How does Radiator Fan work? | Symptoms of Bad Cooling Fan

The radiator fan is one of the major parts of the engine cooling system. The radiator fan is also known as a cooling fan. All latest vehicles have a cooling fan to extract heat from the coolant circulating throughout the engine. It helps to protect the engine from overheating. If your car has a failed radiator fan, it is not possible to circulate air through the radiator to cool the coolant and then cool the engine. As the radiator fan goes bad, it generates different signs through that you can identify and fix the fan. This article explains the different aspects of the radiator fan.

What is Radiator Fan?

The radiator fan is a part of the cooling system that blows cold air through the radiator to lower the temperature of the coolant and cool the car engine. The radiator fan is located between the engine and the radiator. It is especially helpful when the vehicle is stationary or running very slowly to pump air to the grill.

Radiator Fan
Reference: mechanicbase.com

The main function of the cooling fan is to extract the coolant heat and prevents the engine from overheating. Therefore, the efficient working of the fan is very important to prevent the engine from overheating and other damage.

This fan blows air via the radiator to lower the engine temperature. It is often employed at low speeds and will idle when air cannot flow naturally by the system.

If the air that cools the radiator does not flow through the radiator, the engine will start to overheat.

The engine overheating is one of the most common symptoms of a bad cooling fan. Also, the air conditioning performance may be poor than usual, or you may hear a growling noise coming from the engine compartment.

Working of Radiator Cooling Fan

As the engine temperature becomes more than the normal temperature, the water pump activates, which pumps the coolant from the radiator to the engine through hoses.

As the coolant flows throughout the engine, it absorbs the additional heat of the engine and reduces the engine temperature.

When the coolant absorbs engine heat, the coolant temperature increases, and converts into the hot coolant.

The pump transfers this hot coolant back into the radiator. As the hot coolant enters the radiator, the cooling fan activates, and it takes fresh air from the environment and blows through the coolant.

As the air blows through the coolant, it absorbs coolant heat and cools it. This hot air is transferred into the heater core, from where it is transferred into the car compartment.

The cold coolant is sent back into the engine, and the whole process repeats.

Function of Radiator Fan

The main functions of the radiator fan are given below

  1. The main function of the cooling fan is to remove excess heat from the engine and coolant. When the coolant extracts the engine heat, it goes into the radiator, where the fan blows cold air and removes the coolant heat.
  2. It can work efficiently when the engine is off, and air cannot flow through the grille.
  3. A cooling fan assists in attaining atmospheric air flow when it’s moving too slowly.
  4. The electric cooling fan regulates the car temperature by turning it on and off according to the engine temperature.

Types of Radiator Fans

The radiator fan has the following major types:

1) Mechanical radiator fans

Mechanical radiator fans are old-style automotive fans, but they are still used in many vehicles. This type of cooling fan directly connects to the engine water pump pulley. It is driven by a belt. A crankshaft is connected to the fan. This crankshaft takes power from the engine and turns the fan.  

These cooling fans have a less complex design than the electric fans. They are employed in many non-automotive applications because they are not very complex and only require mechanical force to rotate.

2) Electric radiator cooling fan

This type of radiator cooling fan is powered by the electric system of the vehicle, not the engine. It locates directly to the radiator for efficient cooling. It is fully tightened with nuts and bolts. These radiator fans contain a DC motor that turns on and off according to the temperature of the engine. This can be done via the coolant temperature switch or the engine control unit.

Signs of a Bad Radiator Fan

As the radiator cooling fan goes bad, it produces one of the below-given signs. If you notice any sign of the faulty radiator fan, you must replace or repair it as soon as possible.

1) Engine Overheating

The engine overheating is one of the first symptoms of a bad cooling fan. The main function of the cooling fan is to cool the hot coolant properly and prevents the engine from overheating. As the fan fails, the coolant will be unable to properly extract the engine due to that engine will overheat.

The engine overheating may generate the following issues:

  1. First, the engine may be badly damaged, which leads to more repair work.
  2. Second, the vehicle may not be able to drive until you fix the problem.

2) Air Conditioner Function Diminished

The engine works harder under high temperatures outside the vehicle. Therefore, the vehicle has an AC fan to maintain the temperature inside the vehicle and engine. If the radiator fan has problems, the AC fan may run out its power, and the AC function may deteriorate.

3) Loud Noise Coming from Cooling Fan

If any part of the radiator fan is damaged, you may hear loud noises. You must understand how your car performs, including the unusual noises coming from the engine compartment. In such a case, immediately contact the mechanic to fix the problem.

4) Hot Coolant

The coolant is a liquid used to extract the engine temperature. It ensures the proper cooling of the engine. As the coolant extracts the engine heat, it becomes hot and sent into the radiator, where the radiator fan cools the coolant. If the fan is failed, the coolant doesn’t cool and causes engine overheating.

5) Temperature Warning Light

The temperature warning light shows a problem with the cooling system. This light is located on the vehicle dashboard. This light shows a warning because of the high engine temperature.

In such condition, turn off the engine and waits for cooling. After engine cooling, inspect the vehicle and find the reason for the engine high temperature. The temperature warning light may appear because the cooling fan is defective or underperforming.

6) Fan Doesn’t Come On

When the cooling fan stops working, it means that your radiator fan has gone bad. In such conditions, the fan motor may burn out or malfunction.

In any way, if the fan is not working, you should understand that there is a problem with the fan. If this continues, it may lead to bigger problems.

7) Blown Radiator Fan Fuse

Maximum parts of the electric vehicles are used circuit fuses. Similarly, the cooling fan also has a fuse. As the fuse blows, the fan motor stops working. In case of a blown or burned fuse, the fan couldn’t receive power from the system.

The fan motor failure or power surge can also blow a fuse and prevent damage to other components. In case of a blown fuse, you must replace it immediately for the efficient working of the fan.

Causes of a Bad Radiator Fan Assembly

The radiator fan assembly may fail due to multiple reasons such as age and mileage of the vehicle. The vehicles that daily travel long-distance or stop frequently are prone to failure of the radiator fan assembly.

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