How to Change the Thermostat on a 1988 Volkswagen Cabriolet

Volkswagen owners are traditionally loyal and loving to their vehicles and the owners of the 1988 VW Cabriolet are no different. If there is something broken, you will want to get it fixed quickly. Replacing a broken thermostat is not an overly difficult job for the Cabriolet thus a high bill from an authorized repair center can be avoided if the job is completed at home. The install can be completed with basic automotive tools and for a relatively low cost.

Tools Used: 1988 VW Cabriolet thermostat, RTV silicone, Scraper, Wrench, Flat-head screwdriver

Change the Thermostat

Remove the metal clamp that holds the radiator onto the thermostat intake tube by loosening it with a flat-head screwdriver. Pull the hose off of the intake tube and push the hose off to the side to allow access to the bolts that hold the housing onto the intake manifold.

Remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the thermostat intake tube onto the intake manifold of the Cabriolet and then pull the thermostat intake tube off of the intake manifold. Inspect the intake tube for any hairline cracks. If the intake tube is cracked a new one should be installed. Otherwise, the old one can be used.

Pull the old thermostat out of the intake manifold by lifting up on it. The thermostat is not bolted in and should pull out easily.

Place a towel into the hole that the thermostat was pulled out of and then scrape all of the old thermostat gasket off of the top of the intake manifold. Inspect the bottom of the thermostat intake tube for gasket and remove any that you find with a scraper.

Place a bead of RTV silicone around the bottom edge of the thermostat intake tube and allow the silicone to cure for 15 minutes.

Remove the towel from the intake manifold and place the new thermostat into the hole. The end that has been stamped with, "top" should stick out of the intake. This ensures the thermostat will work properly.

Bolt the thermostat intake tube back onto the intake manifold of the Cabriolet. Do not over tighten the intake tube. The metal it is made from is soft and the bolt holes that are machined into the tube are prone to cracking if the bolts are too tight. If this happens a new thermostat intake tube should be used.

Slip the radiator hose back onto the thermostat intake tube and secure the clip that holds it onto the tube. You can opt to use a band clamp in place of the clip for a more secure fit.

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