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How to Replace Your Car’s Cooling Fan

Almost every time when replacing a car’s cooling fan is needed, it is an electric fan. Sometimes due to damage, the fans attached to the front of the water pump need to be replaced. Some larger vehicles have a fan clutch mounted directly behind the fan blade that can create issues when it fails. Although the fan blades themselves do not need replacing, they will have to be removed to access the fan clutch.

Replacing an electric cooling fan.

Begin by locating the fan.

The cooling fan for all newer front-wheel drive cars is located in the same general area. With the engine off, raise the hood. Right against the front of the car behind the grille is the radiator. The electric cooling fans are mounted in a frame that attaches at the rear of the radiator. When you look down between the radiator and the engine, you will see a small casing that is a cylinder sticking out. This is the fan motor. This is the part you will need to replace more than likely. It is uncommon for the fan blades to have issues.

Disconnect the power from the fan.

Somewhere on the fan motor you will see an electric cable run back toward the engine. This cable will either plug into the motor or there will be a lead that comes from the motor to a connector. Find the connection and unplug the fan. If the cable is difficult to access, you may want to use some tape and attach it someplace convenient. This will help you find and identify the correct connector when attaching it back to the fan motor at the end of the job.

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Remove the screws or bolts that hold the fan housing in place.

There should be one bolt or screw at each of the four corners. This will be two at the top and two at the bottom. On some cars, there may be an extra fastener or two on the sides, top, or bottom of the housing. These fasteners may be screws or bolts, or they may be some type of clip. Take your time and find and remove all of them. Take note of their locations to help you replace them.

Remove anything that is in the way of removing the fan and housing from the car.

Because of the size of the housing, any parts that are located directly above the fan will have to be removed. This will usually just be some wiring or a hose. Pay attention to each part removed and its location.

Lift the fan and housing from the car.

Grip the housing firmly and raise it upward from the car. You may have to wiggle it a little to get it loose before it can be lifted up. Take your time with this. You do not want to force it. You risk breaking the housing or something else as you remove the housing if you force it. Once the housing is out, you will need to find a nice flat surface to complete the work.

Take the fan blade off and remove the motor from the housing.

Most of the time the fan blade will be attached to a shaft with a set screw or pin. Loosen the fan and slide it off of the shaft. On some cars, there may be a keeper at the end of the shaft that locks the blade to prevent movement up and down the shaft. If this is present, it will need to be released and removed. Once the blade is loose, slide it off of the shaft. Remove the screws that hold the motor to the housing. This is usually about 4 screws that are easy to see and remove.

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Attach the new motor to the housing and reverse the removal process.

Once the old motor is out of the way, install the new motor into its mounts. Slide the blade into position on the shaft of the motor and secure it into place. Carefully ease the fan housing back into position in your car and replace the fasteners. Plug the motor into the cars electrical system. It should be ready for service. Start your car and turn on the air conditioner to maximum. This should cause your fan to engage. If it comes on, you are finished.

Replacing a fan on a rear-wheel drive vehicle or older car.

Remove the bolts that hold the fan in place.

These fans are turned by a belt around the water pump pulley. The fan blades attach to the pulley. The blades are attached to the pulley with four bolts. If you can, leave the belt in place while loosening these bolts. It will hold the fan from turning while you break the bolts loose. If you do not have to remove the belt to access the water pump, you can probably leave it on throughout the entire job. If the fan has a clutch behind it, it will attach to the clutch instead of the pulley. You may have to wedge the fan with something to keep it from turning while you remove it.

Once the bolts are out, remove the fan blades.

This is easy. You may have to work to keep it from falling off before you finish with the bolts. If you are just changing the fan blades for some reason, bolt the new fan into place and you are finished. If you are changing out the fan clutch, set the fan aside with out damaging it. Find the bolts that attach the clutch to the pulley. Remove them and replace the pulley. Replace the fan. The job is complete.

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