The Role of Vehicle Thermostats

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The Role of Vehicle Thermostats

The thermostat is part of your cooling system. Littleton residents’ vehicle thermostats perform a similar function to the thermostats in their homes. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on.

Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage. Your vehicle thermostat is a valve between the engine and the radiator. When Littleton residents first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range.

Now vehicle thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a one size fits all proposition. Thermostats are subject to normal wear. Proper operation depends on a special wax that expands as it heats up to open a spring-loaded valve. A worn thermostat could stick in the open position causing the engine to run too cool. This is inefficient and could affect performance and fuel economy. If a thermostat sticks in the closed position, the engine can be subject to the results of overheating.

There isn’t a specific routine for Littleton residents to maintain their vehicle thermostats, but maintaining the cooling system by changing the coolant/antifreeze on schedule will make sure the coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors to protect the thermostat and other system components. Cooling system experts and the team at Dakota Ridge Auto in Littleton recommend replacing your thermostat when you do a coolant flush or exchange. Also, thermostats usually wear out faster than your hoses, so if a worn hose replacement is performed, replace the thermostat at the same time.

If your temperature warning light comes on, have an inspection of your cooling system right away. This could be a thermostat. The thermostat could also be the culprit for Littleton residents who aren’t getting hot air when they turn on their heater.

Vehicle thermostats are a relatively inexpensive part that stands guard between you and catastrophic engine damage. Follow your owner’s manual instructions, or check with your friendly and knowledgeable Dakota Ridge Auto service advisor to see if it’s time for a cooling system inspection or service. Give us a call.

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