Tuesday, January 20, 2015

To Thermostat, or not to Thermostat?

 An engine thermostat works during cold engine starts. It has a valve that prevents the water/coolant to flow in the radiator when the engine has not reached it's normal operating temperature yet, therefore helping it warm up. Once it reaches the normal operating temperature, the thermostat opens up and lets the water circulate.

I don't know about you, but in my circle of car guy friends a large percentage of them have already removed the thermostat completely from their engines. I have always had this debate in my head why this is and if it's advisable to do so. It was a bitter-sweet feeling when recently, Ace put me in a situation that would help me come to a conclusion. My engine thermostat gave out. Major suckage.   

It happened right after I had the radiator cleaned (tried Lavramon) in Sucat. I was driving home, listening to Mariah Carey songs, all smiles with my newly cleaned radiator, when my eyes locked on my temperature. It was so high that it almost touched the red line. I believe my exact words were, "#@$% ^&*#@!!!" So I had no choice but to drive it back to the shop.  

We found out that the thermostat is stuck closed, clogging the water way, therefore making the engine overheat. My mechanic's solution was just to remove the thermostat completely. He said it wouldn't cause any harm to the engine except for the fact that it would take more time for it to warm up and reach it's normal operating temperature. It was already 5 PM and all auto-supply shops are already closed. So even though I was reluctant, I had no choice but to give him the green light. So now, Ace is running thermostat-less.

Honda Accord Thermostat
Although I trust my mechanic and although Ace is running fine without a thermostat, it still bothered me knowing that my engine is missing a part. So I decided to ask a handful of my car gurus. Should I have a thermostat? Or should I ditch it completely too? Here's what I gathered...

"You crazy? You need a thermostat. Because..."
*You risk running the engine cold or below it's normal operating temperature.
*A cold engine would be on high RPM so it would be burning fuel inefficiently.
*The internal components in a cold engine would not have expanded. It won't be as snug as it should be making it "bang" against the other components. Contributing to engine wear.
*Cold engine = cold engine oil. Cold engine oil is thicker than it should be. It won't be doing it's job efficiently.


"You DON'T need a thermostat man! Because..."
*In our warm Philippine climate, car engines warm up quickly. You would be wasting fuel on idle warming up the engine. Mahal ang gas.
*It only works on cold starts. An engine can definitely run without it.

I was stumped. But after reading up, I came up with a conclusion/compromise...

I shall install a new thermostat soon. I think both sides of the argument is correct. But I'm one of those drivers who are firm believers in warming up an engine before using it. Because I don't know if it's only on "aged" engines, but I can definitely feel the engine dragging when I drive it below the normal operating temperature. It feels really heavy. And without a thermostat, it takes Ace approximately 10 minutes to reach it's normal operating temp, where he's light and responsive to drive. So imagine how much fuel I'm wasting on idle to get that.

Having a thermostat installed helps in using fuel efficiently, and me likey. And if the engine wear statement is actually true, then it's a bonus right? The engine would reach it's normal operating temperature sooner. And last but definitely not the least... the car manufacturer put it there for a reason, right?

So that's just me and my very un-expert opinion. :)

What do you think? Which side are you on?


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