Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Fan Clutch

fan clutch

The fan clutch is a cooling system component that controls the operation of the engine cooling fans. While many newer vehicles now use electric cooling fans to keep the engine cool, many older vehicles used a mechanical fan clutch to control the fans. The fan clutch is a thermostatic device, which means it operates based off temperature, and is usually mounted on the water pump, or another belt driven pulley. The fan clutch will spin loosely until the temperature reaches a certain level, at which point the fan clutch will fully engage so that the fan can work at maximum efficiency. As the fan clutch is a cooling system component, any issues with it can cause overheating and other issues. Usually a bad or failing fan clutch will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

1. Vehicle overheating

One of the first symptoms that is commonly associated with a bad or failing fan clutch is an overheating engine. The fan clutch is responsible for controlling the operation of the cooling fans. A bad fan clutch may not engage properly or at all, and as a result, will disable the fans or prevent them from working at maximum efficiency. This may result in the engine overheating, which will lead to more serious issues if left unattended.

2. Excessively loud cooling fans

Another common symptom of a faulty fan clutch is excessively loud cooling fans. If the fan clutch gets stuck in the engaged position, which is not uncommon, it will cause the fans to fully engage even when it is not desirable for them to be on. This may result in an excessively loud engine from the fan blowing at full speed. The sound may be easily audible and present at all times when the engine is cold and hot.

3. Decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency

A decrease in performance is another symptom of a bad or failing fan clutch. A faulty fan clutch that leaves the fan permanently engaged will not only cause a noisy engine, but can also cause a decrease in performance. A stuck fan clutch will cause excessive, unnecessary drag on the engine, which can cause a drop in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency, sometimes to a quite noticeable degree.

As the fan clutch is one of the main cooling system components, it is very important to the proper operation of the engine. When it fails, the engine can be put at risk of serious damage due to overheating. If your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, or you suspect that your fan clutch may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the car will need a fan clutch replacement.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.

ASK A QUESTION

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...


Related questions

Q: Rattling Noise coming from the Fan behind the radiator

The cooling fan clutch failure is a common problem with the B5 chassis A4 and VW Passat. When replacing the fan clutch, inspect the fan blade for any cracks as well. If any area of the blade looks suspect, replace...

Q: Oxygen sensor overheating

I think what you are talking about is an oxygen sensor (O2) heater malfunction. Modern O2 sensors use a heater element with a dedicated circuit to bring the sensor up to operating temperature quickly. Once at operating temperature, the powertrain...

Q: I replaced the clutch, now it is hard to shift into first and reverse

From what you describe it would appear that your vehicle may be experiencing issues with the clutch hydraulic system. If the system is leaking fluid, it can cause the clutch to have problems engaging and disengaging. The clutch hydraulic system...