Re: I need to change out the thermostat on 1997 Nissan...
The thermostat is located near the back left of the engine if you are looking in with your hood open. It is inconveniently located next to several other hoses and wires. Your best bet is a racheting screwdriver with a 10mm socket. It is accessible from the top side. If you replace the thermostat and you experience over heating, it is most likely just air trapped in the housing. Run your car and warm it up, let it cool down, open radiator cap and add coolant. Repeat a few times and that should purge the air.
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Top rad hose next to the engine, and yes you might want to drain the coolant before changing the
t-stat, there are 3 - 10mm bolts that hold it on, if you strip them you can get a longer bolt and install a nut to fix it. It takes a while to fill that system and for the fans to kick on, make sure you turn the heater on high when refilling with coolant.
It should be located where the lower radiator hose connects to the engine, and there you should find the thermostat housing. Be sure when installing the new thermostat that the spring side of the thermostat is installed towards the engine.
After you change the thermostat you might have to remove the upper radiator hose from the radiator to pour coolant back into the block, or the engine might not have any coolant getting into it until after the thermostat has opened up, and by then it would be too late and the engine will over-heat. Also, be sure to bleed the trapped air from the cooling system by using any bleeders in the cooling system.
Find the big hose that comes out of the top of the radiator and follow
it to the engine and that is where the thermostat is located. My
advice is to be sure to get a factory thermostat and rubber gasket as
it makes installation much easier. I have done it both ways and the
factory one is easier to install.