You were probably wondering – “Will a bad fan clutch cause AC problems?”
Your vehicle’s cooling system relies on the fan clutch to control the engine cooling fan’s operation. This transfers energy from your engine belt and to the fan. Hence, it allows these components to turn at an optimal speed that cools your engine.
When your fan clutch is working well, this improves the reliability of your engine. It does this by maintaining a safe and ideal temperature range.
But what happens when your fan clutch is broken? Will this impact your AC operation? Find out more by reading this post.
Understanding How Your Fan Clutch Works
There are different types of fan clutch and each has its own function.
For instance, a thermal fan clutch reacts to the air’s temperature. When your radiator gets hot, the air that passes through it heats up and this causes the bi-metallic coil on the fan clutch to warm up, as well. Then, an internal valve is released, and then this releases a silicone fluid that locks the blades of your fan to the fan pulley.
There is also a torque-limiting fan clutch. This reacts to your engine speed. When there is too much heavy silicon fluid coming from the centrifugal valve opening, the blades lock to your fan pulley. Then, this engages completely when your vehicle is on idle or at a low speed. Eventually, it disengages as the speed increases. Moreover, it can freewheel at over 2,500 up to 3,000 RPM.
And lastly, there is an electronic fan clutch. This is not directly modulated by speed or temperature. Instead, sensors direct it when it engages. These include idle engine, very high engine threshold temperature, AC engagement, and low speed of your vehicle.
Will A Bad Fan Clutch Cause AC Problems
It is possible for a bad fan clutch to cause problems to your AC. Here are some signs of a bad fan clutch to watch out for and what can happen. Considering that it is an important component of your vehicle’s cooling system, it helps to understand what may happen when it goes bad to prevent issues to your engine and AC system
1. Overheating Engine
When your engine overheats, it is possibly due to a bad fan clutch. Since this component controls your cooling fans’ operation, the fans will not be able to work efficiently when the clutch is bad and is unable to engage well.
Hence, your engine may overheat, leading to various issues when not attended to promptly. Some people dismiss this possibility and simply add coolant or water to the radiator when instead, there is a deeper problem than that.
2. Very Loud Fan Noise
A bad fan clutch usually runs the risk of getting stuck in an operating position. Hence, it engages fully even when not intended to. This also produces a loud sound from your engine when your fan is blowing at maximum speed. Thus, radiator and bearing issues can happen, particularly when your blades end up flexing too much. The plastic fan may even disintegrate.
3. Loose Fan
Your bad fan clutch will loosen or cause the engine fan to wobble. The wobbling sound can be heard as you drive, particularly at a high speed. A good way to check for this issue is by running your engine while keeping the car in neutral or park. Then, you can open the hood to check if your fan wobbles while spinning. Moreover, you may notice oil flowing out from your hub caused by a loose and wobbly engine fan.
4. Poor Performance
A bad fan clutch will create too much drag on your engine. Hence, fuel efficiency and power are reduced. Over time, the fan may become engaged permanently because of a faulty fan clutch.
5. AC Issues
And lastly, a bad fan clutch will cause damage to the air conditioning system. This also serves as a head exchanger for your AC unit. The fan keeps your condenser cool, and this maintains the AC system’s smooth and efficient operation. But once the fan becomes faulty, certain complications arise in the unit such as a burning smell, lukewarm air, and overheating problems when idle.
Vehicle owners are aware of the fact that the radiator depends on the optimum airflow that disperses the coolant. But when there is insufficient airflow, this causes the air around your radiator to overheat as it becomes stagnant. Thus, the engine fails to cool.
Your cooling system relies on a good-working fan clutch as it also controls your engine fan’s operation as it transfers energy from your fan belt and onto the fan. Hence, this causes turning at an ideal speed that also cools your engine.
There are now electric cooling fans used by newer vehicles in making sure the engine stays cool. However, older vehicles use mechanical fan clutches for controlling the fan. Either way, the fan clutch loosely spins until it is able to achieve the right temperature level. Then, it engages fully to make sure the fan performs at an optimal efficiency rate. Since it is an important part of your cooling system, any problem with it causes overheating, as well as AC concerns.
Inspecting For Fan Clutch Problems
The fan clutch is a key component of your cooling system. This is why it is important to keep it well-maintained to prevent issues.
First, you should check for any issues by spinning the fan, wiggling it and inspecting for leaks. You would not want the heavy oil or silicone fluid to leak out, as this material causes the fan to engage gently and keep the fan clutch in good condition.
Notice the fan speed, which should be at an optimal pace. You want it to engage at a particular temperature (for the thermal fan clutch) or disengage at a specific engine speed (for a torque limiting fan clutch).
And lastly, a can tool can help you to diagnose any issues with the fan clutch, as well as in determining engagement.
The fan clutch affects your AC system, as well as your engine’s overall performance. This is why it is important to keep it well-maintained and to address problems you have observed before things get worse.
Consider checking for issues using the tops we have shared, as well as paying close attention to symptoms that point towards a faulty fan clutch to address these problems before things get worse.