Old truck thermostat question
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    Evergreen's Avatar
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    Old truck thermostat question

    Apparently thermostat temp ratings are a touchy subject on other forums so let's see if yous guys are better mannered! I'm wondering if there is a scientific reason to with one temperature thermostat versus another; an example being 165* vs 195*. I have looked at (and posted on) some other forums and this question really turned into a s##t storm with no real answer. I need to replace my thermostat but every parts store lists a different one for my truck and everyone I talk to about it has a different opinion on which one is the right choice. Also, I live in the colder end of Michigan and I don't know how or if climate should effect my thermostat choice.

    The truck in question is my 1985 F150 with a carbureted 300ci straight 6. The truck is used for commuting durring the week and towing 5,000 pounds of either tractor or sled dogs on the weekends.

    Thank goodness my Deere runs of a thermo-siphon system and doesn't have one!
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    '85 F150... I finally sold my very first truck after racking up over half-a-million miles on the original drivetrain.

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    I'd find a 180* thermostat and run that because in my experience most gas engines like that temp.
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    Well, this won't be the scientific reason but I'll throw in my $.02.

    From what I see off hand, the original equipment specs for your truck are for a 195 degree thermostat. But you can use alternate models for 160, 180, etc... degrees.

    Now, I'm not all the familiar with the Ford 300 cu. in. but I know that on many of the 70s/80s AMCs and Chrysler products, if you used the lower temp thermostats in the winter time (below freezing temps) the engine would knock and then diesel when you shut it down if you only drove short distances. The higher temp thermostat allowed the engine to heat up more so it didn't knock or diesel as often. On the flip side of that, the lower temp thermostats allowed it to open up earlier and cool the engines better in hotter weather.

    On the completely-unrelated-to-performance side, the higher temp thermostat also got more heat into the passenger compartment sooner which is nice in the winter.
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    What temp does (or did) your truck run at? If it ran goodat that temp and didn't give you any problems that is the thermostat temp you need.
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    A lower temp thermostat allows for a cooler, denser intake charge, (although slight) and provides a very minimal power increase. The power increase from this alone on a street car is negligible at best. It does help engines with a pre-detonation or knocking issue. Older engines that are tired and weak could benefit from the lower temp thermostats. A lot of race car engine builders go this route.

    A warmer temp thermostat allows for more engine efficiency as there is less heat needed to expand the incoming fresh fuel and air charge. It also makes for better heat exchange on the radiator to the ambient air. It also gives the cab air heater more "power" as there is more heat energy in the coolant to give off to the cab. You'll find all of the "mileage maximizing" cars these days run the higher temps for the efficiency.


    Personally I'd find out what the factory thermostat was rated for. I believe your truck will operate the best at design temp. The biggest factor being emissions. If the truck is running outside of it's design window, how can temp related components like fuel controls and exhaust after-treatments work correctly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evergreen View Post
    Apparently thermostat temp ratings are a touchy subject on other forums so let's see if yous guys are better mannered! I'm wondering if there is a scientific reason to with one temperature thermostat versus another; an example being 165* vs 195*. I have looked at (and posted on) some other forums and this question really turned into a s##t storm with no real answer. I need to replace my thermostat but every parts store lists a different one for my truck and everyone I talk to about it has a different opinion on which one is the right choice. Also, I live in the colder end of Michigan and I don't know how or if climate should effect my thermostat choice.

    The truck in question is my 1985 F150 with a carbureted 300ci straight 6. The truck is used for commuting durring the week and towing 5,000 pounds of either tractor or sled dogs on the weekends.

    Thank goodness my Deere runs of a thermo-siphon system and doesn't have one!

    Go down to your local Ford dealer and tell them that you need a thermostat for your particular model pickup. When they hand it to you, look at it and you will find it is likely a 192 degree thermostat. That is really all you need to know. I just sold a 1993 F150 and had replaced the thermostat in it fairly recently. By the way, the same thermostat at O'Reillys is $4, while it is $24 at the dealer. I went with the one from the dealer as I did not want to have to replace it again next year. Anything with a lower temp rating will not keep you warm in the winter. The only reason to consider a lower temp thermostat is if your pickup is overheating.

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    Evergreen's Avatar
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    Thanks for the prompt response! The big issue is that "stock" doesn't mean much to this truck... The block and moving bits are from 1985 but the rest of it has been frankenstined from other years and even other model trucks.
    I have been running the same thermostat for 12 years and 250000 miles. Truthfully I have no idea what thermostat is in there. What I do know is that the temp gauge has been showing some strange fluxuations over the last couple of weeks.
    '50 Model M w/electronic ignition, 12v conversion, and a 3pt conversion plus a homemade snowplow, a Deere Model 51 trailer plow, a Woods RM59 finish mower, a Bark Buster splitter, and a few other toys.
    '69 Sears Suburban 14 48" deck and 42" back blade, an estate rake, and a sweeper.
    '07 F250 XL Powerstroke, crew cab, short box, 4x4.
    '85 F150... I finally sold my very first truck after racking up over half-a-million miles on the original drivetrain.

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    If the old thermostat is not holding a fairly consistent temperature, then it is time to replace it. In your case, you probably should take the old one to the dealer and tell them you want another one just like it. 250,000 miles on one thermostat deserves another one just like it.

    Dave
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    Dave's correct, I think a 192 degree 'stat is what is available for the 300-6 now.

    I had a '78 F150 with carb'd 300-6, and an '87 F150 w/300-6 EFI.
    Watch your automatic choke on your carb. In cold temps it will not kick off and you'll run rich and get really poor mpg. A manual choke conversion would be one way to fix. The Carter YF or YF 1A carb was a really crude device, about as good at metering gas as a soup can with a hole in the bottom. In winter my '78 would always flood if I started it cold and only let it run five to ten minutes. Try to restart it before it completely cooled off again and it would flood. The EFI was so much better!

    You could also have water pump and/or radiator issues. They probably haven't had much service the last few years, or 20 or 30 years. But the 'stat is cheaper and easier to swap to start. My '78 got a cheap rebuilt replacement water pump about every two years the 7 yes I had it. Also got a replacement radiator just before I traded it too.

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    You could always try to place the old thermostat in a pot is water and turn up the heat. Take the temp of the water when the thermostat opens. This is only good for reference purposes as you said you think yours may be failing.


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