I was on my way to see my youngest daughter compete in her third gymnastics’ event and I notice the temperature of my car has suddenly risen to the danger zone. I put on the heater hoping to lower the temperature, but the air coming out is cold; it makes me think immediately the thermostat is not opening. I text my dad to let him know and to tell Leanna and Stefan I won’t be making it to their events this day.
I decide I want to try and get the car home because I cannot afford to have it towed. So, I let it cool down and then take off towards home. It heats up again and pull over to let it cool and do this over and over until I get close to home. My daughter talked me into taking the car near her at a church. Seemed like a good idea.
First obstacle is finding a thermostat. I just assumed the local auto part store would have one. Amanda’s friend gave me a ride only to find out they don’t, but a nearby store does. So, we go to the other car part store in town, hoping they would have one, they don’t either, but on in a nearby town does. Amanda’s friend was kind and took me to a nearby store and I got the thermostat.
We returned and began the discovery of even where the thermostat was on the car. Amanda helped and we found the location. About the time we were ready to begin the remove and replace, a friend of Amanda’s showed up. She asked him if he knew how to work on cars and he immediately jumped at the chance. Because I did not really want to do it and he took such an assertive stance, I let him take the lead.
After an excruciating amount of time and effort, we were ready to see if the car would hold water, it did not. After some more excruciating time and effort, we gave up because we could not figure out why it continued to leak.
That night, I thought through our efforts and noticed the following things. Firstly, Amanda noticed that the leak looked like it came more from the screws than the hoses. The hoses is where we put our effort the day before. Secondly, the helper did not put the ‘O’ ring in the first time. So, I wondered if he put the thermostat in correctly. That night, I looked up the diagram to see how everything should fit together. The first thing I noticed, is the thermostat went in the opposite way one would think, in other words upside down.
So, I had several challenges the next day. Firstly, I needed something to jump my car if in fact I was able to fix the thermostat. Secondly, I needed a couple tools. I did not want to bum rides, most people were at work anyway. So, I took my 30lb bag and off I went to walk to the car part store for the following things. 1) A bottom radiator hose, assuming the leak was caused by a bad one. 2) Channel locks, a smaller size. 3) A 8MM socket and 1/4″ adapter. And – one more thing, a clamp that was easier to tighten than the squeeze clamp it currently had and was so hard to tighten. Then I had to walk from there to my car, around 6 miles total with my 30lb pack. Pretty good for me and my out of shape and fat body.
I went to work and took out the thermostat we installed the day before and to my delight and also my frustration, the thermostat was in fact installed upside down. It was so jammed in there that I damaged the thermostat removing it. So, now I had another challenge, finding a ride to get another thermostat. Lucky for me, there were some people at the church, retired folks always willing to help. I went over to the group and asked, but nobody could right then. I did not want to inconvenience anyone, but I called my dad to see if he could. He could, but not right then as well. As I walked across the street to chat with Amanda, an elderly man yelled out to me: “Have you found a ride?” and I said no, he said he could take me. He was sitting in his truck waiting for his wife working at the church. He could not get around very well because of some surgery to his legs. He was so kind and drove me out to Springtown to purchase the new thermostat and gasket.
Figuring out how to put the thermostat in was interesting, putting it in was even more. The ‘O’ ring really did not sit well on top of the bottom piece and when I raised them up to attach to the top, the ‘O’ ring would slide out of place. I then experimented with how they would fit without the bottom and found the ‘O’ ring was really meant to go in before the bottom would be put into place. But how do you hold up a thermostat into an upside down installation
I took one of the ratchet extensions and held the thermostat in place. I then took the ‘O’ ring and shimmied it up the extension and put it in place and then did the same with the bottom portion. Holding all in place, I loaded the ratchet with the bolt and was able to secure it in place and got the second one in as well. Now, truly the most challenging part, securing the hoses.
I bought an easy secure c clamp for one of the hoses, and it seemed to work, but the small overflow house, the clamp is a squeeze and in a very challenging place to try and finagle. With much effort, I was able to get the hose on as far as possible and was just able to get the clamp, I guess close enough to keep from leaking. This was lucky, because the squeeze pins got moved into a position where I could not reach them well, like I could do before.
I had done all I thought I could do and now the test to see if it would hold water – it did. I was so happy, but it was not a tested solution.
Now for my second challenge, I needed to jump my car. The portable battery jump I had brought did not result into a started car. I chatted with Amanda and did not want to call my dad again and then have to cancel. Amanda spoke with a friend and it worked out the friend wanted to visit and when she did, she asked them for a jump for my car. I was excited because without any further obstacles, the car started right up. I let the car run and it did not overheat, I was excited.
Driving home was a different story. As I hit the higher speeds, the temperature gauge went up to almost overheating. I figured, I would turn on the heater and to my delight, it worked. You see, that is how I knew it was the thermostat before. I turned on the heater to try and reduce the heat and it only blew cold air, now it blew hot air, so a semi success.
It overheated by the time I got home, but I got home. After letting it sit for a bit, I put more water/coolant in and then, the starting issue again. It started. I let it sit idling for a bit, ran well, however, on the longer drive it started overheating again, so I turned on the heater and it began to cool down, thank goodness. I am not sure whey it continues to overheat at the quicker speeds, but I am praying it continues to work tomorrow – I may have to drive with the heater on. But the thermostat does work, I know because I have heat again.
What a challenge for a thermostat. Such a small part can render the car completely useless. Success in the end, my car is home regardless.