Does your vehicle overheat at idle or in heavy traffic? Replace your malfunctioning fan clutch at once.
Engine overheating is one of the common reasons for breakdown of most engine parts. In this situation, the fan clutch suffers the most and can cause serious impact on your ride's engine cooling system. Repairing can only do so much, so you'd better look for a replacement that brings everything you want to the table.
A fan clutch is a fluid coupling combined with a bi-metallic sensory system that is very similar to a thermostat. Its main purpose is to unfasten the engine's radiator cooling fan during cool or normal operating temperatures. The whole idea behind the disengaging is to save power since your ride isn't torching the roads just yet. However, things get a little bit tricky when you start to step on the gas because the fan becomes fully engaged and sucks in as much air as possible. The more air that gets into the radiator, the better the engine will be cooled, which means there is a less chance of overheating.
t for this engine-cooling component, make sure that it is specifically designed to control fan speed depending on the engine's temperature requirements. Aside from that, get professional help if you don't know how to install one.
Fan Clutch Buyer’s Guide
- The fan clutch regulates the fan speed either based on the engine’s temperature or speed.
- There are two components of the fan clutch, which are the drive portion and the driven or clutch portion.
- Some fan clutches feature an air-engaged mechanism, which uses air pressure to drive the friction material into the fan plate, while spring-engaged fan clutches are equipped with a thermostatic spring that regulates the movement of the friction material.
- Thermostatic springs play a significant role in controlling the silicone fluid flow to the driven portion of the fan clutch.
- Without the fan clutch, your fan may get stuck at one speed or not operate at all.
- It is advisable to replace the fan clutch if there’s a visible silicone fluid leak from the bearing seal.
- OE replacement fan clutches on CarParts.com are priced from as low as $4 up to $420 depending on the brand.
Every car that has an internal combustion engine under the hood is equipped with a cooling system. This system keeps the engine cool as it generates heat from the combustion of the air-fuel mixture inside its chambers. There are multiple components that comprise a car’s cooling system and the common ones are the radiator and the cooling fan. The cooling fan, which is operated by a fan clutch, helps draw air through the radiator at low speeds or when your car is in idle.
What is a fan clutch?
Ever wondered how cooling fans work? They don’t simply operate at a constant speed because it wouldn’t be fuel efficient if they did. Instead, a fan clutch regulates the fan speed either based on the engine’s temperature or speed. There are two components of the fan clutch, which are the drive portion and the driven or clutch portion. The drive portion rotates with the pulley while the clutch portion holds the fan blade, thermostatic bimetal coil, and silicone fluid reservoir in place.
There are two different ways of engaging the drive and clutch portions to rotate together. Some cooling fans feature an air-engaged mechanism, which uses air pressure to drive the friction material into the fan plate. Meanwhile, a spring-engaged fan clutch is equipped with a thermostatic spring that regulates the flow of the friction material through a valve.
Types of fan clutches
There are three common types of fan clutches, which are thermal, non-thermal, and electronic.
Thermal Fan Clutch
Thermal fan clutches feature a thermostatic valve that opens and closes according to the rise and drop in temperature. Held closed by a temperature-sensitive bimetal spring, a valve keeps the silicone fluid inside the reservoir to disengage the clutch portion of the assembly.
Non-thermal Fan Clutch
Non-thermal fan clutches are also known as torque-limiting fan clutches because they rely on centrifugal pressure that’s influenced by speed. This means that the valves on non-thermal fan clutches are pressure-sensitive rather than temperature-sensitive. A downside of the non-thermal fan clutch is that the fan speed is limited between 1,200 and 2,200 rpm.
Electronic Fan Clutch
An electronic fan clutch is operated by a signal that triggers the internal solenoid to open up and allow the silicone fluid to flow out of the reservoir. The signal that triggers this could be sent by a variable, such as the coolant, intake, or transmission oil temperature.
How does a fan clutch work?
While some modern vehicles are equipped with an electronically controlled activation device to open and close the valve, most cars on the road today have spring-engaged fan clutches. Thermostatic springs play a significant role in controlling the silicone fluid flow to the driven portion of the fan clutch. The thermostatic spring is the reason why the cooling fan operates slower when the engine is cold and much faster when the engine temperature rises.
At low temperatures, the valve remains closed because the spring holds the valve shut. It is the heat coming out of the radiator that causes the thermostatic spring to expand and open the valve. Once the viscous silicone fluid flows out of the reservoir and into the shear plates, the driven portion of the assembly engages and the fan blade rotates.
What happens if the fan clutch fails?
The fan clutch is a vital component in an internal combustion setup as it controls the fan blade’s operation. It helps cool your radiator down at low speeds by drawing air through the radiator core when ram air isn’t present. Without the fan clutch, your fan may get stuck at one speed or not operate at all. Here are some bad fan clutch symptoms you hopefully don’t experience.
The cooling fan is critical in keeping your engine from overheating, especially when idling or at low speeds. If the fan clutch begins to fail, it may compromise the operation of the cooling fan. Worse, it may cause the fan blade to not rotate at all. If your car overheats while stuck in traffic, chances are your fan clutch is in bad shape.
