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Thermostat Replacement on a 1996 Saturn SL2

Picked up this 1996 Saturn to pass on to someone else and thought it was running a little cold, it was running at 149º F. I purchased one from O'Reilly's for about $17. It took about a hour to replace. If you have not replaced the coolant in the system in a while, now it a good time because a lot will come out when you pull the thermostat.

Tools Needed:

Drain pan 10 mm socket
10 mm socket, deep 3/8" swivel adapter
3/8" ratchet 3/8" short extension
Gasket sealant 9/32" socket 1/4"
1/4" screw driver Pliers


  1. Slide the drip pan under the car.

  2. Open the hood.

  3. Remove the hose clamp that connects to the thermostat housing, 9/32" socket.

  4. Remove the thermostat, 10mm bolts.

  5. Wipe off the threads of the bolts.

  6. Wipe off the surface that the thermostat housing mates to.

  7. Put a little gasket sealant to the rubber gasket, just enough to keep the seal in place. The rubber gasket makes the seal, not the sealant stuff.

  8. Install the thermostat, make sure the seal is seated in the housing and install the bolts. Not sure what the torque value should be but I torqued mine to about 18 ft lbs.

  9. Connect the hose to the thermostat housing.

  10. Refill the coolant. Put back the amount that you drained out. All of it may not go back in the 1st try. Put as much as you can back in. I actually started the car and filled the expansion tank as much as I could.

  11. Run the car for 10 minutes or so and recheck your level. Also check for leaks.

  12. Close the hood and recheck the system every day or so, until you know the system has enough coolant and is not leaking.

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These instructions were modified on 07/14/2011.

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