How to Install a Car’s Thermostat

How to install a new thermostat on your car. It deals with the location, removal, and replacement process.

One of the smallest and most needed parts of your car’s cooling system is the thermostat. Most car thermostats can be hidden in a man’s closed fist. If this small part fails in its closed setting, you will be stranded somewhere along the side of the road with steam flowing from your engine. If it fails in the open position, your car will never get warm in the winter. Either way, it is best to just replace that thermostat every couple of years when you replace the upper radiator hose on you car.

For specific details about your car, you may need to consult your maintenance manual. For most cars, the thermostat is easy to locate. Sometimes, it can be a little tough to get out of the engine because of hoses and other things that may be installed on your car. These things can shield easy access to the thermostat until you remove them. The way to find the thermostat on nearly all cars is to follow the upper radiator hose from the radiator to where it attaches to the engine.

Usually, the piece that sticks up to anchor the hose is part of the housing that covers the car’s thermostat. You need to inspect this housing carefully and determine where all of the bolts that hold it place are located. Most thermostat housings are held in place with two bolts. Some may have 3 or 4. If you can easily access all of the bolts, there is no reason to remove anythng else.

Purchase the thermostat at the autoparts store ahead of time. A gasket should come with the thermostat. If it does not, you will want to purchase one of these, two. Some people like to use adhesive to bond the gasket in place, but it usually is not necessary.

Having located the thermostat and secured a clear access to the housing and bolts, it is time to start removing the old thermostat. Remove the bolts from the engine. Take care not to lose the bolts. Also, as you remove them, make sure that you note if there are any differences from one bolt to the next. They are almost all just alike, but one in a while, you will find some are longer or shorter than the others.

After the bolts are removed, grip the housing and work it loose. Some coolant will spill when you raise this housing away from the engine. This is normal, and there is really no good way to capture it. Make sure to hose it off of hard surfaces when you finish the job. This antifreeze is deadly to pets and wildlife.

You should now be able to see the top of the thermostat. It will usually be brass or bronze in color. Pull the old thermostat from the engine. It will usually not look like its bad, but do not be fooled. Throw this away. Using a scraper, remove any left over gasket pieces from the housing and the engine. This needs to be bare metal for the new gasket to seal.

Drop the new thermostat into place. Lay the gasket over the rim of the seat for the thermostat. The holes on the gasket should line up with the holes on the motor. If they do not, you either have the gasket on the wrong way or have the wrong gasket. Put the housing back in place and replace the bolts.

Tighten the bolts down until they are very snug. Do not try to prove your strength because they can be twisted off. Once everything is in place and tight, it is time to replace any lost coolant and start the car. Leave the hood up so you can check for leaks. Let it run until it reaches operating temperature. If you do not see any leaks and your car seems to be running alright, you should be finished. All that is left is to clean up and put away the tools.

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