Does a 180°F Thermostat Worth It?

When it comes to maintaining your car’s engine temperature, thermostats play a crucial role. For many car owners, the idea of upgrading to a 180°F (82°C) thermostat is tempting, as it promises to improve engine performance and fuel efficiency.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of a 180 thermostat and help you make an informed decision.

A 180 thermostat maintains the engine temperature at a lower level compared to the standard factory thermostat, which usually operates around 195°F (91°C) or higher. The theory behind this upgrade is that a cooler running engine will produce more power and increase fuel efficiency. But does it really deliver these benefits?

180 Thermostat Advantages: A Deeper Look

Improved Engine Performance

One of the primary reasons for considering a 180 thermostat is the potential increase in engine performance. By maintaining a lower temperature, the engine is less likely to experience detonation or knocking, which can damage internal components and decrease power output. A cooler engine also helps reduce the intake air temperature, resulting in a denser air-fuel mixture that can enhance combustion and power output.

Increased Fuel Efficiency

A cooler engine may also lead to improved fuel efficiency, as the lower operating temperature can reduce engine wear and decrease the need for energy-consuming cooling systems. This can result in a small gain in miles per gallon (MPG) for some vehicles, particularly those that experience a lot of stop-and-go driving or operate in hot climates.

Optimal Air-Fuel Ratio

A 180 thermostat allows the engine to run cooler, which can help maintain an optimal air-fuel ratio. This leads to more efficient combustion and reduces the risk of engine knock, ultimately contributing to better performance.

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Lowered Heat Soak

Heat soak occurs when the engine heats up components surrounding it, such as the intake manifold and air intake system. A cooler engine reduces heat soak, which can improve the efficiency of the intake system and the overall performance of your vehicle.

Disadvantages of a 180 Thermostat

Reduced Emissions Control

Modern engines are designed to operate at specific temperatures for optimal emissions control. Lowering the engine temperature with a 180 thermostat may interfere with the proper functioning of the emissions control system, causing an increase in harmful emissions and potentially triggering a check engine light.

Possible Incompatibility with Other Systems

In some vehicles, a lower operating temperature may negatively impact other systems, such as transmission fluid warm-up and engine oil viscosity. These factors can contribute to decreased engine and transmission life, negating any potential benefits from the thermostat upgrade.

Limited Real-World Gains

While a 180 thermostat may provide some benefits in theory, the real-world gains may not be significant enough to justify the expense and potential risks associated with the upgrade. For most drivers, the factory thermostat is more than adequate for maintaining proper engine temperature and performance.

180 Thermostat vs Regular Thermostat: Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a 180 thermostat and a regular thermostat depends on your specific vehicle, driving habits, and performance goals. If you live in a hot climate or frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, a 180 thermostat may provide some benefits. However, for most drivers, the factory-installed thermostat is designed to meet the needs of the vehicle’s engine and systems.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing a 180 Thermostat

  1. Gather Tools and Materials: You will need a new 180 thermostat, coolant, a socket wrench, a drain pan, and a sealant or gasket, depending on your vehicle.
  2. Allow the Engine to Cool: Make sure your engine is completely cool before beginning the installation process.
  3. Drain Coolant: Place a drain pan under the radiator and remove the drain plug to drain the coolant.
  4. Locate and Remove the Old Thermostat: Consult your vehicle’s service manual to locate the thermostat housing. Use a socket wrench to remove the bolts and take out the old thermostat.
  5. Clean the Housing: Clean the thermostat housing and the mating surface on the engine to ensure a proper seal.
  6. Install the New Thermostat: Place the new 180 thermostat into the housing with the correct orientation, and apply a sealant or gasket as required.
  7. Reassemble: Reattach the thermostat housing, ensuring the bolts are properly tightened.
  8. Refill Coolant: Refill the radiator with the appropriate coolant mixture, making sure to remove any air bubbles.
  9. Check for Leaks: Start the engine and check for any leaks around the thermostat housing.
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Troubleshooting Your 180 Thermostat: Common Issues & Fixes

  • Overheating: Ensure that the thermostat is installed correctly and functioning properly. If the problem persists, check for a clogged radiator, malfunctioning water pump, or insufficient coolant.
  • Poor Fuel Economy: Ensure that the engine is reaching its optimal temperature for efficient combustion. If not, you may need to revert to the factory thermostat.

Keep Your 180 Thermostat Running Smoothly: Maintenance Tips

Regularly check your coolant level and ensure that it is within the recommended range.

  • Inspect the thermostat housing for any signs of leaks or corrosion.
  • Monitor your engine temperature gauge to ensure that your engine is running within the appropriate temperature range.
  • Service your cooling system as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, including flushing the coolant and checking hoses, belts, and the radiator for any signs of wear or damage.

Top 180 Thermostat Brands & Models: Make the Right Choice

When selecting a 180 thermostat, it’s essential to choose a high-quality product from a reputable brand. Some of the top brands and models include:

  1. Stant: A well-known manufacturer of thermostats, Stant offers a wide range of 180 thermostats designed for various makes and models.
  2. Mishimoto: Known for their high-performance cooling products, Mishimoto offers a selection of 180 thermostats for popular performance vehicles.
  3. Motorad: With a long history in the automotive industry, Motorad produces a variety of 180 thermostats suitable for many vehicles.


Before purchasing a 180 thermostat, ensure that it is compatible with your vehicle and consult with a trusted mechanic to determine if the upgrade is suitable for your specific needs and goals.

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In conclusion, a 180 thermostat can offer some benefits, such as improved engine performance and fuel efficiency, particularly in hot climates or demanding driving conditions. However, it’s essential to weigh the potential advantages against the risks and costs associated with the upgrade. By carefully considering your vehicle’s specifications and consulting with a knowledgeable mechanic, you can make an informed decision about whether a 180 thermostat is right for you.