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How To Tell If Your Radiator Fan Is Failing

The radiator fan in your VW circulates air through your radiator to cool the engine. It's critical that it works properly, especially when your vehicle is idling or stopped. Without air circulating there's no way to prevent the engine temperature from rising. Let the engine get too hot, or run hot for too long and you risk damage to your engine, which can be very expensive to fix. Check out this post to learn why it's important to periodically check to be sure that your radiator fan is operating correctly.

NOTE: If your car is overheating, it's a good idea to first check your coolant. A vehicle that is low on coolant will also run hot or overheat, especially when stopped or at low speeds.

Common Radiator Fan Issues

Like any part, a radiator fan can occasionally fail. When it does, it's usually because of one or more of the following issues:

  • A broken temperature sensor for the radiator fan
  • A blown fuse for the radiator fan circuit
  • Faulty wiring
  • Fan clutch or fan motor failure

If you suspect your radiator fan is bad or might be failing, it's worth spending some time investigating the issue before you replace it. This effort could save you time and money as well as provide assurance that you found the cause of the issue.

Symptoms Of A Failing Radiator Fan

If you notice your radiator fan turning on and off, it is probably operating normally. Most radiator fans have an electric motor and a temperature sensor that sends a signal to turn the fan on or off. That's why it's important to look for one or more of these symptoms:

  • The radiator fan does not turn on at all once the engine reaches operating temperature
  • The engine starts running hotter than normal or overheating when you're stopped or driving slowly
  • The fan makes loud noises
  • The fan's electrical circuit regularly blows fuses
  • Poor A/C performance

How To Test Your Radiator Fan

Image Credit: ScrewsNutsAndBolts

If you suspect your radiator fan isn't working properly, you can check it yourself using the following steps:

  1. Start the car and let the engine warm up to operating temperature. Then see if the radiator fan kicks on.
  2. Use a volt meter to test the electrical connections. Connect one end of the volt meter to a ground and the other end to a positive connection on the fan. You should get a reading of around 12 volts.
    • If the volt meter indicates there's no electric current, the problem may be a blown fuse. 
    • If the volt meter reads 12 volts and the fan won't come on, the problem is with the fan motor or electric relay and the fan will need to be replaced.
  3. Some fans are powered by a fan belt or are connected to the water pump. If you have this type of fan, it could be one of the following issues:
    • The fan belt could be broken or loose
    • The water pump could be bad
    • You could have a fan clutch that has failed

After checking your radiator fan, if you determine it is the issue, you should replace it as soon as possible.

Where To Find Parts To Replace Your Radiator Fan

At VW Parts Vortex we only supply OEM parts with Volkswagen's manufacturer warranty. We also offer a price match guarantee so you can be sure you're getting the best parts at the best price. If you need a radiator fan for your VW or any other part, contact us online, or give us a call at 888-667-8938.