Testing a Car Thermostat without Removing It
The purpose of the thermostat is to slowly open as your vehicle heats up to allow coolant to flow keeping your engine cool. There are two malfunctions that indicate the thermostat is not operating correctly. One is the failure of the vehicle to heat up to operating temperature even if running for a good amount of time. This is caused by an open thermostat. The other is the vehicle heating up to high degree possibly to the danger zone on your gauge or causing a warning light to activate on your dashboard. This is usually a result of a thermostat stuck in the closed position.
If you suspect a faulty thermostat, there is a test that can indicate whether to install a new replacement before you take your vehicle for service or start removing the old gasket only to find this is not the problem.
After the vehicle has been parked with the engine off and the engine is cold, remove the radiator cap. Start the engine and look into the radiator. The thermostat should be closed because the engine is cold. You should not see any movement of water and coolant at this time. If you notice immediate flowing in the radiator, the thermostat is faulty. In around ten minutes, the engine should be warm and there should be flowing of coolant. Don’t let the engine overheat which may cause costly repairs. As soon as it becomes obvious there is no flow in the radiator, shut down and let cool down. The thermostat is stuck in the closed position.
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