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Top Signs Your Thermostat Needs to be Replaced

The thermostat is a vital component of any vehicle that has two primary functions. First, it helps the car warm up more quickly so that it can run efficiently. Second, the thermostat is designed to keep the temperature of the vehicle the same, regardless of what the actual temperature is. Knowing the important functions of a thermostat makes it easy to understand how vital it is to recognize the signs that it needs to be replaced.

The Vehicle Overheats - The number one sign of a thermostat that needs to be replaced is that the vehicle overheats. Of course, this doesn't happen immediately since it takes some time for the engine to warm up. Once your car warms up sufficiently -- if your thermostat is not doing its job -- it will overheat within a few minutes.

Unusual Noises - Another sign that your thermostat needs to be replaced is if you hear unusual noises coming from under the hood. Sounds that should alert you to a thermostat failure include rumbling, boiling and/or gurgling. You might also hear a knocking sound like that of a steam pipe.

Your Car Runs Hot - It's important to make the distinction between a vehicle that runs hot and one that overheats. Just because your vehicle is running hot, doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to overheat. Instead, it could be that the issue is your thermostat is closed part of the way. Regardless, your thermostat likely needs to be replaced.

Your Heater Isn't Working - Another sign that your thermostat needs to be replaced is that your heater isn't working properly. This is generally because the thermostat is sticking in the open position.

Even if your car isn't overheating -- which necessitates an emergency and needs to be looked at right away -- the above signs mean you should consider replacing your thermostat as soon as possible. Doing so means fewer headaches for you as well as a car that works better and more efficiently. A good rule is to inspect the thermostat operation in the fall of the year before entering the cold weather of winter. The thermostat should be looked as an item that is serviced along with normal cooling system maintenance.