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Is Your Car Radiator Fan Broken? 3 Common Signs It’s Time for a Replacement

Car radiator fan

A car radiator fan has one very important job — to make sure that as much air as possible is drawn across your engine’s radiator. This helps to ensure that your motor is able to maintain a safe and stable temperature no matter how fast you’re driving or how hot external temperatures get.

When a fan starts to act up, it’s important to move quickly in order to avoid potential damage to your vehicle. Check out these three common signs it’s time for a replacement fan.

1. Temperature Creep While Idling or Driving Slowly

If you’ve started to notice your vehicle’s temperature gauge edging closer to the red than normal when sitting in traffic, parked or moving very slowly through gridlock, that’s typically a sign that your car radiator fan isn’t engaging. Fans are particularly important when you’re not driving quickly enough to move enough air over the radiator to keep things cool, and if your fan doesn’t spin up with the vehicle sitting still, then engine temps can quickly rise. Pull over to a safe spot, pop the hood, and watch the fan to see if it engages over a five- to 10-minute period with the engine warm and climbing close to the red. Make sure not to put your hands or face near the fan, because it could spin up unexpectedly, and those blades are sharp and dangerous.

2. Blown Fuse

Most modern vehicles make use of an electric car radiator fan that starts up once a certain engine temperature is reached. Sometimes, when the electric motor begins to wear out, has failed or has issues with bad wiring, the fuse that controls the fan relay will blow out. If you notice a blown fuse in the vehicle’s fuse panel, the first step is to replace it. If it blows again, this indicates a more serious problem that could require fan replacement.

3. Noisy Fanmechanical fan clutch

Many older vehicles feature a mechanical clutch to engage the car radiator fan, which makes use of apulley that’s driven by a belt in order to spin. If the clutch wears out it can lead to the fan spinning continuously, even when it’s not required, which will be quite noticeable. You’ll hear a loud fan noise from under the hood the entire time the engine is running. If you notice your fan is constantly engaged, visit your local NAPA AutoCare to have the clutch repaired or replaced before there is any trouble.

Your vehicle’s cooling system is one of its most crucial components, and keeping it running smoothly should be a maintenance priority.

Check out all the heating and cooling products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on dealing with potential problems with your car radiator fan, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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