Car Radiator Fan Noise. How To Fix? - Ask Car Mechanic (2023)

Radiator fans come in many shapes and sizes and are used in different applications. However, radiator fans can break which will cause different kinds of noises depending on the type of radiator and the problem.

Radiator fans can cause noise when they are not working correctly. This can occur for several reasons, including a broken or loose fan blade or a motor that needs to be replaced or repaired. It is necessary to determine why the radiator fan is making noise to fix the problem.

In this article, I will explain some common causes of radiator fan noises and some noises to watch out for. I will also give you tips on how to fix the issues and when to take the car to a mechanic.

6 Causes of Radiator Fan Noise

Car Radiator Fan Noise. How To Fix? - Ask Car Mechanic (1)

A few different things can cause noise from a radiator fan. However, the most common problem is the fan wearing out.

If the fan has any problems, it may cause it to run louder than usual or make other strange noises. Another possible cause of the noise is something wrong with the wiring of your car’s electrical system.

For example, if the fan is damaged or worn, it may scrape against the radiator shroud or housing. This can result from wear and tear or damage caused by an object such as a rock striking a fan blade. Sometimes, loosened bolts can cause a fan to vibrate in its mounting system and create noise.

Here are the common causes of radiator fan noise:

(Video) Clacking Noise In Front Of My Car Engine. Damaged Cooling Radiator Fan. Nissan Pathfinder 2014.

1. Loose Fan Clutch

The fan clutch controls the speed of the radiator fan by turning it on and off as needed so that it is not running all of the time. The fan clutch can wear out over time and begin to make a rattling noise when it fails. It is recommended to replace your radiator fan clutch every 80,000 kilometers (49,710 miles).

Read: Radiator Fan Replacement Cost

2. Broken or Damaged Radiator Fan Shroud

The radiator fan shroud is designed to keep the air flowing through your radiator fins. When the fan shroud or any part of it becomes broken or damaged, it can cause your radiator fan to become unbalanced and make a rattling sound. It is recommended to replace your radiator fan shroud if there is any damage or missing parts.

3. Worn Bearings

Radiator fans are mounted on bearings or bushings, allowing the fan to spin freely without making much noise. Over time these bearings can become worn out, causing them to chatter and become noisy and should be replaced as needed. When the fan bearing is worn out, it causes metal to metal contact. This will make the fan very noisy.

4. Broken Fan Blades

A clunking noise usually means one of the fan blades is broken. This is probably because the fan blade is made of plastic and has snapped off through fatigue. Driving with a broken fan blade can be dangerous, so you should replace the blade right away.

5. Loose Fan Motor Mounting Bolts

If the fan is loose on the mounting, it can vibrate against the radiator and possibly rub on other components such as the fan shroud or hose. If your fan is vibrating or shaking violently, you should tighten the mounting bolts holding the fan motor in place.

Car Radiator Fan Noise. How To Fix? - Ask Car Mechanic (2)

6. Bad Fan Motor Brush Assembly

If your fan makes a low hum and does not spin at all, it is probably due to a broken motor brush assembly. The motor brush assembly is the component that conducts current between the wires and the moving parts of the fan. The only solution to this issue is to order a replacement assembly.

(Video) Chevrolet Cruze: Cooling Fan Is REALLY LOUD!

Read: Why Radiator Fan Is Not Working?

Two Types of Radiator Fans

There are two types of fans:

  • Mechanical. Mechanical fans have belts that run off the engine’s crankshaft and cause the fan to turn. They have been used for decades but have been phased out, favoring electric fans, which are quieter, more reliable, and more efficient.
  • Electric-driven. Electric fans use an electric motor to turn on and off, and are most common in modern cars and SUVs because they save fuel. However, electric fans can cause noise when they are not working correctly.

Read: Why Radiator Fan Always On?

Identifying Noises From an Electric Radiator Fan

The noises from an electric radiator fan vary from mechanical fans. However, the difference is dependent on the problem with the fan.

It is essential to know what kind of noise is coming from your car. Here are some common problems and their noises:

Rattling or Clicking Noise

A rattling or clicking noise signifies that the bearings are worn out in your electric radiator fan motor. It may also mean there is debris between the blades on your electric radiator fan blade, which is a common issue in any fan.

