OK, let’s start!
I had multiple Cruze cars since 2011, unfortunately I can’t say I have/had one free of issues! Talking about the heating and cooling, I saw different & multiple issues reported by people. I did many changes to my cars during the years and I’m going to share with you a few interesting things about the thermostat, specific for 1.4L turbo (ECO). It can be similar issues for other trims, even for Diesel, but the cars I tested & modified are Cruze ECO 2011-2012.
Based on testing 4 cars, here are my observations:
First, the “input data”:
- The OE Thermostat on Chevy Cruze ECO (1.4L turbo) from 2011 to 2016, is with a wax thermostatic element that starts opening at 105°C (221°F).
- The OE Thermostat is also wired and controlled by ECM. Based on different algorithms and program codes, the thermostat can open at any temperature at any time, if the ECM requires that!
- The water temperature display gauge is… a joke! I monitored it for different cars and compared with data from OBD. The dial moves when the temperatures increases until… until 185°F (85°C) only! Then stays there, right before 6 o’clock, no matter how high is the real water temperature. When I tested this, I changed the coolant concentration, adding much more water into the system and let the engine run until the water started boiling. The gauge was at the same position max position, telling me “everything’s ok!
4. The expansion OE tank cap is opening only at 20PSI.
Under all these conditions, the coolant temperatures during normal driving conditions stays around 220°-230°F. I said normal driving conditions because when the engine is overheating, the ECM controls and changes everything. It may open the shutter grille to help cooling down and also it can open the thermostat at any temperatures it “wants”, based on data collection. So, not only that you drive with coolant at high temperature, but also the entire system is at high pressure, since the tank cap opens over 20 PSI. In theory, a higher engine operating temperature helps improving its performances. Well, maintaining a higher temperature for the engine and cooling system requires also better quality system parts. Coolant’s boiling point is way too high under the condition I mentioned so everything is ok until… One small crack into the system will lower the PSI and of course the boiling point of your coolant. Add adding more water into the system and you will lower it even more until the coolant will start boiling time to time, without you notice it I replaced the recovery tank a few times, and many hoses all the time! Many others did the same things on this forum.
Sick of changing parts all year along I decided to change the thermostat and go “old school”. It took me a while until I found something that works but here is what I did. I bought a new thermostat housing 55593035Dorman 902-2080 (GM) that is for Cadillac ELR 2014 Chevy Volt 2011-2014. Do not buy MotoRad, it is a different new model, it will not work! You need the one with the “cage”, see the attachment. The housing is different from the outside, but the internal thermostat is fully compatible with Cruze’s thermostat housing. Push the cage and rotate as in my picture, then take out the spring and “cage”. The thermostat will come out relatively easy. It looks the same as the other one, only the wax inside is different and starts opening at 176°F (80°C). Be careful with the 2 legs, don’t bend them so they can go straight back into the housing.
I’ll not got into details of how to take out the existing thermostat, there are good posts on this forum. Put everything back, and make sure you have enough coolant. Then, old school again, I changed the tank cover with one that is opening at 15 PSI, not 20 PSI (MOTORAD T46 )!
I did this replacement on 6 ECO-s and these cars have between 500 to 3200 miles since. No issues at all! The temperature goes usually up to ~184°F then the thermostat is fully opened so the temperature goes down around 180°F. I didn’t notice any drastic changes to MPG! I have hot air blowing inside the car as I had before the swap.
I did all the changes I mentioned because me and my friends have multiple issues with the cooling system since 2011. If you like the solution and have questions, please let me know. I don’t want to argue with anybody about why GM built the system in the way it is so don’t challenge me! :P