Blog Car Care Advice 4 Prominent Symptoms of a Bad Fan Clutch (How to Fix it)
Car Care Advice

4 Prominent Symptoms of a Bad Fan Clutch (How to Fix it)

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A fan clutch is one of the unsung heroes that keeps your engine cool and road trips smooth. But if you have a bad one, it can cause everything from an overheated engine to an out-of-control cooling fan

Not if you spot and fix it fast!
Let’s explore a few symptoms of a bad fan clutch, how to check and fix them, and what causes a fan clutch to wear out.  

This Article Contains:

Keep cool and read on.

4 Common Symptoms of a Bad Fan Clutch

Here are a few tell-tale signs that’ll help you clue into the problem:

1. Engine Overheating

When the fan clutch wears out from years of service or heavy use, it loses its ability to operate the cooling or radiator fan efficiently. As a result, the engine may heat up even at low speeds or stay heated for a long time — leading to engine overheating

Note: Lack of coolant or a bad radiator can also cause an overheated engine. 

2. Loud Cooling Fans

Do you hear unusual clicking or squealing noises when your engine’s not running or the AC’s on?
It’s usually caused by a clutch shoe stuck in an engaged position, which makes the cooling fan run at full speed — resulting in a loud fan noise.  

Additionally, poor wheel bearings and a broken fan clutch blade can also cause loud sounds in the cooling system. 

3. Reduced Engine Performance

A stuck fan clutch means your cooling fan will keep spinning with the water pump shaft. That’s because the fan clutch connects the engine fan and water pump shaft. This affects the engine’s performance as it can’t cool down properly. As a result, your car might feel sluggish, accelerate slower, and sip more fuel.

4. Continuous Fan Spins

If your cooling fan keeps spinning even after the engine is off, you may have a silicon fluid leak.

How does that happen?
Fan clutches contain a silicone fluid that helps control the fan blade. When you have a fan clutch failure due to the fluid leak, it’ll make the radiator fan spin when it shouldn’t.

So how do you check if something is wrong with your fan clutch?
Let’s find out.

How to Check a Bad Fan Clutch

Fan clutches don’t have a set mileage for the part to last. That’s why it’s important to watch out for early signs and check your fan clutches. And if you’re not confident with car parts, it’s best to have a professional perform the diagnosis for you. 

Here’s how a mechanic will check if you have a bad clutch:

Next, let’s find out how a mechanic will replace a bad clutch.

How to Replace a Bad Fan Clutch (Step-By-Step)

While you can repair the fan clutch, in most instances, it’s best to replace it.
Here’s what your mechanic will do:

  1. Take out the air intake hose, fan shroud, and serpentine belt to access the fan clutch.
  1. Next, unbolt the fan using a socket wrench.
  1. Gently rock the fan side to side to slide it off the water pump shaft.
  1. Place the fan on a table with the fan shaft facing them. They will then separate the fan clutch from the fan by removing the four large bolts that hold the clutch in place.
  1. Next, align the new fan clutch with the bolt holes and gently screw the nuts. They’ll ensure the threading on the bolts properly line up with the nuts. 
  1. Reassemble the remaining parts and start your car to check for any issues.

Still have some doubts about fan clutches?
Let’s tackle them next.

4 FAQs about Fan Clutches

Here are the answers to some frequently asked fan clutch-related questions:

1. What Does a Fan Clutch Do?

A fan clutch is a thermostatic device that’s responsible for regulating the engine temperature. 

When the engine is at a normal operating temperature, the fan clutch doesn’t engage and lets the cooling fan freewheel. This warms up the engine quickly and helps save fuel.

But when the engine heats up, usually at around 180-190°F, the clutch engages the engine fan and cools the engine by about 20°F before disengaging.

2. What Are the Different Types of Fan Clutches?

There are three types of fan clutches: 

3. What Causes a Fan Clutch to Fail?

Excessive, abrupt torque can wear out fan clutches along with other vital car components like belts, tensioners, and cooling fans. High torque demand can also wear out the bearings, ultimately affecting your fan clutch.

4. How Much Will a Bad Fan Clutch Replacement Cost?

Depending on your car’s make, model, and type of fan clutch used, you may have to pay around $140 and $400 for fan clutch replacement. The labor charges can cost you around $70-$130, while a new fan clutch and related parts can go as high as $300. 

Wrapping Up

A failing fan clutch can sneak up on you with an overheating engine, sluggish performance, and louder-than-life surprises. However, checking and fixing a bad clutch on your own can be tricky as it involves careful handling of multiple parts. 

Instead, you can leave it to the seasoned mechanics at AutoNation Mobile Service.

We are a mobile auto repair service available seven days a week. We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all your repairs.

Contact us to get your fan clutch fixed right away!