Auto Servicing for Cars That Don't Do Many Kilometres

Five Signs Your Fan Clutch May Need to Be Replaced

Your vehicle’s cooling system relies on a number of parts. For example, there is a thermometer that tracks the temperature of the engine. If the thermometer detects overly hot temps, it essentially sends a message to the radiator to send more coolant through the engine. In some vehicles, there is also a fan to cool the engine and a clutch that helps the fan turn on and off.

If your cooling system is having issues, there are a long list of culprits you could blame. Wondering if the fan clutch is the issue? Here are several signs that it is:

1. Your engine is overheating.

The first and most common sign that you have a problem with your radiator, fan clutch or any other part of your car’s cooling system is an overheating engine. All vehicles have gauges in them that show whether or not the engine is getting too hot. If your gauge is frequently climbing up to dangerously high levels, there may be a problem with your fan clutch or one of the other parts of your car.

Remember you should not drive your car when this gauge says the engine is too hot. If you continue to run the vehicle, the engine may overheat, and that could result in having to put in a whole new engine.

2. You have troubleshooted all of the other issues.

If you have replaced your thermostat, all the hoses seemed to be connected correctly, there are no cracks in your radiator and your radiator has been flushed recently, the remaining culprit may be the fan clutch. In some cases, accessing the fan clutch means taking apart most of the engine. As a result, you may want to turn the job over to a professional so they can help you definitively detect whether or not the issue is the clutch.

However, if you can see your fan clutch, you can do a bit of troubleshooting yourself. The position of the fan clutch varies from car to car. In some cases, the fan clutch is located to the side of the radiator, and in other cases, it is located near the front of the engine block right behind the grill of your car. 

3. The clutch is loose.

If you can see and reach your fan clutch, you can try to check its condition by seeing how well secured it is. If the entire fan wobbles, that can be a sign of trouble. In particular, it could mean that a bearing is loose.

However, in some cases, the loose bearing may be in the water pump. If you can reach the water pump (which is often behind the fan), check for looseness. If it is loose, the pump may be the issue, but if it is secure, the fan clutch may be the issue.

4. The fan blades spin too easily.

If the case around the fan seems relatively stable, try spinning the fan’s blades. The blades should spin, but there should also be some resistance. If the blades don’t spin, that means the fan has seized, and you typically need a new one. Alternatively, if the blades spin too easily, that is a sign that the clutch is slipping and not holding the fan blades as it should.

5. The fan sounds noisy all the time.

In some cases, a malfunctioning fan clutch prevents the fan from starting in the first place. In other cases, a malfunctioning fan clutch causes the fan to run all the time. If you can hear the fan running every time you drive the car, that is a definite sign that you may need a repair or a replacement. The fan should only kick in at select times as needed based on the temperature of the engine.

Ready to learn more about fan clutches? Contact a radiator shop or an expert in vehicle cooling systems.

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