Engine Thermostat Replacement Cost in 2023​

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POPULAR VEHICLES

National average cost of a an Engine Thermostat Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost

$50

What is an engine thermostat and how does it work?

The thermostat in your engine is responsible for regulating the temperature of the cooling system. In order for your engine to run efficiently, it needs to operate within a specific heat range. Heating up is easy, since the combustion process gives off a good deal of heat. To prevent overheating, engine coolant (antifreeze) is circulated through the engine block to pick up some of that heat and send it to the radiator where it dissipates into the atmosphere. The coolant returns to the engine at a lower temperature to pick up more heat and do it all over again in a near-constant cycle.

If the coolant, however, is allowed to circulate continuously, too much engine heat can be lost. Heat that is necessary for proper engine function. Therefore, the thermostat serves as a valve to close off the passage of coolant. It controls the amount of coolant that cycles through your engine by opening and closing. It opens when the temperature falls to a certain level, and it opens back up when the temperature rises to another designated level. Most engines prefer to operate somewhere between 195 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

The thermostat itself is made up of a wax-filled cylinder that forces the thermostat open as the wax melts and allows the thermostat to close as the wax cools and hardens.

COMMON SYMPTOMS

How do I know if my engine thermostat needs to be replaced?

When a car thermostat fails, you will likely notice one or more symptoms. The most concerning among them is an overheating engine.

If the thermostat valve is stuck closed, the coolant will not be able to leave the engine and make its way to the radiator. A bad thermostat is not the only cause of engine overheating, but when the thermostat sticks closed, your engine will likely overheat. You can tell if your engine is getting too hot by observing the temperature gauge on the dashboard. You might also notice steam coming from underneath the hood and the syrupy smell of coolant as it escapes into the air. (Warning - do not attempt to remove the radiator cap or coolant expansion tank lid if your engine is overheating, otherwise you could suffer a severe scalding injury from the steam). You could see fluid leaking on the ground under the engine as well. The check engine light might also come on as an indication.

Another sign of a bad thermostat is that the temperature gauge falls too low. You might not notice this sign so easily. You are more likely to find out that the thermostat is stuck open on a cool day when the heater inside the passenger compartment fails to produce warm air. You might also detect a drop in fuel efficiency.

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HOW IS THIS SERVICE PERFORMED?

How is a an Engine Thermostat Replacement done?

Your engine must cool down completely for a technician to replace the thermostat. That means it needs to sit for at least half an hour before the service is performed. Once the engine is cool, the following steps are typically taken:

  • The radiator cap is loosened and a valve on the bottom of the radiator is opened in order to allow the level of the coolant to drop below that of the thermostat location
  • The thermostat housing is unbolted from the engine and removed along with its gasket
  • Any old gasket residue is scraped off of the mounting surface on the engine and from the housing
  • A fresh gasket is applied and the new thermostat is inserted into its mounting location
  • The housing bolts are torqued to manufacturer’s specifications
  • The cooling system is refilled with the proper coolant type, and trapped air in the system is bled
  • Your engine is started and allowed to run until it reaches normal operating temperature
  • The coolant level and coolant flow are verified

Other questions customers ask

What happens when a car thermostat goes bad?
A bad car thermostat can cause one of two problems. If it sticks open, too much coolant circulates through your engine and prevents it from reaching its optimum operating temperature. If the thermostat sticks closed, your engine will overheat. That is a big problem that can lead to catastrophic engine failure if not addressed quickly.
Can I drive with a bad thermostat?
It is not recommended that you drive with a bad thermostat. The engine will still operate - for a while. But you will lose fuel efficiency. You might lose heat from the vents in the passenger compartment. And, most importantly, your engine can overheat and leave you stranded with significant engine damage. A bad thermostat should be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent engine overheating.
How many thermostats does a car have?
Most passenger car and light truck engines feature a single thermostat to regulate engine temperature. Some, however, employ both a primary and a secondary thermostat that have different temperature profiles. A technician might recommend that, if your engine has two thermostats, they both be replaced. Of course, all vehicles have another thermostat - apart from the one(s) on the engine - that controls the climate inside the passenger compartment.

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