A clutch fan is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important engine parts designed to help balance a safe temperature zone in your automobile.
But when it goes wrong, some people don’t even realize that, as they are completely in the dark about the symptoms of bad clutch fan.
If you are in the same boat, check our article to gain more in-depth knowledge about this essential engine.
What Is A Clutch Fan?
A fan clutch is a cooling fan, generally driven by a bell or pull and based in the front of a car water pump.
Its fundamental function is to alleviate the unnecessary burden on the motor mechanism by blowing air flow through the radiator to cool the engine when abnormal changes in the car temperature arise.
For instance, when the temperature in an automobile surpasses the normal threshold, a fan clutch is engaged to move air and consequently cool the engine.
Therefore, it is vital to engine operation, as a slipping clutch fan can render failed cooling. Increased engine strain accordingly follows, resulting in the breakdown problem and poor fuel efficiency.
There are three types of clutch fans that people should know before exploring the next symptom section.
These kinds of fans are classified upon the design and make of manufactured brands. Let’s check this list out:
A Thermal Fan Clutch
This fan clutch will deal with the airflow pouring over the radiator by directly affecting and responding to it.
More specifically, a core coil in the middle of a thermal clutch fan will let its internal valve out when meeting the heated air.
After moving through the heated radiator, this air will be cooled down immediately under the effect of the silicon fluid released by the valve. Hence, the overall temperature of the engine is also lowered.
A Torque-limiting Fan Clutch
This type is special as it does not directly react to the air temperature but the car’s velocity.
The fan blades are locked to the valley since the heavy silicone fluid is permitted to let out from the centrifugal valve.
When you drive your car at high speed, this torque-limiting fan clutch will gradually be activated and free-wheel between 2500 and 3000 RPM, while the reverse holds true for an idle or low velocity.
An Electronic Fan Clutch
This fan also has functions similar to the two clutch types mentioned above, but it does not directly respond to the temperature or vehicle speed.
As its name suggests, the electrically controlled clutch fan is run by the powertrain module station (PCM).
In other words, depending on particular situations, such as idle or high engine speed and above a previously programmed temperature threshold, it will be switched on or disengaged by the PCM.
Symptoms Of Bad Clutch Fan – 4 Crucial Signs
What are the symptoms of a bad fan clutch? Following are four common indicators that you should know about:
When you drive at a low speed or pull up your car, the exceeding heat of your engine persists.
Sometimes, you can notice the car overheating and not starting. This can be the first sign of a bad clutch fan.
If the fan experiences an operation failure or breakdown, it cannot let the cool airflow off to lower the engine heat. The automotive mechanism cannot dissipate the excess heat as a consequence.
You can spot this fan clutch bad symptom easily, especially in winter. When the clutch fan fails, it can be engaged all the time without being turned off.
Therefore, if the fan seizes, the engine is excessively cooled off. Coupled with the freezing outside temperature, insufficient heat is inevitable.
Excess Fan Noise
At a high velocity, the engine and systems in your car have to work harmoniously together at an intense level to create power for the wheels.
Accordingly, when the engine noise is abnormally louder, something wrong happens inside your car and disrupts the whole operation. It can be your clutch fan being crushed and shattered by flexing blades.
Another faulty fan clutch symptom is the nonstop spinning of a fan. If the fan still runs relentlessly after the entire engine is shut down, this may indicate some problems.
Normally, the leaked silicone fluid is the main culprit behind this issue. This fluid is often released by the internal valve under the control of a clutch fan.
When it gets broken, the fluid is still poured out when heated air comes, causing the fan to spin.
How To Check For A Bad Clutch Fan?
There are two main methods of inspecting a defective clutch fan:
Detecting Problems While Driving
Step 1: Keep An Eye On The Air Temperature
Switch on the car air-conditioning and press the button down to the lowest level.
Carefully babysit the airflow, as when you don’t feel cool after a couple of minutes or detect an intake of warm air, there can be a problem.
- Keep your hand 2-3 inches away from the vent so that you can sense the air variation noticeably.
- Try this way with different vents.
Step 2: Listen To Unusual Noise
As mentioned earlier, that the excessive noise can be audible from the inside cabin is a sign of the fan system breakdown. So it is advisable for you to take this bad fan clutch symptom into account.
After diagnosing the symptom, you can check the car AC by holding your hand in front of the vent, as the warm air passage can be blown back through the AC.
Step 3: Start Your Automobile And Look Into The Fan
Warm your engine up after a few minutes. Then the clutch fan should kick in subsequently. Below are some tips for you to check:
- There is no sign of fan engagement when the AC is activated.
- The fan is not switched on while the car temperature reaches over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Some clutch fans come with a thermometer placed on the instrumental panel. Pay attention to the temperature to know when the fan speed increases.
Step 4: Heighten Your Car Speed And Watch Whether The Fan Slows Down Or Stops
Hit your accelerator pedal and raise the automobile velocity under 2500 RPMs. If your clutch fan is out of order, it will remain at the same cooling rate, which leads to excessive engine cooling.
You should perform this test in some spacious areas for others’ safety because when you unintentionally increase the speed too much, the car can lose control and, in turn, cause accidents.
Examining The Fan Clutch Manually
Step 1: Apply The Handbrake
You must ensure your car is completely stationary with the engine off by pressing the handbrake or popping the hood.
Don’t inspect or fix any problems with the engine compartment while the car is still running, as it is absolutely dangerous.
Step 2: Locate The Fan Clutch
You can find the fan between the engine and the radiator in front of the water pump.
Its appearance is quite similar to a ceiling or household fan, but its size is bigger, around 30 centimeters high, with either a rectangular or round shape.
Step 3: Examine The General Condition
You can also notice the symptom of a bad fan clutch without a hitch, shown by the structural displacement.
Normally, the fan blades are lined up with the radiator. These two mechanism parts stand neatly together with the engine inside the housing.
Step 4: Feel The Excess Movement Of The Fan And Housing
Wiggle each blade carefully to check if they get broken or damaged. Besides, the metal housing also needs examining.
If you find any pieces that show signs of rattling, all you need to do is to replace them in the nick of time.
Step 5: Spot-check For Oil Leaks
Behind the fan clutch hides a small oil reservoir designed to release oil and keep the fan running smoothly. When the oil leaks from the main chamber, you can easily note it with your naked eyes.
Another way to check for signs of bad fan clutch is that you can move your fingers around the reservoir to find out any coating of oil left.
Step 6: Turn The Fan By Hand
Grab the edge of one blade and push it nicely. Ideally, the fan should not rotate less than three complete rounds or spin more than one and a half times.
Excessive resistance can indicate that the clutch is prone to binding. On the contrary, it can slip when there is too much free-wheeling.
Step 7: Have Your Fan Clutch Diagnosed By Professionals
Sometimes, although you cannot find the root of the problem, you can find one but don’t know how to resolve it.
The most feasible solution is to have your car towed to the automotive service garage if it is unable to operate properly.
Qualified mechanics here will explore signs of a bad clutch fan and undertake the necessary steps to help your fan operate properly again.
Useful Tips For A Bad Clutch Fan
We will present some straightforward tips for you to find out bad clutch fan symptoms:
- Always set the temperature inside your automobile below 99 degrees Celsius to avert the engine overheating problem.
- If you want to gain a definite outcome of the air temperature passing via the radiator, use a thermometer to read.
- It would be best if you replace both the clutch fan and water pump. These two are interconnected and may be worn out together over time.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, our post has offered you significant insights into the symptoms of bad clutch fan so that you can diagnose and repair your automobile on your own.
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