Controlling engine temperature is vital. If the engine overheats, serious damage could result, including cracking the block in the most severe cases. In order to maintain control over the engine’s operating temperature, coolant flows throughout the engine. However, that coolant absorbs heat, and sometimes the radiator isn’t enough to cool it down before it’s sent back through the engine. Cooling fans are used to blow air over the radiator’s fins and further reduce the temperature of the coolant. In order to operate on an as-needed basis, the cooling fans in your vehicle rely on a temperature control relay (more commonly referred to as a cooling fan relay).
When should I replace my Temperature Control Relay?
If your cooling fans won’t cycle, there are a couple of things to check. It might be the fan motor that’s gone out (this generally causes one fan to work and one not to work). If both fans are inoperable, chances are good that you need a temperature control relay replacement. There’s one relay/switch per fan in most setups, so you’ll usually need to purchase two replacements (replace them both even if only one has failed).
What happens if I don’t?
If you decide not to purchase a temperature control relay replacement, you’re opening yourself up to serious problems. Obviously, without functional cooling fans, your engine will run hotter than it should. In warm weather, this can lead to disastrous overheating (even in cooler weather this can be a problem).
How to do it: Replacing your Temperature Control Relay
- Determine where your temperature control relay is located. Some are located beside the fan they control and are inserted in the radiator itself. Some models have the relay located in the under hood fuse box. Others have the relay mounted elsewhere in the engine. Consult a full vehicle manual.
- Purchase the right temperature control relay replacement for your vehicle (they vary based on make and model).
- Wait until the engine has cooled (if your relay is located on the radiator – if its in the fuse box, you can replace it immediately).
- Disconnect the battery.
- Disconnect the wiring harness from the relay (for radiator-mounted relays). If your relay is in the fuse box, remove the relay.
- Install the temperature control relay replacement.
- Reconnect the wiring harness (if applicable).
- Reconnect the battery.
- Start the car and see if the cooling fans cycle when the engine heats up.
Anything else I need to know?
For some vehicles, you may need to remove some ancillary parts to get to the Temperature Control Relay Replacement, so be prepared for that. If you run into problems with that process, you may need to do some research to get instructions that are specific to your vehicle.
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