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Signs of a Damaged Intercooler

Wondering if your intercooler is going bad? It’s an important question since an intercooler plays an integral role in the performance of your vehicle’s engine.

The function of the intercooler is to lower the temperature of compressed air generated by an engine’s turbocharger or supercharger. The compressed air carries a great deal of heat. This heat impacts engine parts by causing the cylinders to detonate and lower boost. By reducing the temperature of the air, engine parts are protected. Further, when cooled, compressed air becomes denser, causing it to burn more fuel and increase the engine’s power output.

Your vehicle’s intercooler may fail when the lines or hoses that connect the intercooler to the engine leak, causing a drop in the pressure of the compressed air. Damage to intercooler parts also are caused when air from the turbo contains foreign substances.

When there is a leak in the intercooler’s lines, those lines will be unable to supply enough air under the right amount of pressure, resulting in the engine having a skewed air-to-fuel ratio. The result is an engine that runs too rich or too lean. An engine that runs too rich results in excess fuel being expelled with exhaust gases. When this happens, left-over fuel in the exhaust system combusts leading to lower fuel economy and sub-par vehicle performance. A tell-tale sign is black smoke coming out of the exhaust system.

A turbo will try to compensate for leaks in a few different ways. If the leak is minor, acceleration will lag and there will be an extra turbo whine. Major leaks will cause the computer to default to home mode, resulting in a drop in the power and restricted RPM. In such cases, it will difficult if not impossible to drive the vehicle.

It is important to note that air-to-water intercoolers require engine coolant and can develop clogs stemming from mineral deposits. When an intercooler becomes clogged the result is hotter air flowing into the engine, reducing engine efficiency and causing the engine to knock. When an intercooler is damaged, the turbocharger spins faster to compensate for a loss in pressure. The level of boost will be less than optimal, however.

If you suspect an issue with your intercooler it needs to be checked as soon as possible. After all, changing hoses is much easier and less expensive than having to replace the entire intercooler.

 

Posted By: ACE RADIATORS

Posted on: 06/12/2018
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