How Does a Car Thermostat Work?

A Car Thermostat is small (easily fits in your hand), but it performs a big job. It controls the flow of hot coolant from your car’s engine to the radiator. This allows your engine to work in a small operating temperature range of about 195-220F. When the coolant reaches the top of that temperature range, the thermostat opens allowing the hot coolant to flow from the engine to the radiator through the upper radiator hose and be replaced by lower temperature coolant from the lower radiator hose to the engine. Now that we’ve covered what a car Thermostat does, let’s look at how.

How Does a Car Thermostat Work?

Your car’s thermostat is a type of wax motor, specifically a wax thermostatic element. It transforms heat energy into mechanical energy using the thermal expansion of waxes when they melt. This mechanical energy is used to open the thermostat and allow coolant to flow. As the hot coolant is replaced by lower temperature coolant, the wax solidifies and contracts, closing the thermostat and giving the engine time to heat the coolant again. This process repeats over and over as long as your engine is running.

What happens if your thermostat fails?

If your thermostat gets stuck open, your engine may not be able to get up to operating temperature. If your car’s engine temperature is too low, fuel economy suffers and harmful exhaust emissions rise.

On the other hand, if it sticks closed your car may overheat. Getting too hot for too long will cause engine damage. So, having a properly working thermostat is pretty important!

If you watch your temperature gauge closely, you may be able to see the needle move slightly as the thermostat does it’s job. If the temperature gauge is higher or lower than normal, it may be time to have your cooling system checked by a qualified mechanic. (Hopefully here at Ed’s Auto Repair in Mesa)

Ed’s BnB Auto Repair is always ready to help. Give us a call and we’ll discuss your options. You can also use the Book Appointment button to schedule an appointment. 

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