Squealing Noise

Squealing noises are unique to electric fans and sound similar to a failing tensioner pulley system. This means that the pulley or belt on your electric radiator fan motor needs to be replaced or re-adjusted.

This can also mean that you need a new engine cooling system because there is no refrigerant left in it, which causes friction between metal parts. The metal parts can wear out fast because they rub against each other when running an engine through cold weather conditions like snow blizzards.


Radiator Fan Noise Repair

To repair the radiator fan, you will need to remove the fan and fit a different one. If you’re removing a viscous-coupled fan, you will also need to replace the viscous coupling.

Noise from a radiator fan can also be resolved by repairing or replacing the engine cooling system components. A certified mechanic should repair or replace these parts for you.

However, if your cooling system has failed along with the fan, simply replacing it is not enough to keep the car’s engine running normally again. For this, it’s highly recommended to take your vehicle to a professional who can safely replace your car’s cooling system.

The Job of the Radiator Fan

Car Radiator Fan Noise. How To Fix? - Ask Car Mechanic (3)

The radiator fan is located in front of the radiator and blows hot air out of the engine compartment. The job of the radiator fan is to circulate air over the radiator to help cool the engine.

While your engine is running, the coolant circulates from your engine through the radiator at the front of your car where it is cooled off by air flowing through the fins on top of and beneath the radiator. The temperature of this coolant can determine whether or not your car overheats. If the coolant gets too hot, you run the risk of damaging internal engine parts, such as your pistons.

When airflow through the radiator is not enough to keep it cool at idle or low speeds, the fan comes on to help cool down the system.

The radiator fan has two main functions:

(Video) 2015 Ford F150 Very Noisy Fan Cause & Fix

  • To assist in cooling off the radiator when the car is moving slowly or stopped.
  • To draw in the fresh air that carries away heat from the condenser when the air conditioning is on.

Read: Why Radiator Fan Goes ON and OFF?

Fan Has Stopped Working

If your car is overheating and the radiator fan has stopped working, there is a good chance that your problem is electrical. Radiator fans turn on when they get a signal from their respective temperature sensors, either coolant or air temperature.

If the fan isn’t working, it could be a blown fuse, bad relay, or a broken fan motor.

Read: Why Car Overheats?


Radiator fans can fail without appearing to be damaged. Electric and magnetic forces can cause the fan to move or vibrate, which can make a noise.

Loose screws and bolts may cause the radiator to make a rattling noise. The noise may simply stop once the fan is no longer in contact with any wires or other parts.

Additionally, your fan may have a broken blade or a worn bearing causing it to make noise.

(Video) 2015 Pathfinder CLACKING NOISE - cooling fan replacement - DETAILED Version, Vlog 2019 (PART 1)

However, if the issues are more severe, a full replacement will be needed.


How do I stop my radiator fan from making noise? ›

Here are three ways to make it happen:
  1. Spec a larger fan and run it a lower speed. It's no secret the fan can be the largest source of engine noise in an application. ...
  2. Pair the fan with a variable-speed drive. ...
  3. Choose a fan designed to emit less noise.
1 May 2020

Can a car radiator fan be repaired? ›

If you're a DIY person, learning how to fix a radiator fan can help you save your car engine from damage. Overheating issues often result from bad cooling fans. If you know how to, you can easily correct them. This chapter will show you how to repair a radiator fan using only a few tools.

How much does it cost to fix a radiator fan? ›

As one of the more expensive car repairs needed (not including the replacement of a seized car engine, obviously), the replacement of the radiator coolant fan could incur about $128 to $162 in labor costs and around $465 in parts. So, total radiator fan replacement cost could be anywhere from $592 to $627.

Why is my radiator fan making a loud noise? ›

Worn bearings, bent or broken blades, and unbalanced rotating assemblies can cause a fan to screech, howl, or otherwise make noises it shouldn't. Fortunately, switching out a worn fan for a new one isn't a huge ordeal.

How do you remove noise from a radiator? ›

Try turning the radiator valve fully on. This should stop the whistle. Banging, clanking and gurgling sounds can be caused by air in the radiator. Bleeding your radiators could fix the problem.

