The thermostat is part of the cooling system in your vehicle. This system is made up of parts like the radiator, fan, belts, hoses, water pump, and more. This system recycles the water throughout the engine compartment, so there is a continual flow of fluids keeping the engine cool.
If the engine is running too hot, then the thermostat opens up and allows more coolant to reach the engine. If the engine is running too cold, the thermostat stays closed.
Here are a few things you might notice if your thermostat is failing:
Overheating – If the temperature gauge is rising on your dashboard, your engine is overheating. A thermostat stuck in the closed position will prevent hot coolant to cycle through. You run the risk of destroying your engine if you continue to run it hot.
Underheating – A thermostat stuck open will allow for a continuous flow of coolant running into the engine. This means the engine will never reach its optimum running temperature, so your fuel efficiency will deteriorate.
Engine Temperature Fluctuations – This happens when the thermostat opens and closes at will. The temperature gauge will be inaccurate, and it will be difficult to determine if the engine is operating properly.
Engine Performance – When the thermostat is operating properly, the engine is at its peak performance level. If the thermostat starts to fail, you may notice a loss of fuel efficiency before you notice fluctuating temperatures.
Do Not Ignore a Failing Thermostat
The engine in your vehicle is at its best between 195 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises above that, the fuel does not combust properly. This can result in engine knock as the engine tries to perform at a higher temperature. This can cause significant damage to rings, rod bearings, and pistons.
If you notice any issues with your temperature, check your thermostat to see if it is working. You can do this by carefully removing the radiator cap and starting your engine so it idles. Look into the filler neck of the radiator. You should see coolant flowing once the engine reaches the proper temperature. If not, then your thermostat is stuck closed. If you see coolant flowing before the engine is at the right temperature, the thermostat is stuck open.
If you are not confident checking the thermostat yourself, then have a professional technician check it. They will be able to diagnose any problems within your cooling system.