Car engine blower – everything you need to know

Your car’s engine is made up of dozens of different parts all working together to make it run properly. One of the most obvious and well-known by-products of your car’s engine is heat. The exchange of heat in your engine is important, and one of the components most closely linked to this process is the car engine fan, also known as the car engine cooling fan.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at what these fans are, what they do, what types there are, and how to tell when yours is in trouble. Consider this blog your unofficial guide to everything related to your car’s engine fan.

What is a motor fan? How it works?

The engine cooling fan, sometimes also known as the fan clutch, is a component typically located in front of or behind the radiator. The fan normally spins freely when the temperature in the engine is low and then kicks in when the temperature rises. In some cars, after a long drive, you can stop, turn off the engine and get out of the car but still hear a humming sound from under the hood, which is usually the fan still running to help cool the engine more quickly.

This delayed function is important because it is actually crucial that the engine warms up properly first to ensure that it runs safely and properly. Cooling it down in the early stages is not good for the overall functioning of the engine. The fan itself is driven by a belt and pulley connected to the crankshaft. When the engine temperature reaches a certain predetermined level, the fan kicks in properly, drawing in more air and blowing it out to maintain a safe temperature or even lower the temperature slightly until it returns to acceptable levels.

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What Are the Different Types of Motor Fans?

Generally speaking, there are two types of motor fans, mechanical and electric. The first is divided into two types, which we will describe in more detail in this section.

Flexible Fan

A flex fan is the first type of mechanical fan commonly used in cars. They contain a steel frame and the blades are usually plastic or steel, but sometimes another material. Unlike its mechanical brother, the clutch fan, the flexible fan does not use a clutch and runs at the same speed as the water pump. As the RPMs increase, the blades also flatten out to allow for optimized cooling, but with less drag than you might get on a clutch fan. This makes flex fans ideal for modified and/or high performance vehicles.

clutch fan

The clutch fan works in conjunction with a thermostat and uses a clutch to engage or disengage at specific speeds, RPMs or temperatures. At any given time, the clutch fan is turning at around one-third the speed of the water pump and the clutch continues to limit its maximum speed whether engaged or not. The construction of the fins is much simpler than the flex fan, but it has solid cooling capability and still runs up to around 6,000 rpm without too much trouble. The flexible fan manages up to 8,000 rpm.

Fan Clutch

electric fan

The first difference with electric fans is that they are not driven by the mechanical power of the engine, but rather by your car’s electrical system. This means they add a drain to your car’s electrical system, but it’s not dramatic. One advantage that people talk about with electric motor cooling fans is that they don’t cause a parasitic loss of power that some mechanical fans can cause.

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The electric fan works well in high horsepower cars and also prevents water pump wear and tear that occurs with mechanical fans. What’s more, engines are generally more fuel efficient and meet their actual horsepower ratings without draining power.

Which type of motor fan is best?

On the surface, for many people, the electric fan seems to emerge as a clear winner of the three fan types, but the truth is a little more complicated. No fan is universally better than any other. The effectiveness and value of each fan depends on the power rating, how the engine is modified and how you use the car. For an everyday run with stock engines used for commuting, school runs, and weekend rides, a mechanical fan is fine.

Those running a slightly modified or tuned engine with an increase in horsepower will find some efficiency benefits in the flex fan. Anyone with a high-performance vehicle interested in achieving a better balance between power and cooling can use an electric fan.

Symptoms of a Bad Engine Fan?

How do you know if and when your engine fan needs professional attention from a mechanic? Look out for any of the following signs.

  1. Scraping or squeaking noises – Do you hear a scraping or squeaking/squealing sound when the fan is on? It can also appear as a loud clicking sound or a strange buzzing sound. This indicates that one or more fan blades are damaged and may be making physical contact with other components.
  2. Overheating – If you suddenly notice that your car’s engine temperature is getting very hot, it could be a sign that the fan has suddenly stopped working or that it is not running at full capacity.
  3. Your air conditioner is suffering – Another function of the engine cooling fan is to draw air through the A/C Condenser and remove the heat from the coolant. If your air conditioner isn’t working well and you notice other symptoms on this list, you can add 2 and 2 together.

car engine fan

What causes engine fan failure?

Engine fans start to fail for a variety of reasons, but the most common are as follows:

  • Blown cooling fan fuse – check the fuse board to see if you can see a blown one
  • Faulty temperature switch
  • Faulty coolant sensor
  • Engine thermostat is stuck open
  • General wear on fan blades

Can I drive my car if the engine fan is not working?

It is not safe to drive your car without a working fan. Overheating is one of the main causes of engine damage and even engine failure. You can take a short (and slow) trip to the repair shop, but beyond that it’s not a good idea.

car fan

How much does it cost to replace a car engine fan?

Unfortunately, replacing a car engine fan isn’t that cheap. It should be around $465 in parts and another $120-150 in labor, and possibly more depending on a number of factors. Needing a budget of $600 to replace your car’s engine fan is not an uncommon scenario.

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