How much does it cost to fix car fans? ›

You can usually get a radiator fan or cooling fan assembly for around $50 to $500. Labor costs for this type of replacement will usually range anywhere between $100 and $400. The exact cost will depend on factors, such as the type of vehicle you have and the rates applied in your area.

What is the lifespan of radiator fan? ›

In most cases, a properly maintained radiator fan will last between eight and ten years. When the radiator fan fails, it should be replaced as soon as possible. This is because without a cooling fan to help remove heat from the engine, your car is more likely to overheat and cause damage to important engine components.

How long does it take to fix a radiator fan? ›

It can take an experienced mechanic about two to three hours to replace it, depending on the type of vehicle and assembly. In most cases, the radiator fan only needs to be replaced if it starts failing, but if it does start to fail, it is an essential repair.

Can I drive with a broken radiator fan? ›

Yes, you can drive your car without a radiator fan, but you never should. Your vehicle's cooling system is crucial to its performance, and every time your engine overheats, you cause damage.

Can I drive with faulty radiator fan? ›

Yes, if your radiator cooling fan fails, you can drive with it. Technically, your vehicle engine does not need a radiator fan to operate. However, if your vehicle engine does not receive enough air blowing it constantly, it will eventually lead to overheating.

Why is my radiator fan so loud when I accelerate? ›

It is possible that your engine is getting hotter than normal and is kicking the fan on harder to assist with cooling. It is likely that if the issue got any worse that a warning light may come on. I would recommend checking your coolant level to ensure it is full.

Why is my radiator fan running so fast? ›

The most common faults are the coolant temperature sensor, fan relay, failing fans, or a wiring harness fault.

Does cooling fan affect AC? ›

If either system is not operating at its full efficiency, the other could be affected. An example of this is the cooling fans–both the engine cooling fan and the air conditioning auxiliary fan. These fans are necessary to move a sufficient amount of air through both the radiator and the air conditioning condenser.

Why is my car radiator making noise? ›

Hose Noises (Boiling and Bubbling)

However, you might notice a sound exactly like boiling water on the stove. This is the coolant in your radiator boiling. This mean there is a hose failure, or that a bad gasket has compromised the cooling system.

What does a loud radiator sound like? ›

If you've ever had an apartment with radiator heat, you know it can be noisy. There's the standard hissing noise when it's getting going, and the yelps of pain when you lean on it while it's on. But there's also that strange banging noise, as though someone is pounding the pipes with a hammer.

Is it normal for a radiator to make noise? ›

Clicking and creaking noises are the most common noise a radiator or heated towel rail will make and this is actually pretty normal. It's most likely that this is caused by expansion of the metal after a rush of hot water flows into it.

How long does it take to replace a car fan? ›

It varies from person to person. A mechanic can do it in 2 to 3 hours. A person doing it for the first time may have trouble locating the bolts and other parts and could take up to 8 hours to locate.

How do I know if my car fan is bad? ›

These are the most common signs of a faulty radiator fan assembly in need of replacement:
  1. Engine Overheating. When the radiator fan isn't functioning properly, it is not able to adequately cool down the car's engine. ...
  2. Air Conditioner Function Diminished. ...
  3. Loud Noise Coming From Radiator Fan.

Does fan fix cost money? ›

It costs an average of about $150 to repair a ceiling fan, with a typical range of between $90 and $200. If it's a simple repair, it may only cost you $50, while expensive repairs to higher-end models may run you $350 or more.

Is cooling fan Same as radiator fan? ›

The cooling fan is also known as a radiator fan because it's mounted directly to the radiator in some engine layout. Typically, the fan is positioned between the radiator and engine as it draws heat to the atmosphere. In front-wheel cars, the cooling fan used is an electrical component powered by the battery.

Can a broken radiator fan cause overheating? ›

A faulty radiator fan can cause many problems. These are some of the most common: Engine overheating: A bad radiator fan can cause the engine to overheat, especially at low speeds. If your car starts overheating, pull off the road as quickly as you safely can and turn off the engine.

What causes car fan to stop working? ›

Check the engine coolant level. If your engine coolant's too low, it means that the cooling fan will have to work harder to keep the engine at a normal temperature. To check the level, look for the coolant expansion tank in the engine bay.

