Why Is Your Radiator Fan Not Working : Causes, Fixes & Replacement Cost

Radiator Fan Not Working

A radiator fan is not working can be a serious problem. Because failure to function may cause the engine to overheat, potentially resulting in engine damage or a complete seizure,

There are many different parts used in a vehicle’s engine cooling system, such as the coolant, radiator, thermostat valve, water pump, and radiator fan. But sometimes the radiator fan malfunctions, causing the vehicle to run. The cooling system completely fails, and the engine starts overheating. In this article, you will learn in detail about radiator fans not working and other problems.

What is A Radiator Fan?

The radiator fan is a component located at the front of a vehicle’s radiator that cools hot engine coolant circulating in the cooling system to maintain a normal engine temperature. In older vehicles, the radiator fan is belt-driven. But in modern vehicles, the radiator fan is equipped with an electric motor, and the fan automatically turns on and off when the coolant temperature reaches a certain point.

Why is Radiator Fan Not Working – Causes

If your vehicle’s radiator fan is not working, possible causes are a faulty fan motor, a bad temperature sensor, a blown fuse, or a damaged wiring connection.

We will go through the reasons for radiator fans not working in detail one by one so that you can check the bad radiator fan based on these reasons and make possible solutions. Because the engine may shut down if the radiator fan is not running while the vehicle is running.

1. Faulty Radiator Fan Motor

Many times, the radiator fan of a vehicle gets damaged or may break for some reason. In a manual radiator fan, many times the bearing of the radiator fan shaft gets damaged, due to which the fan is not able to run and can get stuck in one place. In an electric radiator fan, also due to damage to the motor, the radiator fan is not able to work.

2. Loose or Broken Fan Belt


Often, a loose or broken belt is also the cause of a manual radiator fan not working. In many cases, the radiator fan belt becomes too loose, and when the engine is started, the belt starts to slip, causing the radiator fan not to work. or less works.

3. Bad Thermostat Valve

Often in modern and contemporary vehicles, the thermostat valve plays an important role in automatically turning the radiator fan on or off. Because the excess pressure of hot coolant in the engine’s coolant system opens the thermostat valve and activates the temperature switch, the radiator fan turns on. But a bad thermostat valve can get stuck, causing the electric radiator fan not to work.

4. Faulty Temperature Switch

Automatic radiator fans turn on and off based on the system temperature switch. Because the active temperature switch supplies electric power to the radiator motor, which turns on the radiator fan. But a bad or damaged temperature switch may also cause the radiator fan not to work.

5. Bad Water Pump


In many cases, a bad water pump can also cause the radiator fan to not work. Because a bad water pump can block the flow of coolant into the engine’s coolant system, the thermostat valve is not able to open and the temperature switch does not activate and the radiator fan becomes unable to work. A bad or broken water pump will cause the engine to overheat very quickly.

6. Low Coolant Level

The reason for the radiator fan not working can also be a low level of engine coolant.Because of the low coolant level, the thermostat is unable to open the valve and the temperature switch also doesn’t activate properly, so the radiator doesn’t turn on.

7. Leaking Coolant System

Sometimes, a leak in the engine’s coolant system can also cause an automatic electric radiator fan to not work. Because of a leak in the coolant system, the thermostat valve does not have proper pressure, causing the temperature switch not to be able to turn on the radiator fan.

8. Electric Issues

In modern vehicles, the operation of the radiator fan is based on electric components. But a bad temperature switch and wiring issues can also cause a radiator fan to not work. In many cases, a bad radiator motor could also be the reason.

9. Blown Fuse

A blown fuse can also be the reason the radiator fan is not working. Because the power supply to the radiator fan motor does not reach it due to the blown fuse, the radiator fan is unable to run.

10. Faulty Temperature Sensor

In vehicles, the temperature sensor sends a signal of the engine temperature to the vehicle’s ECM, which in turn makes the vehicle ECM turn on and off the radiator fan based on the engine temperature. But a faulty temperature sensor can also cause the radiator fan to not work.

11. Bad Radiator Fan Relay

Often, in vehicles, a faulty radiator fan relay can be the cause of a radiator fan not working. Because the relay controls the supply to the radiator fan motor. But a bad relay can turn off the power supply to the radiator fan.

