How a Car Thermostat Works

the interior of the front of a car

Owning a vehicle means we have a responsibility to know how the systems work from the car thermostat to the catalytic converter. Knowing how these systems work can go a long way to knowing what is wrong with the car and what is not. The following article will help to shed some light on what a car thermostat is and what it actually does.

Hot and Cold

The car thermostat is meant to keep your car warm and cool. At the same time it keeps your car warm it also keeps the engine cool. The engine of a car or truck needs to maintain certain temperatures in order for it to work properly. If the car thermostat fails to do this then the car can overheat and your mileage can be affected.

Ratings of Temperature

Every car thermostat carries with it a rating which is determined by temperature. You will notice how many different kinds of engines there are as they vary from hybrids and four cylinder to HEMI engines. All of these engines need to be in control of its temperature. A car thermostat is rated by degrees so they can be used to properly cool a car. Before computers it was common to change the car thermostat with the seasons. This entire system is for the purpose of proper engine function.

The Spring Disc

A car thermostat is pretty much identical to all of the others. The materials may vary, but the construction and how they work are all the same. The basic construction consists of two pieces of metal (different metal) that are sandwiched together. These two pieces of metal move against each other when heated which causes them to close or open. A spring holds the discs in place and the discs move as the temperature changes. At a certain point the moving discs will trigger a circuit to either the cooling or heating system of the car. The coolant then flows in the engine and to the heater then radiator for cooling as the water pump enabled flow.

Computer Changes and the Car Thermostat

The parts may have all changed, but the principle action stays the same. The spring discs have been replaced by solenoid valves in some models. The solenoid valves use direct current to control the cooling switch. The flow of the coolant remains unchanged albeit more sophisticated. The coolant line has a sensor which reads the actual temperature which then sends a signal to the computer. The computer then decides if the car thermostat should open for cooling engine or close to warm engine. An independent fan has been added to the radiator to maintain constant temperatures. The end result of these upgrades is a system that is very efficient and precise. A car thermostat, regardless of the technology used, does the same function as it always has and that is to keep the engine temperature in check. Once the car thermostat malfunctions you will notice bad gas mileage and an inconsistent heating and cooling system which will need to be checked.