So Long Mechanical Thermostat!

Since the first liquid cooled engines, a mechanical thermostat has been responsible for maintaining a consistent operating temperature in your vehicle. Now, however, the traditional spring driven thermostat’s days are numbered. As more and more automakers switch to integrated housing thermostats, traditional automotive thermostats are getting phased out for these newer designs.

What is it All About?

Modern thermostats are far more precise than the ones in the past. This is because they are increasingly computer controlled. The way traditional thermostats work is by using a heat sensitive spring to open the thermostat for coolant to flow through. If you look at a thermostat, you will see the spring. As the coolant in the engine heats up, the spring expands. This will eventually cause it to open. The point at which it opens is the thermostat’s temperature rating and will depend on the vehicle in question.

What’s New?

With traditional thermostats you can make your car run hotter or cooler by switching out the thermostat. Not so anymore. Now the thermostat is controlled by the car’s ECU and opens when the computer tells it to. The good news here is that it eliminates the most common cause of failure, a failed spring. As the spring wears out, it will take longer and longer to open until it stops working altogether. With the new electronically controlled models there is no spring to fail, only a servo.

What Does This Mean For Me?

For you, the consumer, this will make very little difference in your day to day life. It will increase the reliability of your vehicle’s cooling system, but you will likely not notice the difference since it is bad changes that people tend to notice.

The one area where it will make a difference is in repairs. If you do them yourself, then you will need to make certain that you know where the thermostat is on your vehicle and that you get the correct part. These newer thermostats will likely cost a bit more than you are used to paying for a thermostat, but when you consider how much longer they last, it is an acceptable tradeoff.

As car technology continues to evolve more and more mechanical functions are being replaced with electronically controlled components. These are more precise and usually more reliable as well.

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