How To Test the Thermostat in your Car to See if it is Operating Normally

A thermostat is basically a device that is used to regulate the temperature of a system in order to maintain temperature at a certain level. When it comes to car engines, a thermostat keeps coolant in the engine until it reaches a certain temperature. Upon reaching the maximum temperature, the thermostat opens and lets the water flow through to the radiator for cooling. Having a broken thermostat might result in overheating or inadequate heating to the engine of your car. If you think that the thermostat is causing your car to overheat, then it is best to have it removed or replaced. Know how to test the thermostat in your car to see if it is operating normally, and if not, determine the source of the problem.

  • Remove the thermostat from your car. Open the hood look for the hoses between the radiator and the engine. The thermostat is typically situated inside a hose sandwiched between the engine and the radiator. Unbolt the thermostat and completely take it off the vehicle using a socket wrench set. Check if the rated temperature of the thermostat is indicated. This will usually be near the boiling point of water.
  • Heat the thermostat in a pot of water. Prepare a pot of water where you can place the thermostat. Remember that most thermostat models are made to function at just below boiling point, because this is usually the temperature at which an engine overheats. Slowly begin to heat the thermostat. The key point here is to keep an eye on the thermostat as the water is heating.
  • Watch the thermostat. Here is the catch: before the water starts to boil, watch if the thermostat will open or not. If the thermostat’s hole opens, this means it is operating properly. A failed or broken thermostat, on the other hand, will not open. You will know if it is working when it opens so as if to let water flow through the into the engine and radiator.
  • Use a flashlight when needed. If there is no sufficient light you can use a flashlight to check the thermostat. You will notice that the opening become fuller as the heat goes up.
  • Replace the thermostat if needed. If you suspect a failed thermostat is causing your car's engine to overheat, then you can have it replaced. It may be best for you to have it replaced with a new one, although your car will still run properly even without a thermostat installed.
  • Let the thermostat cool if it is operating. If the thermostat opened during your test, then there is no need to replace it. Let the device sit in the pan for a while in order to gently cool it down before replacing it into the engine.

Your car will run normally without a thermostat, so you can easily run to the auto parts store or garage to buy a new one. However, during winter months, your engine might take a long time to reach proper operating temperature. Also, your car’s heater will not work properly, as the engine cannot provide enough heat to warm the interior.


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