Fan clutch noise
One common sign you’re cooling system is compromised is a fan clutch stuck in the engaged position. If a fan clutch is permanently stuck at full speed, it could create loud engine noises. Aside from the irritating sound it creates, a fully-blowing cooling fan also won’t help your car’s fuel economy either. The noise often wouldn’t disappear even when the engine cools down.
Poor fuel economy, lack of power, and slow acceleration
A cooling fan that is permanently engaged is considered as a parasitic drag mainly because it constantly uses engine power. As a result, performance will gradually decrease as engine power wouldn’t be sufficient enough to propel the vehicle. Slow acceleration as well as a significant drop in fuel efficiency are also two of the known consequences of driving with a bad fan clutch.
When to replace your fan clutch?
All aforementioned symptoms could be the result of minor or severe fan clutch damage. Minor damage can be fixed without replacing the assembly. However, it is advisable to replace the fan clutch if there’s a visible silicone fluid leak from the bearing seal. Check if there’s a big buildup of black gooey fluid around the housing. You will also need a fan clutch replacement if the thermostatic coil is damaged, as it is not replaceable nor repairable. You’ll be needing a fan clutch removal tool when replacing the fan clutch. If you’re not the DIY-type, you should let a certified mechanic do it for you.
How much is an OE fan clutch replacement?
Fan clutch replacement parts can cost anywhere from $170 to $290. Shop at CarParts.com to enjoy low-priced fan clutch deals. Get OE replacement fan clutches from CarParts.com for as low as $4 depending on the brand. You can get your fan clutch by itself or as part of a kit. To find all products that fit your vehicle, indicate its year, make, and model on the filter tab under the search bar.
The benefits of maintaining a healthy cooling system
Keeping your cooling system healthy is crucial if you want your engine to last for generations. A properly working engine cooling system not only extends your engine’s life but also provides a comfortable, uncompromised, and smooth ride. One way of keeping your cooling system in good condition is by replacing a faulty fan clutch. Remember to bring your vehicle to your trusted mechanic as soon as you observe the symptoms mentioned above.
Fan Clutch: Know Your Options
The fan clutch is basically the part of your vehicle's cooling system that powers up the fan blades. It has a sensor that detects temperature around the engine and if it becomes too hot, the clutch engages the fan in motion to produce air that cools down the heat. In essence, the clutch's task is to tell the fan when to turn and when to stop. A damaged fan clutch cannot do its job. There is a higher possibility for your car's engine to overheat if the fan clutch is not working well. To prevent this from happening, replace or fix a broken clutch as soon as possible. If you intend to get a replacement, you have two options to choose from: the non thermal and thermal.
Non-thermal fan clutch
This type of fan clutch is engaged with the water pump shaft. When the water pump shaft is spinning, the clutch also spins the fan.
- This type costs less than the standard thermal clutch. If you are on a tight budget, you can opt for this one.
- It performs well. A non-thermal clutch spins at around 30-60% of the water pump speed.
- It is less durable. You have to replace more often because it tends to wear out faster.
- It doesn't save on fuel. Since this clutch is always engaged to the engine, it uses up more energy.
Thermal fan clutch
This type works using a different mechanism. The clutch has a bi-metal thermostatic coil that measures the temperature around the engine. If the temperature is low, it disengages the fan from the water pump shaft so it won't turn. When the temperature is hot, it connects the fan to the water pump and lets the fan spin to cool the engine down.
- It controls the fan efficiently. It lets the fan spin only when needed.
- It provides better cooling application. When the engine is very hot, it lets the fan rotate really fast to take the heat away from the engine faster.
- It is more expensive. It is definitely a part you have to invest in.
- There is a possibility that it won't work that well without warm up. You have to make sure to rev up your car for about ten to fifteen minutes.
Replacing a Fan Clutch
It's highly recommended that you check your car's fan clutch before your trip. Although it's not the main part of your car's engine cooling system, it can very much affect it's overall operation if it becomes damaged. So, if you found that it is already damaged, you need to replace it immediately. Don't worry! This task is easy and it's not going to take so much of your time. Just follow these simple steps.
Difficulty level: Easy
You need these tools:
- Set of wrenches
- Set of 3/8-inch sockets
- 3/8-inch ratchet
- Lockdown tool
- New fan clutch
Step1: Determine the type of your fan clutch. There are two types of fan clutches; one is a fan that is held by four bolts and the other one is held in place by a large nut. Inspect the fan clutch in your car so you would know what type to buy for replacement.
Step 2: Remove the fan. If you have the bolted fan clutch, use your 3/8-inch socket and ratchet to unscrew the bolts. Detach the fan from the pump pulley using the wrench. Slowly, pull the fan forward to release it. If it's a little difficult, do not force it for you might damage the other parts.
If the fan is held by a large nut, use the lockdown tool and place it around the bolts of the pulley to keep it steady. Use the appropriate size of the wrench to loosen the nut. Turn the wrench in counter-clockwise direction. Once it already loosen up, use your bare hand to remove it.
Step 3: Replace the fan clutch. This time, disconnect the clutch from the fan. Use the socket and the ratchet to unscrew the bolts that connects the fan to the clutch. Once it's out, place the new clutch and tighten the bolts again to keep the clutch in place. Put back the fan and the bolts. See to it that everything is back to its original position.