How Do You Know If You Have A Faulty Thermostat In Your Car?
You don't have to know much about how a car operates to appreciate that your engine needs a sufficient amount of coolant to work correctly. After all, the internal temperature can rise to an incredible level, and if the coolant is not regulated, bigger problems are ahead. Yet you may not know about one simple device that sits at the centre of the cooling process. Why should you be aware of your vehicle's thermostat and know what to do should something go wrong?
How Things Work
Once the coolant has circulated in and around the engine block, it will have absorbed a great deal of heat. A pumping system will then push it through pipes to your forward-facing radiator, where it will be exposed to the passing air. Thankfully, the radiator is highly efficient, and all of that heat will dissipate so that the coolant can be pushed back to the engine once again to restart the cycle.
The Job of the Thermostat
A small chamber that holds the thermostat is placed in between the radiator and the engine block. This thermostat is essentially a simple valve that can open or close according to temperature. It will sense the coolant temperature and will direct it through the system as appropriate.
If you've just started the engine and it is cold, the thermostat will remain closed so that the motor can come up to the correct operating temperature as quickly as possible. The thermostat is also responsible for directing warm water through to your cabin heating system on those cold days.
The average thermostat is quite a hardy device and can be expected to last a long time. However, it can sometimes stick in the open or closed position, and this can certainly cause problems with normal operation.
Should the thermostat stick in the closed position, your engine will overheat as it will not get the required dose of coolant. If the thermostat sticks in the other position, your engine will not be able to meet its required operating temperature, leading to poor efficiency and issues with emissions.
What You Should Do
If you get a warning on your dashboard to tell you that your vehicle is overheating, take action. A mechanic may find that your thermostat is faulty and needs to be changed. Still, you can always take the vehicle in for any scheduled car service, and the technician will have a pre-emptive look at the entire cooling system.