Your car thermostat is responsible not just for setting the temperature of your vehicle, but for maintaining and generating that temperature. Generally, it's connected to your car's heating system, which can range from a full air conditioning system to a simple fan heater depending on the age and technological level of your car. There are several variables that are important for a car thermostat. Firstly, thermostats alter either the temperature of your car or the intensity of the heating system. Secondly, they can control your air conditioning options, and the type of cooling that occurs. Finally, they can come in many varieties, some of which allow you to isolate certain regions of your car, and others that focus primarily on treating the entire car as a single unit. If you're looking for a new car, the thermostat is definitely something that you should look at, as without a comfortable heating and ventilation system you'll quickly find yourself uncomfortable and unhappy in your new vehicle.
The first important thing to look for is a thermostat that allows you to control the temperature of your car, rather than the intensity of the heating system itself. While most new cars come fitted with a variable temperature control, many older models still retain the old style thermostat which only allows you to control the flow and intensity of the heat. There are several reasons to get the new version, all of which revolve around the level of comfort and control it gives you.
Firstly, a variable temperature control allows you to set the temperature in degrees, either Fahrenheit or Celsius depending on your region. By controlling the temperature exactly, you can allow yourself to create a more specific and comfortable climate within your car, and avoid having to constantly adjust the heat level in order to actually stay at a comfortable temperature. Just set the controller and forget about it, and instead focus on enjoying your travelling.
Secondly, a variable temperature control removes the ambiguity that comes with setting the temperature on a standard car thermostat. Instead of simply providing controls for 'hot' and 'cold,' you're always getting a specific reading. This allows you to match your temperature with the outside temperature in order to avoid fogging and icing, and also effectively de-fog your windows, mirrors, and windscreen in the case of an exceptionally cold day.
The second thing to look for when buying a new car is the air conditioning options that the thermostat can provide. While air conditioning is considered to be a standard feature in almost all new cars, it's often not present in older models. There are generally two reasons for this: cutting the air conditioning to save installation money in cheap cars, and removal of the system for weight reduction in sports cars. If you're looking at a family car without air conditioning, it's most likely not present as part of a cost cutting measure.
It's really a trade-off; do you value the price point or comfort level more? With air conditioning systems commonly coming as standard fare on new cars, it probably shouldn't even enter your considerations when buying a new car. Almost all air conditioning units operate in the same basic fashion, and while the superficialities may change in design and operation, they all provide the same basic benefits.
Operation of air conditioning units is simple, and they're all controlled from the car's thermostat. Simply set the temperature of your car, and pick air conditioning from the options available if you'd like it to be active. Picking air conditioning will cause the car to intake air from the front ducts, and provides more effective and comfortable cooling for many people. If you don't select air conditioning, your car thermostat will simply recycle air throughout the cabin and use it to cool the car. While the second option uses less power, the first is much more effective for cooling the cabin and clearing away any fog or condensation on the windows and windshield.
Finally, a new addition to many car thermostats is the ability to isolate certain sections of the car for individual cooling options. A relatively common option in luxury cars and sports saloons, the system is becoming more and more frequent amongst family cars and commuter vehicles. The major benefits of this system are fairly obvious. If you're travelling long distances with several passengers, you can all set your own individual temperature and fan levels to keep you all at optimal comfort levels. Instead of staying annoyingly cold or uncomfortably hot, you can separate 'zones' within the car and provide individual settings to them.
While this system is currently limited to relatively middle and high end cars, it's quickly becoming adapted into regular cars. While it's not designed for optimum fuel efficiency, the temperature and comfort benefits that it can provide often outweigh the fuel losses. This is really a preferential thing -- while some drivers can happily live without the comfort, others prefer it to their small fuel savings.
Car Thermostats can come in many varieties and construction styles, however they all retain the same basic set of features. Available in temperature control and heat control, they can range from being able to set specific temperature points and fan levels, to providing rather vague instructions on heat and fan intensity alone. If you're looking for a new car and have comfort on your mind, it's wise to pick a car that can provide variable temperature control, ease of use, and the ability to create isolated and customizable heating zones. Car thermostats are a standard inclusion, and should be on the mind of every new car buyer.