How long does it take a mechanic to fix a radiator? ›

That means that you should plan on 4-6 hours for a radiator repair. Your mechanic may need longer, depending on what level of damage exists and part availability. It's also possible that your mechanic may discover additional problems part way through the repair, which can impact how long it takes to fix your radiator.

How do I know if my radiator fan motor is bad? ›

The first symptom or sign that something has gone wrong is that your cooling fan doesn't come on at all. This is the most common symptom of a faulty cooling fan motor, but it may not be one you notice while driving your vehicle. If the motor burned out or starts to fail in any way, the cooling fans are disabled.

How much does it cost to replace a radiator in a car? ›

If you go to a mechanic, the cost will be around $90 depending on your car make and model. Replacing a car radiator, however, can set you back over $300-$900.

What controls radiator fan speed? ›

The radiator fan is designed not to run at a constant speed. The speed is varied by the ECU or fan control module, depending on the coolant temperature. The temperature of a car's engine is controlled to make the engine run within specified operating temperature range.

Why won't my cooling fan shut off? ›

The most common reason that your Air Conditioner fan won't turn off is because a stuck relay keeping the circuit closed. If it's not the relay, your thermostat likely has a shorted cable or needs to be replaced.

Does AC and radiator work together? ›

While the air conditioner is not part of the same cooling system, it works in conjunction with the heater, especially when there is a need to dehumidify the air in the cabin. Mounted in front of the radiator, it has an evaporator filled with refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air that enters the vehicle.

Does the radiator affect the heater? ›

If your car's cabin doesn't warm up when it's cold outside, then check your car's radiator and associated cooling system. The heating system uses the same coolant that courses through the radiator and cools your engine. If a hose is leaking coolant or if your radiator is distressed, your car's heater will be affected.

Is car AC connected to radiator? ›

An air conditioner in a vehicle uses the same air to evaporate liquid refrigerant (wasting heat collected in the vehicle cabin), as is used to cool the engine. This is usually another radiator-looking-structure “in front of” the radiator used to cool the engine. Uses the same fan as the radiator does.

What causes a radiator fan to fail? ›

Radiator fan assembly failure can occur for a number of reasons, but usually the main contributing factor is vehicle age and mileage. Furthermore, cars that experience high levels of traffic each day or are frequently in stop-and-go conditions are more susceptible to radiator fan assembly failure.

What happens if my radiator fan is broken? ›

If your cooling fan stops working, your engine could overheat. This could cause damage to your engine parts. It's a serious issue and needs to be looked at by a garage.

What happens if you drive with a broken radiator fan? ›

A damaged car radiator fan will damage your engine once left unaddressed. This will happen most often when the car is running at a slower speed or is idling. An overheated engine can be easily damaged and will lead to expensive repair services.

How do I test my radiator fan? ›

How to check your radiator fan
  1. Firstly, you'll need to locate the fuse boxes on your vehicle. ...
  2. Once they are located, you will need to set your multimeter to the correct setting. ...
  3. From here, make sure the engine is off and place the black lead (negative) to the negative battery terminal. ...
  4. Evaluate the reading.
15 Dec 2021

Does the radiator fan affect the AC? ›

These fans are necessary to move a sufficient amount of air through both the radiator and the air conditioning condenser. If one or both fans are not operating correctly, sufficient air flow is not achieved. This is not to be confused with the air flow from your dash vents.

How do I know if my fan is damaged? ›

The fastest way to tell if your computer's fan has stopped working is to visually inspect it. If it's a desktop computer, you can usually see the fan rotating on the back of the case. If the fan is not moving, you must replace it immediately, before using your computer further.

How long can you drive a car without a radiator fan? ›

Engine will not run at all !! In short it is dangerous for engine-time depends on thermostate heater,,in hot weather it take 2-3 minutes but in cold weather it take 10-15 mints for upshoot engine heat… better to switch off the car.

Is a cooling fan the same as a radiator fan? ›

The cooling fan is also known as a radiator fan because it's mounted directly to the radiator in some engine layout. Typically, the fan is positioned between the radiator and engine as it draws heat to the atmosphere. In front-wheel cars, the cooling fan used is an electrical component powered by the battery.


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