up expensive repair fees.
To help you prevent having to spend a truckload of cash for no good reason, we’re here to reveal some of the signs of a malfunctioning car thermostat. Keep a lookout for them when conducting your routine maintenance checks.
Car thermostats can fail in several different ways. They can either become weakened, the cylinder valve can become stuck open or it could even become stuck closed. These problems could all happen as a result of a collision or simply after a long period of time due to wear and tear.
Debris and dirty coolant can play a part in causing the thermostat components to break down and corrode. Weakened thermostats will then fail to efficiently do their job.
If a thermostat gets stuck open, the cooling system will run all the time, even when the engine is already cool and doesn’t need it. When starting from a cold engine, it will take longer for it to get warm when cranking it up.
Ultimately, this will cause an engine’s performance to suffer and result in decreased mileage. The number of toxic emissions that the vehicle produces may also increase.
A worse problem is when the thermostat gets stuck closed. Without a constant supply of circulating coolant to remove heat from the engine, it will soon become so hot that an internal component might explode or the entire vehicle could suddenly fail.
Major damage will be inflicted upon multiple internal parts and you’ll have to spend more money to have those parts repaired. This is why it’s crucial to know the symptoms of a bad car thermostat.
Something that can help you spot the first sign of thermostat trouble is the temperature gauge on the dashboard. If this gauge soars high into the red area within 15 minutes of running the engine, there is definitely something wrong and the car thermostat is the most likely suspect. Shut off the car immediately to avoid overheating.
If you notice that the temperature gauge shows an unusual swing from low to high and vice versa, this is another indication that the car thermostat might be bad. If left alone, engine performance will suffer and driving will be a pain. A valve that’s worn out may become stuck in the future, so it’s best to take care of the problem while you still have time.
The pressure in the cooling system can cause leaking near the thermostat housing in the case of a valve being stuck shut. You’ll easily be able to notice the coolant dripping onto the ground or smell the distinctively sweet odor. As a replacement thermostat is fairly cheap while repairing engine damage can cost thousands of dollars, it’s very important to diagnose and inspect your vehicle often.