Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Cooling/Radiator Fan Motor

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Virtually all late model vehicles and the vast majority of road going vehicles use radiator cooling fans with electric motors to keep the engine cool. The cooling fans are mounted on the radiator and work to pull air through the radiator fans to keep the engine cool, especially during idle and low speeds, where air flow through the radiator is significantly less than at road speeds. As the engine operates the coolant temperature will continue to rise, and if there is no air moving through the radiator to cool it, it will begin to overheat. It is the job of the cooling fans to provide that air flow, and they do so using electric motors.

The electric motors found on many cooling fans are not much different than regular industrial use electric motors, and are often a serviceable or replaceable component of the cooling fan assembly. As they are the component that rotates the fan blades and creates the air flow, any issues that eventually arise with the fan motors can quickly develop into other problems. Usually a bad or failing cooling fan motor will display a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential problem that should be serviced.

1. Cooling fans do not come on

The most common symptom of a faulty cooling fan motor are cooling fans that do not come on. If the cooling fan motors burn out or fail, the cooling fans will be disabled. The cooling fan motors work together with the cooling fan blades to pull air through the radiator. If the motor fails the blades will not be able to spin or generate air flow.

2. Vehicle overheating

Another symptom of a possible problem with the cooling or radiator fan motors is the vehicle overheating. The cooling fans are thermostatic and are designed to come on once a certain temperature is reached, or certain conditions are met. If the cooling fan motors fail, and disable the fans, the engine temperature will continue to climb until the engine overheats. Engine overheating, however, can also be caused by a wide variety of other problems, so having the vehicle properly diagnosed is highly recommended.

3. Blown fuse

A blown cooling fan circuit fuse is another symptom of a potential problem with the cooling fan motors. If the motors fail or surge, they may cause the fuse to blow in order to protect the rest of the system from any sort of damage due to electrical surges. The fuse will have to be replaced to restore possible functionality to the fans.

The cooling fan motors are an important component to any cooling fan assembly, and play a key role in keeping the car at safe temperatures during idle and low speeds. For this reason, if you suspect that your cooling fan motors may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to look over your vehicle and replace your cooling fan motor.


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Trung

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Trung
11 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz E420 - Oil Change - Fremont, California
Trung arrived on-time and provided excellent service and professionalism throughout! Very relatable person with trust and mechanical skills. Was able to replace air filter and tail-light last minute and give great advice for both cars i own.

Nicholas

10 years of experience
303 reviews
Nicholas
10 years of experience
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 - Starter - Houston, Texas
He was early and replaced my starter (as recommended by someone else). I thought there might be an alternator issue as my car would not start when jumped and made clicking noises. Nicholas said my alternator was fine. Car started and he left. emailed his recommendations on oil change and brake work but nothing else was recommended. I was disappointed to find my car still had same issues 3 days later (had not been driven since Nicholas made repair). now i think batter may need to be replaced and i'm left wondering why he didn't check that if he was checking alternator. Feeling a little let down that wasn't checked by the mechanic. now, i have to have someone else look at it and pay another fee. not a happy camper now.

Patrick

32 years of experience
1076 reviews
Patrick
32 years of experience
BMW 335i - Oil Change - Austin, Texas
Arrived on time, friendly, knowledgeable, and professional.

Kenneth

10 years of experience
104 reviews
Kenneth
10 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Atlanta, Georgia
Ken did a great job. Arrived on time and was very thorough with the pre-purchase inspection.

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