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How Thermostats Help Your Diesel Engine

The purpose of a diesel engine cooling system is pretty obvious: to keep the engine cool and prevent overheating. However, there is more to the system than simply keeping engine temperatures as low as possible all the time. In fact, there are some times when the amount of coolant liquid flowing through to the radiator must be limited. For example, when a diesel engine is first started on a cold morning and needs to warm up quickly.

These instances are when the cooling system thermostat plays its part. The thermostat is one of the main components of any diesel engine cooling system, and something every equipment owner should be aware of if they want to keep their engines running efficiently.

diesel engine cooling system thermostats

A cooling system thermostat is essentially a temperature regulator. Some diesel engines have one and some have more than one. Thermostats largely replaced the old grille shutters, which were a less sophisticated way to regulate cooling, by means of controlling airflow. With thermostats, we now have a reliable way to control the temperature at which coolant flows to the radiator, transferring heat away from the engine block.

Think of the thermostat as a valve; when the temperature of the coolant drops below a certain level, the valve closes in order to limit the cooling. When the temperature rises above a point at which it might begin to be harmful to the engine, the valve opens and more hot coolant passes through the radiator, which lowers its temperature by transferring heat to the air.

When the thermostat is open all the way, that means it’s entirely up to the radiator to keep the engine cool and prevent damage. In most use cases, especially equipment under relatively light engine load, it is not necessary for the radiator to be working at maximum coolant flow. Ultimately, the thermostat(s) and radiator in any diesel engine must work together to maintain the proper temperature range for the engine.

Having a basic understanding of how the thermostat works, it’s clear  what an important component it is when it comes to cooling system service. Don’t make the costly mistake of thinking that keeping your cooling system in top shape is only about servicing the radiator.

A good service team must have the knowledge and expertise to identify problems with your thermostats and know how to calibrate them properly.

diesel engine cooling system thermostat in housing

For example, a bad thermostat or thermostat housing may be a cause of coolant leaks. Engine overheating or erratic  temperature swings could also be caused by a thermostat in need of repair, and have nothing to do with the radiator. 

If you have diesel engine equipment experiencing problems like these, it’s best to call cooling system experts who know how to troubleshoot and find out whether or not the thermostat is a cause. Too often, what would have been a relatively simple fix goes undetected or ignored and becomes a much bigger, more expensive problem. If you have a diesel engine cooling system in need of routine maintenance or repair, contact the experts at Industrial Radiator Service today.

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