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If you have an overheating car, then you have a serious problem on your hands. An overheated engine can turn into a totalled car—you can cause irreparable damage if the heat in your engine spikes. It’s a problem that’s best to avoid.

Now, you may find it confusing if your car has normal temperatures while you’re driving, yet it’s overheating while you’re sitting at a stoplight. After all, the rpms are low. Why is the engine heat so high? Well, it’s likely that you actually have a problem with your cooling fan. Fan problems can arise from a series of issues. Let’s delve into the purpose of your cooling fan, the types of cooling fans, and the problems that can arise and cause a temperature spike in your car.

What Your Cooling Fan Should Do

To understand what your cooling fan should do, it’s important to understand what your radiator does. Your radiator cools your engine. It utilizes coolant (or antifreeze) which absorbs thermal energy from the engine. As coolant travels through the radiator, it cools down to a safe temperature to reenter your engine—and it attains a cooler temperature by running through fins in your radiator. Now, these fins rely on airflow to cool the coolant. Fresh air is cool enough to reduce your coolant temperatures to a safe temperature for your engine. So, in short, fresh air is important.

Your vehicle’s cooling fans (or fan) ensure that your radiator receives plenty of fresh air to keep temperatures stable and safe.

Types of Cooling Fans

There are two types of cooling fans that you might find under the hood of your car. Your vehicle may have an electric fan (or fans), or it may have a fan that’s belt driven.

Electric Fans: Electric fans run off of your battery and alternator, and they rely on electric components to make the blades move. Electrical fans are usually triggered by a thermometer to turn on and off.

Belt Driven Fans: Fans may also run directly off of engine power. If you have a belt driven fan, you should be able to see the belt as it drives the fan. In addition, the fan should be on for the entire duration while your engine is running.

Cooling Fan Problems

For Electric Fans: If you have an electrical fan that’s not turning on, you may have faulty wires, the fan may not be plugged in, you may have a faulty resistor pack, or you may have a problem with the fan switch (which triggers the fan to run when the engine is heated). You can test your fan to make sure that it’s spinning by turning on the AC in your car; it often triggers the engine cooling fan (or fans) to turn on.

For Belt Driven Fans: With belt driven fans, you may have a loose belt, a frayed belt, or a belt that’s completely snapped and missing. Most of the time, you’ll simply need to replace your fan belt to regain its cooling power.

Count on Avalon Motorsports for Repairs

If you’ve noticed that your engine is overheating, even when it’s not moving your vehicle, then it’s likely a fan problem. Bring your auto into our shop for a repair. We provide service for German-made vehicles, including Audi®, BMW®, Volkswagen®, Porsche®, and Mini® autos. Count on Avalon Motorsports as your Denver source for German-manufactured vehicle repairs—get started today by scheduling an appointment for service!