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Radiator Fan Guides

Overview Guide to Replacing a Radiator Fan

The radiator fan is a big part of the car's cooling system that keeps the engine running properly. However, this device can easily give way especially if your vehicle is of age. This is usually noticeable when the temperature gauge is at a high reading and the engine struggles to perform well. Replacing or converting the radiator fan may be challenging for most people, but it's totally feasible for a seasoned DIY enthusiasts. The following are the tools and steps needed in order to do the job:

Required skill level: Intermediate

Needed tools and materials

  1. Socket and wrench set

  2. Screwdriver set

  3. Hammer and chisel

  4. Replacement radiator fan

Inspecting and preparing the radiator assembly

With the engine off and the car parked, pop the hood and inspect the radiator assembly. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, it may be driven electrically or mechanically. If you're doing an OE replacement job, the task simply involves removal and replacement. However, for conversions, it's necessary to setup certain electrical wires and connections first before fully installing the fan.

Removing the old radiator fan

There are lots of screws and bolts that have to be undone in order for you to take out the old radiator fan. Some are one-piece assemblies that can be removed in one pull while others must be taken off piece by piece. For those that need to be separated first, work on the cover and shroud. A hammer and chisel can help you loosen things up. Follow this up by taking out the fan blades themselves. For electrical assemblies, make sure you disconnect the battery and wires before disassembling anything.

Installing the new radiator fan

Installing the fan is just the reverse of removal. Since the new piece is intact, all it takes is simply inserting the assembly in and securing it in place. Return the screws and bolts to their proper place. For electric fans, reconnect the wires properly to get it running. Start the engine to test if everything works fine.

Tips and warnings

  • Since this involves lots of screws and bolts, it may help to take pictures of where each are placed to serve as your reference.

  • Conversion jobs require you to prepare various electrical setups prior to installation. Follow the specific procedures that come along with your new radiator fan to know how to configure the wires.

Replacement and Dorman Radiator Fans' 4-Point Battle

You want a radiator fan to be strong and reliable so that can last the entire life of the car. Two brands that offer you solid options are Dorman and Replacement. Both are known to provide high-quality parts for your car. We installed cooling fans from each brand on our 2007 Chevy Cobalt and analyzed it in four key points to see which one has an edge over the other. Here are our findings:


An order of a Dorman radiator fan for the Cobalt is sold at around $78. The one from Replacement costs only $50. The savings from the later brand may be more pleasing to those with a tight budget.

WINNER: Replacement

Contents and fit

Each purchase of both radiator fans includes a multi-blade fan, a brand-new motor, and a protective shroud. The status of Dorman and Replacement as providers of OE parts holds water because the two assemblies are easy to install and make a perfect fit to the Cobalt. What we like most about both fans is that the same order from each brand is compatible across multiple years and trims of the Cobalt.

WINNER: Dorman and Replacement


We drove our Chevys over long distances just to push the engine and cooling system to their limit. We're happy to say that both cars survived our demanding trip with no trouble. The temperature reading rarely hit dangerous levels and the car moved smoothly. There was little to separate the performance of the two brands.

WINNER: Dorman and Replacement


When we examined the warranty attached to our purchases, we finally found where a big chunk of the extra cost went. The fan of Replacement has a warranty period of 1-year with unlimited-mileage. Dorman's on the other hand has a lifetime limited warranty.

WINNER: Dorman

The verdict

It was hard to separate the two brands as far as compatibility and performance was concerned. If your budget allows, we recommend that your money goes to Dorman radiator fans. The extra cost from the longer warranty gives you more security and confidence with the product. At the end of the day, what you're really looking for is an engine that won't give up on you all because of a busted radiator fan. The one from Dorman certainly won't let you down.

Steps in Buying the Right Radiator Fan

One of the key components of your engine's cooling system is your radiator fan. It pushes or pulls air through your radiator core to ensure that it is properly ventilated. So when your engine starts overheating more than usual, it's time get a new radiator fan. But don't just buy the first one you see on your auto shop. Make sure you get the right one with these three easy steps:

Know the type of radiator fan that you need.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your radiator fan is its type. There are basically two kinds of radiator fans-manual and electric. Manual fans are cooling fans that are mechanically driven. This means that the moment your engine starts running, your cooling fan will start turning consequently. Mechanical fans, such as clutch models and flex fans, tend to be more fuel efficient because they stop when there is already sufficient air passing over the compartment. However, if you prefer more control on your radiator fan, then an electrical one would be a good buy. This kind of model is thermostatically controlled and is set to move only at certain temperatures, making it more convenient when it comes too cooling your engine.

Determine your budget.

The fit of your radiator fan will largely depend on how much you want to spend for it. If you've got quite a big budget, always go for an OE replacement part. Its original-like fit will give you a hassle-free installation since you can expect that it was made to be compatible with your system. This will also ensure higher quality and a longer life span for the cooling fan. If you're strapped for cash, though, you can always choose to purchase direct-fit parts. Although they are inferior in terms of quality, they will do about the same job as OEM parts.

Inspect the radiator fan that you want to purchase.

After you've determined the type and fit of radiator fan for your engine cooling system, the final step is to check the specs and features of the part. Just like any other auto part, your cooling fan has to function well in order to make the entire system work more efficiently. You will need to check different things depending on the type of fan that you'll get. When checking a manual radiator fan, for instance, see to it that it comes with four bolts, which will connect the fan to your radiator. If your radiator fan is a clutch model, make sure that it is built with a spring inside. Carefully check the specs of the part, and ask your supplier for details just to be sure.

Radiator Fan Installation Made Easy

A radiator fan helps in the vehicle's cooling process and draws air into the radiator to prevent the engine from overheating. Since the radiator cannot do the job of cooling down the engine on its own, a radiator fan is positioned between them so that a greater amount of air will flow easily into the radiator. A radiator fan usually has around four or more blades spinning rapidly to pull in more air. Over time, these blades may break and get damaged, causing the radiator fan to stop working. Replace a busted radiator fan right away to avoid overheating problems in the future. Here are the tools you'll need and the steps in replacing your faulty radiator fan:

Difficulty level: Moderate

Tools that you need:

  • Ratchet and socket set
  • Wrench set

Step 1: Disconnect the car's battery and all electrical wiring connected to the radiator first. Make sure the engine is off, and the fan blades have stopped spinning before removing them. Be careful. Don't let anything touch a spinning fan blade, as the fan will force it out of your hand and send it flying to any direction.

Step 2: Detach the fan shroud from the radiator using a wrench. Remove the bolts keeping the shroud in place and lift it to gain access to the fan. Disconnect any wiring connected to the fan.

Step 3: Loosen the bolts holding the radiator fan housing in place and remove the old fan. Some vehicle models require you to disassemble the fan clutch and take out the fan assembly first before you can install a new one. Either way, simply loosening the bolts will do the trick.

Step 4: Secure the new radiator fan in place with the set of mounting bolts you removed earlier. Reattach the wiring connected to the radiator and monitor your engine's temperature after the installation to ensure the new radiator fan is working properly.

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