Bad Radiator Fan Symptoms

  • Engine temperature is higher than normal.
  • The AC system is not getting cooling air.
  • No sound of radiator fan
  • Steam or smoke coming from the hood of the vehicle
  • Unusual noise coming from the radiator fan
  • Smoke or burning smell from the radiator motor
  • Rapid engine overheating
  • Check engine light on

How Does A Radiator Fan Work?

In older vehicles, the radiator fan runs continuously from the start of the engine. In such vehicles, the radiator fan is continuously rotated by a belt with engine power. This type of radiator fan does not have an electric motor, nor does it turn on or off at a set temperature point in the engine.

But in modern vehicles or present-day vehicles, the working mechanism of the radiator fan is different. The radiator fan of these types of vehicles works automatically depending on the temperature of the engine. Such radiator fans have an electric motor. When the engine temperature rises, the hot coolant passes through the radiator to the thermostat valve in the engine’s cooling system. The thermostat valve is closed at normal engine coolant temperature.

When the coolant is hotter than the engine’s normal temperature and overpressure builds up in the engine’s cooling system, the thermostat valve opens once the coolant temperature reaches a certain point and an open thermostat activates the valve temperature switch, causing the radiator fan to turn on and run until the coolant temperature returns to normal and when the temperature returns to normal, the thermostat valve closes again and deactivates the temperature switch, turning off the radiator fan. Thus, this cycle continues automatically.

How To Fix Radiator Fan Not Working

If your vehicle’s radiator fan is not working, the cause must first be investigated in order to fix it. After this, work should be done on fixing it. To fix the radiator fan not working, you can follow these steps:

  • First check the radiator fan fuse, if the main fuse is blown or corroded, replace the radiator fan main fuse with a new one.
  • The engine coolant level should be checked. If the coolant level is low, top it up with new coolant.
  • Also check the radiator fan relay and wiring. If the radiator fan relay is faulty or the wiring is damaged, repair the wiring or replace the relay.
  • Check the temperature switch and sensor. If either of these two components is defective, it should be replaced immediately. Because it can cause overheating of the engine.
  • Leakage in the coolant system should also be checked. Because leaking coolant can affect the functioning of the thermostat valve and cause the radiator fan to not work.
  • The radiator fan motor should also be checked. If the radiator fan motor is faulty, it will also need to be replaced.
  • The thermostat valve should also be checked. If the thermostat valve is bad, it should also be replaced.

What Happens If Radiator Fan Not Working?

When the radiator fan stops working, the first thing that happens is that the engine temperature of your vehicle starts increasing, and if it is not taken care of in time, the engine can reach a state of overheating.

Because the radiator fan plays a vital role in dissipating the heat generated by the engine and maintaining an optimum operating temperature, Ultimately, engine overheating can cause the cylinder head to warp, the engine head gasket to blow, and even the engine to seize. Additionally, prolonged overheating can also damage other components like the thermostat and water pump.

Can I Drive Car If Radiator Fan is Not Working?

Yes, you can run your car without the radiator fan if you keep the car running smoothly and prevent the engine from overheating, but you should never do this. Because if your engine overheats, your vehicle’s cooling system gets damaged. You can try this process when your vehicle is stuck on the road and you have to drive it some distance to the mechanic shop.

Radiator Fan Replacement Cost

On average, the cost of replacing a radiator fan can range from $400 to $600 for typical vehicles, and mechanic labor costs can range from $150 to $300.

But it should be noted that depending on the location, the labor cost of the mechanic may be more or less and in luxury and larger vehicles, the replacement cost of the radiator fan is higher.

In many vehicles, a bad radiator fan may require the replacement of the entire fan assembly. Because the fan motor is fixed in the radiator assembly. In that case, the radiator fan replacement cost will be higher than usual. The replacement cost of a radiator fan depends more on the make and model of the vehicle and the type of radiator. Along with this, the labor costs and location of the mechanic also affect this cost.


Q. Is the radiator fan repairable?

The repair of a radiator fan depends on what is wrong with it. If the wiring, bearing, belt, or fuse of the radiator fan is bad, it can be repaired. But if the motor is bad or burned,  it will have to be replaced.

Q. Is radiator fan expensive?

On average, replacement costs for a radiator fan or cooling fan assembly can range from around $400 to $600. And the labor cost for its replacement will typically be between $100 and $300. However, the type of vehicle and the rates applicable in your area may affect its cost.

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