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The short answer is ‘Yes’, a faulty fan clutch can create an AC problem.
The thermostatic fan clutch ensures that the fan uses the engine's power to rotate when the temperature inside the engine compartment increases.
A Fan clutch involves when the engine turns warmer than the optimal temperature range. The involvement of the fan clutch ensures that the temperature inside the engine compartment remains in check.
This process includes the reduction of the coolant temperature as well.
A faulty fan clutch means coolant will take a long time to return to the optimal temperature range if the engine turns warmer. As a result, AC performance can drop more than usual.
Does the fan clutch have anything to do with the AC?
Yes, the fan clutch is an important component in the engine cooling system that keeps the temperature at an optimum level. It can affect the overall cooling system as it transfers airflow to reduce the heat in the system.
- The fan clutch is a heat exchanger.
- It provides continuous airflow to the condenser.
- The condenser cools down the refrigerant.
- It transforms the gas into liquid particles.
- The engine stays at an optimum temperature.
- There is no overheating in the engine.
When this clutch is faulty, there's a deduction of the airflow through the condenser. As a result, the entire engine cooling system is affected and overheating can reduce the engine's performance significantly.
Will a bad fan clutch affect an AC?
As a fan clutch is an integral part of an AC, there remains no more confusion that a bad fan clutch can affect the cooling system.
If the fan clutch isn't working correctly or malfunctioning –
- The condenser won't get good airflow.
- The reduction of airflow means less refrigerant cooling.
- Transforming the gas particles to liquid is affected.
- Improper cooling on the air conditioning.
The ultimate result of these malfunctions is the overheating of the engine and a huge reduction in the vehicle’s performance.
How to tell if the fan clutch is bad?
As the sole function of the fan clutch is to keep the engine's temperature at an optimum level when the engine is overheating, you can tell the clutch is bad. However, what else can tell you whether it's a bad fan clutch or not?
- The overheating engine even after turning it off.
- An unusual number of spins of the cooling fan.
- A noisy cooling fan even when you are driving slowly.
- Reduction of the fuel efficiency.
- Unstable and wobbling cooling fan.
The bad fan clutch is no more capable of transferring optimum airflow to the engine. Consequently, the user can feel the excessive heat in the engine regardless of the speed of the vehicle.
It’s the primary symptom to identify a bad fan clutch and affects the cooling system performance.
The number of spins
After turning off the engine, you may notice several unusual spins of the cooling fan. The optimal number for spins isn't more than 3 times.
However, if it’s less than three times or up to five times, you can tell the fan clutch is bad already.
A malfunctioned fan can cause unnecessary loud noises when the vehicle is on the go. The AC of the engine will try to cool down the heat and keep up the performance at an optimum level.
But as the clutch is bad already, it won't supply that amount of air to cool down the refrigerant and make an unusual noise.
Less fuel efficiency
A significant reduction in the fuel efficiency is noticeable due to a bad clutch fan in the engine’s cooling system.
The result of the overheating may require more fuel in the engine, which will reduce the fuel efficiency and performance at the same time.
Instability of the cooling fan
Engagement of the fan clutch with the cooling system is mandatory for better engine performance. But when the fan clutch turns bad, you are supposed to have an unstable, wobbling, loosely cooling fan.
What are the types of fan clutch?
Which type of engine you have on the vehicle defines which type of fan clutch will uphold the engine's performance. The engagement through the engine lets the clutch get air through the engine to cool it down.
However, you will find three types of fan clutches available depending on the engine type.
- Thermal fan clutch
- Electric fan clutch
- Torque limiting fan clutch.
Thermal fan clutch
It has a bi-metallic thermal spring in the face of the fan clutch. The thermal spring gets heated up when the air radiator heats up, and air passes through.
A thermal fan clutch is a long-lasting option compared to any non-thermal one.
Electric fan clutch
It's pretty similar to thermal ones but doesn't depend on either temperature or speed. Instead of temperature or speed, it runs on the ECM through several sensors.
Torque limiting fan clutch
This type of fan clutch provides a freewheel from 2,500 to 3,000 RPM. After reacting to the engine speed the flow of heavy silicone fluid attaches to the fan blades and fan pulley.
How to test a fan clutch?
If you are not sure whether the fan clutch is working correctly or not, go and test it for any faults. There're a few things you can do to test the clutch and find out the answer.
- Move the fan forward and backward to hear the sound.
- The engagement and disengagement of the clutch at optimum temperature.
- Spin the fan and count the spinning numbers.
- Check if there is any leakage.
- Use a scan tool for accurate results.
If there’s any sound while moving the fan forward or backward, the clutch is bad. If it doesn’t engage or disengage at the optimum temperature, the clutch is bad as well.
If the spin number is more or less than three times, the clutch requires changing. Leakage anywhere is proof of a faulty fan clutch.
How to fix a bad fan clutch?
Fixing a bad fan clutch means replacing it with a new one. To get back the fuel efficiency and engine performance, it's necessary to change the clutch without any delay.
It’s better to do this with the help of an expert. However, the basics steps for replacement are –
- First, drain the air cooling system.
- Remove the top radiator hose.
- Remove the fan shroud by removing the bolts on it.
- Take the fan off the water pump shaft.
- Detach the clutch from the fan.
- Install the new fan clutch.
- Tighten it by putting on the bolts.
- Put on the fan again.
Whenever there is any sign of having a faulty fan clutch like not increasing fan speed with the rising temperature, you must fix it or replace it.
Is it okay to drive with a bad fan clutch?
Yes, it’s okay to drive with a bad fan clutch as long as the temperature doesn’t go to its peak. There are basically two situations you can get as the consequence of this malfunction.
- The cooling system or fan will become slower.
- The fan is locked.
The first situation means the speed of the cooling fan is no more proportional to the speed of the engine. It means the engine's temperature will go up with the speed of the fan doesn't speed up.
Consequently, the overheating can cause damage to the engine. Meanwhile, the second situation will only create extra, unusual noise as the fan is locked up.
You can't drive the car during the first situation but can drive for a while in case you are in the second situation.
What does a bad fan clutch sound like?
It doesn't matter what the temperature or speed of the engine is the fan clutch makes unusual noises when it’s bad. It may be because the clutch is locked up or somewhere else.
Whenever you start the engine, the loud, audible clutch sound will tell you that it needs a replacement.
Can a bad fan clutch cause transmission problems?
Although it seems the clutch isn't directly related to the transmission of the vehicle, it has its effect on it when the clutch is bad.
A malfunctioned clutch has a direct effect on the cooling system of the engine, which down takes the overall engine performance.
As the engine is the most integral part of any vehicle, it will have its impact on the transmission as well and cause several problems.