Cars are ingeniously designed machines with numerous moving parts that need to work in unison to achieve efficient operation. If even one part isn’t working well, the performance of the whole vehicle will suffer. Unfortunately, there are times when fixing that lone problematic piece can be quite difficult.
Removing a failing fan clutch in particular can be a troublesome ordeal. Using a specialized tool makes removing it easier, but many don’t want to purchase a uni-tasker such as that. The good news is that removing the fan clutch is possible even without turning to that special tool.
You can remove the fan clutch without the special tool by using a box wrench and hammer. Fit the inch and a half box wrench over the fan clutch and hit it repeatedly with the hammer. Continue striking the box wrench with the hammer until the fan clutch comes loose.
The fan clutch is an essential component of your car’s engine. Make sure you know how to handle it properly if it ever starts to act up. Read on to learn more about the importance of the fan clutch and how you should handle it moving forward.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Fan Clutch?
- How Does the Fan Clutch Work?
- What Are the Different Types of Fan Clutches?
- What Are the Signs of a Failing Fan Clutch?
- How to Remove the Fan Clutch Without a Specialized Tool
- Why Should You Avoid Using the Specialized Tool for Removing the Fan Clutch?
- Related Questions
What Is a Fan Clutch?
Maintaining the right temperature is essential to proper car maintenance. It’s why heating your garage and similar maintenance measures are often recommended by car experts. The car’s engine tends to get pretty hot while in operation. It needs to be cooled down at certain points in order for it to continue running as intended.
A cooling fan is tasked with the job of lowering the heat level of your car’s engine. Most of the time, the fan in question is not moving too quickly. It’s only when a certain threshold is reached that the fan starts working faster.
The job of the fan clutch is to basically allow the cooling fan to spin at the required speed. If the clutch is damaged, it won’t be able to engage the fan as needed. The cooling fan will also be rendered incapable of providing the required amount of cooling.
How Does the Fan Clutch Work?
Found inside the fan clutch is a reservoir that holds a special kind of silicone-based oil. That oil is what creates friction between the pieces inside the engine. Those pieces then allow the fan to spin faster.
As soon as a certain threshold is crossed, valves along the fan clutch open up and allow the oil to flow. The oil then goes to the area around the clutch where it can aid the fan’s performance. The fan clutch will continue to boost the fan’s speed until the element that triggered it returns to normal.
What Are the Different Types of Fan Clutches?
There are three different types of fan clutches used in cars. They are the thermal fan clutches, the non-thermal fan clutches, and the electric variants.
Thermal Fan Clutches
Thermal fan clutches detect the temperature inside the engine. They then use that temperature reading to determine if they need to engage the fan.
Notably, thermal fan clutches are also available in three levels. You can choose from installing a standard, heavy-duty, or severe duty thermal fan clutch. Those types of thermal fan clutches affect the cooling fan in different ways.
Non-Thermal Fan Clutches
Non-thermal fan clutches rely on rpm instead of temperature to determine when they need to work. When the rpm is low, the fan will be engaged. As you would expect, a higher rpm will cause the cooling fan to become disengaged.
Electric Fan Clutches
Some cars also rely on electric fan clutches. The computer inside the vehicle is in charge of telling the electric fan clutch when to engage or disengage the fan.
What Are the Signs of a Failing Fan Clutch?
Removing your fan clutch becomes a necessity when it can no longer do its job reliably. So, how can you tell if the fan clutch needs to be removed? Watching out for the warning signs listed below will help.
There’s Plenty of Noise Coming from Your Engine
Probably the most obvious sign that you have a problematic fan clutch is way too much noise coming from the engine. Remember that the fan clutch is responsible for both engaging and disengaging the cooling fan. With the fan clutch no longer working properly, the cooling fan may not stop spinning.
Even if the temperature inside the engine is normal, the cooling fan may be blasting away due to the clutch. You’ll likely be able to hear those noises even as you’re driving.
The Engine Is Overheating
It’s also possible that the fan clutch stopped working while the cooling fan was disengaged. Because of that, the fan is now unable to cool down the engine even when that air is desperately needed. You may notice the excessive amount of heat as soon as you go to check on your engine.
You’re Hearing Scraping Sounds
After turning off your car’s air conditioner, you may hear some unusual scraping noises coming from the engine. Don’t ignore those noises because they’re indicative of a problematic fan clutch.
Your Vehicle’s Fuel Efficiency Has Gotten Worse
Have you noticed that you need more fuel to drive around your neighborhood than you did previously? That could be because the malfunctioning fan clutch is now having an effect on the engine’s performance.
Apart from worse fuel efficiency, the overall power and acceleration of your vehicle may also suffer due to the fan clutch. Those are not the issues you want plaguing your car long-term. In order to address them properly, you need to know how to remove your vehicle’s fan clutch.
How to Remove the Fan Clutch Without a Specialized Tool
Successfully removing the fan clutch used to be so difficult that a special tool was even made for the job. Thankfully, alternative methods of removing the fan clutch have been discovered and they don’t involve that special tool.
Step 1: Prepare Some Basic Tools
For this particular job, you will only need two items. You’ll need an inch and a half box wrench and a hammer. Wearing some gloves is also a good idea to steady your grip, but you can still work without them.
Step 2: Open Up Access to the Fan Clutch
Open up your car next and go to where the engine is. You’ll find the fan and the fan clutch close by.
Crucially, you shouldn’t do anything to the fan clutch just yet. Don’t even remove the serpentine belt there because you’ll need that to solidify the hold of the box wrench.
Step 3: Get the Box Wrench into Position
Reach for your box wrench now and position that over the fan clutch. Get it as tight as it can be over the fan clutch and hold it there.
Step 4: Hit the Box Wrench
Now, pick up your hammer and start striking the end of the wrench closest to you. Keep on hitting the box wrench until the fan clutch eventually comes loose. It may take more than a few hits, but that fan clutch will come off.
Why Should You Avoid Using the Specialized Tool for Removing the Fan Clutch?
Let’s be clear here. You don’t need to avoid using the specially designed tool for removing the fan clutch. If you already have one or have no issues with purchasing it, feel free to do so.
However, some car owners may not like the idea of paying for a tool that is basically suited to one job. Furthermore, paying for a new tool is not ideal when you also have to worry about replacing the fan clutch.
The method for fan clutch removal included in this article can help car owners cut down on their expenses. It’s also a good method to know if you need to replace your fan clutch as soon as possible.
Is It Okay to Drive a Car with a Busted Fan Clutch?
Technically speaking, you can continue to use your vehicle even if the fan clutch is busted. You can still get around your neighborhood with relatively little trouble. Still, even if you can keep using your car without the fan clutch, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
For starters, continually running the car in that condition means you’re not getting the most out of your fuel. Over time, you may find yourself spending more on gas to cover a smaller amount of distance.
Driving a car with a broken fan clutch can also cause engine problems. You may end up dealing with more serious issues in the future if you fail to replace that fan clutch immediately.
What Type of Replacement Fan Clutch Should You Get for Your Car?
You shouldn’t deviate that much from what kind of fan clutch was originally inside your car. If it was using a non-thermal fan clutch, the replacement you get should be the same kind. The same principle applies for thermal and electric fan clutches.
Now, if the car was using a thermal fan clutch, you can choose to upgrade. You can go from a standard thermal clutch to a heavy or severe duty component.
Only the level of thermal fan clutch can be changed. The type of fan clutch you’re using should still be the same.
How Long Do Fan Clutches Typically Last?
Fan clutches will usually remain in working condition for about 140,000 miles. After passing that point, replacing the fan clutch may become necessary sooner rather than later.