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Radiator Fans - Are They All the Same?

CarPart  ·  May 23, 2023

Radiator Fans - Are They All the Same?

The radiator fan is hard to overlook as it sits right at the front of your engine bay. It works with the radiator and the rest of the cooling system to stop your engine from overheating. 

Given that they’re so straightforward, does that mean all radiator fans are the same?

No, radiator fans aren't all the same. They differ in their power source, number of fans, and manufacturing. 

There are mechanical fans (i.e., belt-powered) and electrically powered radiator fans. They can come from OEM and aftermarket brands, either with single fans that work for most cars or dual fans for more powerful engines.

Radiator fans are important to understand, as they’re part of the crucial engine cooling system. With this guide, you’ll understand their purpose, different types, and why they matter.

What Is the Purpose of a Radiator Fan?

Firstly, let’s quickly recap what car radiator fans are and why their role is so crucial in any motor vehicle.

The radiator fan is a part of your engine’s cooling system. As the name suggests, this fan attaches to the radiator, through which coolant passes to dump heat into the surrounding air.

The radiator fan’s purpose is pretty straightforward: it forces air through the radiator to carry that heat away. As a result, the coolant can return to lower temperatures before recirculating into the engine to remove more heat.

You might think that car radiators have enough air passing through them naturally when the vehicle moves, and you would be right.

However, the radiator fan is still necessary to drive air through the radiator when the car has stopped or is moving too slow. Under those conditions, not enough air will naturally flow through the radiator, preventing the cooling system from doing its job.

Thankfully, the radiator fan is there to compensate and keep air flowing whether the car is moving or not.

What Types of Radiator Fans Are There?

Radiator fans come in a variety of types, differing from each other in how they're powered, the number of fans in one set, and how they're manufactured.

Firstly, let’s talk about their power source. Radiator fans are either mechanically powered or electrically powered, and here’s a bit more about each type:

Besides the power type, radiator fans also differ in the number of fans included in the system. That means they can be either one of the following:

Lastly, radiator fans are also differentiated by who makes them. More specifically, there are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) radiator fans and aftermarket units. Here are their general differences:

How Many Radiator Fans Does a Vehicle Have?

Cars typically only have one radiator fan. That’s more than enough to pull air through the radiator and keep the engine cool, at least in most cases.

However, you’ll find that some cars have dual radiator fans instead. Those are vehicles with engines that run hotter than other models. Having two fans means more air can be forced through the radiator, increasing its effectiveness in removing heat.

Why Are Radiator Fans Important?

Radiator fans, on their own, might not seem very important. However, they're a part of your engine's cooling system, which ensures the engine doesn't overheat and damage itself.

Without a radiator fan, your engine’s cooling system will be helpless. The coolant will absorb heat from the engine but fail to dump that heat into the surrounding air at the radiator.

Aside from an overheating engine, the absent radiator fan will cause coolant to boil and potentially cause leaks in the radiator quickly.

All of that won’t happen if the radiator fan is there and functioning correctly. The fan will force surrounding air through the radiator, allowing the fluid to cool down safely before returning to the engine.

Overall, the fan helps the cooling system do its job of keeping the engine within safe operating temperatures.

Is It Safe to Use a Second-Hand Radiator Fan?

Yes, you can undoubtedly find second-hand radiator fans of all types that are still safe to use. As long as the fan still works correctly, it can serve you well by keeping your radiator and the coolant inside at the correct temperature levels.

If your radiator fan stops working and you prefer a cheap alternative, you can find an excellent second-hand radiator fan by browsing the CarpartAU Marketplace. There, you’ll find excellent deals on used car parts with plenty of value, including radiator fans of all kinds.

Alternatively, you can use the Part Finder to request a brand-new radiator fan for your car. Whatever you need, CarpartAU can help you find it. Try it now!


By Ray Hasbollah

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