Drive A Car Without a Thermostat: All You Need to Know

You might have been opposing various views whether or not to drive without a thermostat. The thermostat has this amazing feature to keep the engine cool every time it gets hot. So running a car with no thermostat has its own consequences that every driver must know. Let’s discover what will happen!

Before we answer the question of “is it okay to take the thermostat out of my car”, let’s learn a bit about the car thermostats.

What are Car Thermostats?

Car thermostats are the small device that sits between the radiator and the engine of a liquid-cooled car. The thermostat in most cars is about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and play an important role in the car which is to regulate the flow of the engine coolant from the engine to the radiator. When it is closed, the coolant cannot flow into the radiator which can lead to a rapid increase in engine temperature. And when it is opened at about 200 degrees F, engine coolant flows into the radiator where it dissipates heat and cools the now-hot coolant. By letting the engine warm up as quickly as possible, the thermostat reduces engine wear, deposits and emissions.

As we mentioned above, the working principle of a car thermostat is really simple, yet it is an impressive component of a car. If you have a chance to test it, you will soon realize it seems impossible. You can put one in a pot of boiling water on the stove. As it heats up, its valve opens about an inch, apparently by magic! If you’d like to try this yourself, go to a car parts store and buy one for a couple of bucks.

This is a simple introduction about the car thermostat, now let’s move on to the consequences of running a car with no thermostat. 

What You Need to Know When Running a Car with no Thermostat?

Running a car with no thermostat is not a great idea as you may face numerous consequences of it. In addition, the total performance of the car gets affected if the thermostat is detached:

1. The Coolant

The thermostat is a simple valve located between the radiator and engine.

As we already know, the major purpose of the thermostat is to maintain the engine at the proper temperature. The radiator runs to the entire engine and keeps it cool with the help of coolants. When the thermostat is detached, the engine remains cool as the radiator is moved to it quickly into the system. A normal car engine is meant to run in eighty to hundred degree centigrade temperatures. When running the car without a thermostat, it runs at 50o C temperature. At this temperature, the humidity gets packed in and condensed, which blend with the oil and results in slush. This leads to the situation that the slush blocks lubrication and the entire system wears out. For that reason, running a car with no thermostat is destroying vehicle performance.

2. Engine Parts

It is essential for drivers to heat the engine first, since starting a cold engine results in parts to wear out. Life of the engine minimizes quickly as the bad components are not isolated from the oil. The engine undergoes the closed loop procedure when the engine is beyond a particular temperature. If the temperature doesn’t increase, the engine will choke and stop ultimately.

In fact, the heater will produce the cold air as well. Secondly, there is a chance that the water will flow through the radiator so fast that it will not stay in the radiator long enough to cool down, which will make your  engine overheat.

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However, depending on the age of the car, running a car with no thermostat can burn more fuel as ECM (engine control module) would think that the engine is still in its cool state and need to start up. The ECU tunes the performance parameters based on real time readings at the intake, the combustion chamber, the exhaust, and the catalytic converters.

So, in order for the ECU to control the fuel/air mixture, timing, shift point, etc… all the sensors need to be running within a specified range. The range varies by manufacturer and you would have to look them up for your vehicle. If you run your car without the thermostat, some of the required temperatures aren’t met, forcing the ECU to balance the emissions on a “cold engine” all the time, even though it’s been running all day.

3. Thermostat Replacement

The bad thermostat can ruin the entire vehicle. The regular replacement of the thermostat will help you maintain the entire working of the car. The engine will reach its optimal temperature and the entire system will work properly.

Therefore, thermostat removal is harmful to your car and its components in every possible way.

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Solution for the Lack of Heat

Lack of heat can be treated by placing a large cardboard in front of the radiator. It must be located somewhere in between the car grill and the radiator. This method averts the radiator to cool down the entire system by reducing the cold air blowing. It might even treat that cold air issue from the heater too. But, while pursuing this method keep your eyes on the temperature gauze so that the engine doesn’t overheat. If the temperature hikes too much, abort the operation and remove the board. So, use this method whenever you think- can a car run without a thermostat?

So can you travel far with no heat in the vehicle – Is it worth it? 

How to Drive A Car Without A Thermostat

You should never run a car without a thermostat but what if you have to? Is there any safe way to help you? Here is the method for running a car with no thermostat. 

If you drive without a thermostat, your engine will never reach its optimal operating temperature and your heater may blow cold air. If you live in a warm climate, this should not be a problem. So when your car lacks heat, you can place a large piece of cardboard in front of the radiator and between the radiator and the car’s grill. It will help to keep cold air from blowing across your radiator and further cooling your car. When using the cardboard method, be sure to keep an eye on your temperature gauge, to insure that your car engine does not overheat. If the temperature gauge starts to creep too high, simply stop and remove the cardboard.

The decrease in gas mileage or performance is usual to see, so do not panic! It happens because driving without a thermostat tricks your engine into thinking it is cold outside, causing it to adjust the gas mixing valve and push more fuel to the engine. Keep a close eye on your gas gauge when driving without a thermostat, so you do not run out of gas. Your engine will use more fuel than normal.

Driving your car as normal and quickly finding a mechanic to replace your car thermostat as soon as possible. Any delay will cause serious consequences to your car .

Wrap Up

Running a car with no thermostat is overall a bad idea to pursue. In any situation, you feel unsure about the condition of the thermostat, use the best maintenance tips, or simply consult the professionals as soon as possible. Leave a comment below if you need an explanation for anything, we will be back soon to answer you!