How a Novice Home Mechanic Can Replace the Thermostat on a 2004 Buick LeSabre Before Heading out on a Long Vacation Drive

There are some things you should do to get your old car ready for a long summer vacation drive. Among the easiest but most important things to do is replacing the thermostat on your car, especially if it hasn't been changed in years. The thermostat is the device that opens and allows the coolant from the radiator to flow into the engine block and cool it down once it gets too hot. If the thermostat fails, the car engine could overheat and cause the head gasket on the engine to leak. The money you were planning on using for your vacation might instead be spent on fixing the car so you can get back home. Here is how a novice mechanic can replace the thermostat on a 2004 Buick LeSabre.

Set Catch Basin

Some radiator coolant fluid will spill out of the radiator hose when you are removing the thermostat. The fluid can be dangerous to pets and animals that lick it up. To avoid this danger, place a large catch basin under the front of the engine to catch any fluid that spills to the floor.

Remove Engine Cover

The 2004 Buick LeSabre has an engine cover that has to be removed to reach the old thermostat. To remove the cover, you have to unscrew and take off the oil cap. The engine cover will lift right up off of the engine once you have removed the oil cap.

Remove Old Thermostat

There are two bolts that have to be removed from the thermostat housing cover. To find the cover, follow the radiator hose on the top left side of the radiator until it reaches the engine. The hose is connected to a stem on the thermostat cover. You do not have to remove the hose from the cover.

You will need a ratchet set with metric sockets. You should use a 10 mm socket to remove the bolts, provided you still have all the original equipment on the car. Remove the bolts and lift the cover off of the thermostat. Remove the thermostat. Sometimes the thermostat is stuck to the underside of the cover.

Install New Thermostat

You should inspect the new thermostat to make sure the gasket on it is not damaged in any way. A damaged gasket will cause coolant to leak out of the thermostat. If the gasket is damaged, return it to the auto parts store and get another one.

Place the thermostat into the engine with the spring side facing downward. Put the cover back over the top of the new thermostat and screw it back on. Replace the engine cover and the oil cap. If the coolant that spilled out is clean, you can pour it back into the radiator. Otherwise, dispose of the coolant by following your local municipal regulations on radiator coolant waste.

If you want to install a new thermostat, then contact a parts dealer such as National GM Parts to buy a thermostat and get started. 

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