If your engine overheats or is in the red area on the temperature gauge, your cooling fan may not be working properly. Cooling fans are fairly easy to test as all you have to do is start your engine and turn the AC on.
With the AC on both cooling fans, if your vehicle has two fans, they should be running at high speed. If only one fan is running, it’s very possible that your cooling fan for the radiator has failed.
Although proper troubleshooting would be required to ensure that the fans have power supplied to them, this can be verified with a voltmeter or test light.
Cost of Radiator Fan Replacement
Labor costs can vary widely depending on the number of components required to be pulled out to be able to remove the cooling fan from a vehicle. As always, the labor rate is also dependent on the location.
As for the cost of the parts, it is dependent on the type of vehicle being serviced and the type and quality of the replacement parts to be used.
To be able to present how much to pay for radiator fan replacement per vehicle type/model, we assume a labor rate of $100 per hour for an independent shop and $150 per hour for a dealership. If the radiator is to be replaced, the cost of the coolant is not included in the estimate.
- 2009 Volkswagen GTI – 2.3 hours worth of service
At an independent shop, the labor would cost $230 and the cooling fan assembly (radiator fan, condenser fan, and shroud) can range between $120 and $200 depending on the brand and markup.
At the dealership, the labor would cost $345 and the radiator fan replacement cost would be between $275 and $330. To replace the condenser fan motor at the same time, it would cost an additional of $175 and $200 for the motor, respectively, but there would be no additional labor.
- 2011 Dodge Charger 3.6L – 1.6 hours worth of service
At an independent shop, the labor would cost $160 and the cooling fan assembly (radiator fan, condenser fan, and shroud) can range between $125 and $175 depending on the brand and markup.
At the dealership, the labor would cost $240 and the cooling fan assembly (radiator fan, condenser fan, and shroud) would cost between $275 and $325. For this vehicle, the cooling fan comes as the entire assembly.
- 2016 Honda Pilot – 2.2 hours worth of service
At an independent shop, the labor would cost $220 and the cooling fan assembly (radiator fan and shroud) can range between $100 and $150 depending on the brand and markup. To replace the Condenser fan assembly (condenser fan and shroud), the cost for the part would be an additional of $100 to $150 with no or very little additional labor.
- 2017 Honda Civic 1.5L – 1.8 hours worth of service
This vehicle has a variable speed cooling fan with no condenser fan. At an independent shop, the labor would cost $180. The cooling fan does not appear to be available as an aftermarket part at this time.
The cost for a Honda cooling fan motor would cost between $400 and $475 depending on location and markup. At the dealership, the labor would cost $270 and the fan motor would be $400 to $475 depending on location and markup.
At the dealership, the labor would cost $330 and the radiator fan price would be between $145 and $175. To replace the condenser fan motor at the same time, it would cost an additional of $100 to $125 for the motor, but there would be no or very little additional labor.
What Is a Cooling Fan?
There are two main types of cooling fans used in the automotive industry. The less common type is the hydraulic driven cooling fan. This fan is attached to the engine with a pulley that is driven by the drive belt.
Inside the pulley is a hydraulic pump mechanism. Depending on the amount of hydraulic pressure applied, the fan blade becomes locked to the pulley and begins spinning.
This style of system is more common in older trucks. It is most common on heavy-duty trucks but many older light-duty trucks (Dodge Ram, Ford F250, and Chevrolet 1500) have used them in the past. The failure rate is much lower on this type of system as it is mechanical, not electrical.
The second type of cooling fan is the electric cooling fan. This is the most commonly used cooling fan. This type is mounted to the radiator and is controlled electronically by the onboard computer.
Many vehicles will have two fans mounted on the radiator side by side. One is for the radiator and the other is for the condenser. When the AC is turned on, both fans should run.
Many manufacturers use a high and low-speed system for the cooling fan. The different speeds are typically controlled by relays, but some vehicles use control modules to control the speed of the fan.
Many modern vehicles are switching to brushless variable speed fans that can run at any speed between off and maximum speed, as opposed to only off, low, and high speed (two speeds only).
The cooling fan is very important as it’s needed to keep the coolant in the engine cool while running. Without the cooling fan, the radiator would not be able to cool down the coolant enough to prevent the engine from overheating.
When a radiator fan fails, an increase in engine temperature may be noticed especially during the summertime when the ambient temperature is much warmer. If the radiator fan has failed, you would also notice a decrease in cooling efficiency. With the AC on, the air condition would not be as cold as usual.
Most independent shops will replace both the radiator cooling fan and the fan shroud as one assembly as most aftermarket cooling fans are made as a complete assembly. Most dealerships will replace just the electrical cooling fan motor.
If you have had the radiator fan replaced by an independent shop as a whole assembly (aftermarket) and then, go to a dealership later on, you may not be able to have just the motor replaced. This is because the new fan shroud might not match up to the original fan motor provided by the dealer. In this case, you would need to buy an OEM fan shroud and fan motor that will cost much more.
On newer vehicles that use a variable speed brushless radiator fan motor, you may not have a secondary fan. These vehicles usually use only one fan for both the condenser and the radiator.
If this fan fails, you will notice extremely quick and rapid temperature increase, as well as very little air conditioning cooling if you’re currently using the air conditioner at the time.
The cooling fan and cooling fan shroud are located on the radiator. This means that in order to remove the fans, sometimes, the radiator must be removed, the front bumper may have to be removed or the front core support may have to be removed.
When Does a Cooling Fan Need To Be Replaced?
There are several different components that all work together in the cooling fan system. The control module usually monitors the coolant via two temperature sensors; one located in the radiator and the other, somewhere on the engine.
When the engine control module determines that the coolant is at the specific temperature, the control module then commands the fans on usually low-speed first if this is a fan with two speeds, or low if it’s a variable speed fan.
If one of the coolant sensors is not functioning properly and reading a much lower temperature than what the actual temperature is, the control module may not turn the fans on and your engine may overheat.
Technicians can usually diagnose this problem by checking to see what the coolant temperature sensors read and whether or not the control module is commanding the fan on. If these things are working properly, they will then check to make sure that the cooling fan has proper power and ground and also check for any possible failed relays.
In some cases, the cooling fan motor itself might not be an issue if you have a cracked or broken fan shroud that can decrease the cooling efficiency. This would be so as the air would be escaping through those cracks instead of traveling through the radiator fins.
A broken fan blade can also cause a decrease in cooling efficiency as it would not be drawing the proper amount of air across the radiator fins. If the fan has stopped working altogether due to electric motor failure, the motor would need to be replaced.