Radiator Fans and Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

Radiator Fans and Your
Vehicle’s Cooling System

Introduction: If you’re old enough to have been around cars a few decades ago, you’ve probably heard the term “fan belt” tossed around. Back in the day, the radiator fan in your vehicle was turned by a belt driven by the engine. While those belt-driven fans are still found in some vehicles today, most modern cars have transitioned to electric fans. 

The Basics of Cooling

As your vehicle’s engine runs, it generates a significant amount of heat; this is where the cooling system comes into play to prevent overheating. Coolant (also called antifreeze) circulates through the cooling system and captures heat from the engine. The coolant then flows into the radiator, where air cools both the radiator and the coolant before returning it to the engine to absorb more heat. The key is to keep the engine within an ideal temperature range–not too hot and not too cool.

In today’s vehicles, electric radiator fans play a pivotal role in helping to keep your engine at the optimal temperature. A switch, strategically placed within the cooling system, continuously monitors the coolant’s temperature. When the coolant’s temperature hovers at the lower end of the safe range, the switch turns off the fan motor. However, as the coolant temperature rises, the switch springs into action, turning on the fan to cool things down.

Many modern vehicles are equipped with two radiator fans. Depending on various conditions, one or both fans may be operating at any given time. When cruising at highway speeds, the rush of air over the radiator and around the engine naturally helps in controlling heat. On the flip side, city driving with frequent stops and starts doesn’t offer the same natural airflow, so radiator fans have to work overtime to maintain the optimal temperature.

Air Conditioning and Radiator Fans

If you’ve ever wondered why your radiator fan seems to be working harder when you’re using the air conditioning, here’s the answer: when you engage the A/C, it adds an extra load to the engine, generating more heat. To counter this, the radiator fan often kicks in to dissipate the extra heat created by the air conditioner, ensuring your engine doesn’t overheat under the added strain.

Maintenance Matters

Now, here’s a crucial point to remember–radiator fan motors and the switch are wear-and-tear items. Over time, they will eventually fail. If you ever find your temperature light coming on while driving, it’s likely due to a cooling system issue. At this point, it’s essential to schedule a cooling system inspection. Regular servicing will not only keep your engine running smoothly but also extend the lifespan of all the cooling system components.

Radiator fans may not be the most glamorous part of your vehicle, but they’re essential for maintaining the health of your engine. If you suspect an issue with your cooling system or are due for maintenance, schedule an appointment at EuroCar Service! We specialize in complete care for European makes, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Mini-Cooper, Fiat, Volvo, Volkswagen, Saab, Jaguar, and Smart Car

Schedule an appointment with us today at (206) 527-8828, or request an appointment through our online form.