If you’re a DIY person, learning how to fix a radiator fan can help you save your car engine from damage. Overheating issues often result from bad cooling fans. If you know how to, you can easily correct them. This chapter will show you how to repair a radiator fan using only a few tools. Additionally, we will be answering questions about the cost if you choose not to fix the fan yourself.
Before settling for repair, it helps to know when to do it and when not to. That’s what we will begin this chapter with: identifying fixable and on-fixable radiator fan problems. They are:
- Blown fuse, bad relay, faulty thermo switch or sensors, broken wires, loose or dirty connectors, and defective control module
- Worn clutch or snapped drive belt if you have a mechanical fan
- Damaged fan blades
- Dirty radiator fan assembly or sensor causes problems.
As we saw in the preceding chapter, one of the ways to suspect a bad radiator fan is when the engine overheats, if a check engine light has come on, or if the fan is too loud or wobbly. Also, if it works intermittently or spins at a slower speed than normal.
The fan is also bad if it doesn’t come on at the right time, or if it stays on all the time. When you are sure about the type of problem, the next step is to correct it. Learn how to fix a radiator fan next.
How to fix a Radiator Fan on your Car
First, identify the type of cooling fan your car uses. That’s because the repair options are different. The repair process too, including the parts to take out when removing the fan. Let’s start with the tools and materials that you will be using.
- Ratchet and socket set
- Set of screwdrivers
- Digital multimeter
- Jumper cables
- Cleaner (degreaser) and piece of cloth
Ensure that you have all these items before commencing repair. Ensure, also, that the engine is cool to avoid injuries then use the procedure below. The radiator fan repair process starts below.
Step 1 Confirm if the radiator Fan is not working
You want to be sure that you have a bad radiator fan, especially if you suspect so because the temperature gauge indicates overheating or if a dashboard light came on.
- Start your car and allow the engine to idle
- Switch on the car AC and set it to MAX. The engine fan should come on. If working on an older vehicle type, you may have to wait for at least 20 minutes before the fan can start spinning
- If the fan doesn’t spin, you could be having a bad component within the wiring, or the fan motor could be damaged. The fan may also come on but appear wobbly due to worn parts, produce a lot of noise, or rotate slow, among other problems. Proceed to the next step if that happens.
Step 2 Test the Radiator Fan Motor
Testing the fan will help you identify the particular part that’s causing the fan not to work, starting with the motor. The easiest way to check a radiator fan motor is by using jumper wires to connect it to the battery.
- Trace the fan motor wire up to where it attaches to the motor assembly and unplug the connector
- Use your car manual to identify the power terminals. Some older fans will only have two terminals, positive and negative. Modern ones will usually have 3 or 4 terminals, the additional ones representing the high and low speed circuits
- Using your jumper wires, connect the motor to the battery using the appropriate connector terminals. The motor should start spinning. If it doesn’t, replace it or the entire fan assembly especially if the blades are intact.
- If the motor spins when powered directly, the problem is elsewhere. Move to the next step
Step 3 Test the Radiator Fan Fuse
It’s a common problem to have the fuse blow when too much current flows, especially when the motor is strains to spin or if there’s shorting.
- Locate the radiator fan fuse. Use the car manual if unable to find it.
- Test the fuse. You may use a digital multimeter or visual examination to check for circuit continuity. If working on an older vehicle, you may have a breaker instead.
- If the fuse is blown, replace it and test the fan. It should work. If the motor fails to come on, the problem is a different component. Proceed to the next step
Step 4 Test the Radiator Fan Thermo Switch (Sensor)
The temperature switch operates the fan by switching it on and off. If faulty, it means a fan that won’t work as expected. Use these steps to check it.
- Locate the switch using your car manual and remove it’s connector
- Using your jumper wires, direct power to the fan so that it bypasses the switch.
- The fan may come on or fail to. If it spins, the temperature switch is the problem. Replace it.
- If the fan fails to work even with the temperature switch or sensors out of the way, test the relay in the next step.
Step 5 Check the Radiator Fan Relay
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, the relay is the switch that allows the fan to receive current. With time, it’s likely to go bad and cut off power to the fan. The relay may also close contacts and cause the motor to spin without stopping.
- Locate the relay. It’s normally mounted somewhere in the fuse box
- Pull out the relay and test it using a digital multimeter
- Another better (and easier) method involves using a working relay in its place
- If the relay proves to be faulty, replace it. If not, continue to the next step
Step 6 Examine the Radiator Fan Wires and Connector
Having tested every component of the engine fan cooling system, it’s time to check the cables and connector. Wires can break or get frayed, among other forms of damage. Connectors can corrode, accumulate dirt, or loosen.
- Trace the fan’s wires and connectors
- Examine them for damage that could be preventing adequate current from reaching the fan motor
- Clean dirty connectors
- Replace broken and frayed cables or dirty, broken and corroded connectors
Step 7 Repair Radiator Fan Motor and Blade Assembly
Replacing components in the above steps may not fix the problem. In that case, you need to repair the motor or blade assembly. These steps explain how to fix a radiator fan by repairing the motor or changing the blade assembly
- Disconnect the battery
- Locate the radiator fan and disconnect the wiring harness
- Remove the bolts that mount the radiator and pull it out
- Using a piece of cloth and degreaser, clean the fan
- Examine the fan assembly for damage. Check to see if the blades are broken, bent, or cracked. Replace the blade assembly if damaged
- Next, unbolt or unclip the motor and separate it from the assembly
How to Repair Radiator Fan Motor
Here is how to repair radiator fan motor parts by cleaning or changing them. Note that you could choose to replace the motor instead. This part of the repair process will mostly appeal to enthusiasts who are fond of tearing down components for repair.
- Unhook the radiator fan motor end plate from the housing. This will expose the inside of the motor
- Start by inspecting the brushes. Clean them if in good condition and replace if worn.
- Next, pull out the motor armature coil. This is the part that contains the coil windings mounted on the motor’s shaft alongside the commutator
- Clean the inside of the motor housing and the armature. The commutator too, to remove non-conductive burned spots.
- Reassemble the cleaned parts of the motor and replace the end plate with the new brushes
- Bolt the motor to the fan blade assembly
- Mount the repaired fan and test it. It should run as required. If it doesn’t, consider installing a new one.
Radiator Fan Repair Cost
Car owners who know how to fix a radiator fan may still take their cars to a mechanic for repair. Let’s see how much you’re likely to spend when you do that. We will also be looking at the cost when you choose do-it-yourself repair.
Many repair shops will charge you around $50-$200 to repair your car’s engine fan. The cost depends on many factors. It varies by the nature of damage, with inexpensive and easy-to-fix parts such as fuse and relay costing less than replacing major parts.
A car radiator fan motor repair cost, for example, lies between$100 and $150. When the problem is a failed sensor, ECU, or relay and fuse, the amount is usually lower. Other factors that determine the radiator cooling fan repair cost include the type of fan, type of car, and the labor charges in your area.
What if you carry out the repair yourself? If you do, you will only spend money on the part that needs replacing. That should cost you less than a hundred dollars, on average, which is low enough. However some fans are low cost enough to outweigh the benefits of fewer. Ensure that the radiator fan repair cost for your type of car doesn’t exceed that of replacing.
Learning how to fix a radiator fan offers several benefits. First, you have a say on when to service your car and the time it takes to do so. The wait to get your car looked into at a radiator fan repair shop can be up to a day or more. Many car owners find that too long. A DIY repair also allows you to check other components