Intercoolers & Racing Radiators
Your engine is likely to get pretty hot over time. This is especially going to be the case if you’re getting plenty of use out of your turbocharger!
20:07 30 June 2020
Therefore, it’s always worth having an intercooler in place to make sure things have a chance to cool down and return to operative temperature. But what does an intercooler do for performance in the long run?
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at what an intercooler actually is (see here for what an intercooler looks like), and why intercooler cleaning is so important. Keep reading for the full lowdown.
What is an intercooler?
An intercooler acts as a counterpoint to your turbocharger. When the turbocharger pushes hot air into your engine, the intercooler system will provide cooler air from the other side. Therefore, it helps to balance out the temperature in your engine.
Crucially, this means that you get more oxygen in your engine. That, when you really dig deep into the science of it all, improves your engine’s performance in the long run. This is because it helps to improve the quality of combustion. More consistent engine temperature is, on the whole, more likely to withstand ongoing use.
What does an intercooler do?
An intercooler works to bring a level temperature to your engine. Depending on the type of intercooler you use, this may work through cool air blasts or through air to water. An air to water system pumps liquid through and extracts heat. Air to air, meanwhile, works through the use of internal fins.
Both systems are super-efficient at helping to cool down your engine. Without an intercooler, your turbocharger is just going to keep pressurizing your engine until it breaks down. Therefore, you need to take good care of it!
What is a racing radiator?
A racing radiator is much like an intercooler in that it pushes for maximum engine performance. These radiators, as you might expect, are built for racing. Therefore, they are extremely lightweight and are streamlined to offer maximum air quality protection. These systems allow you to cool down your engine so that you can keep racing at full throttle.
Racing radiators tend to be a little more advanced in their builds and features than standard intercoolers. There is likely to be much more pressure placed on a racing car than an everyday run-around! Therefore, if you are likely to take your car racing at any point, it is a good idea to consider investing in a specific racing radiator for the best performance. You’re going to need to cool down quickly so you can get ahead of the pack.
How do I flush my cooling system?
Flushing out your intercooler from time to time is a good idea. This is because it’s likely to clog up with oil, dust, dirt, and other debris as time goes by. Therefore, do always give yourself time regularly to clean your intercooler out.
To do this, you’re going to need to simply remove the intercooler (your engine manual should tell you how to do this safely), before cleaning it down with a kerosene solution or similar. This might sound a little daunting, but there are only a few steps you need to take to really make sure your intercooler is performing at its best.
However, if you are ever unsure about how to flush cooling system essentials, it’s worth approaching a mechanic or a specialist who can help you along the way.
How to clean an intercooler
For now, let’s look at a few basic steps on how to clean intercooler systems. Naturally, your engine setup and intercooler may vary from model to model. However, it’s worth keeping the following points in mind as a launchpad for intercooler cleaning.
- Carefully remove your intercooler. You’ll likely need to look at your engine or parts manual to do this safely.
- Make sure that you are wearing protective gloves and goggles and ensure that you siphon away any oil you collect during the intercooler removal.
- Use degreaser, once your intercooler is in a suitable tray or bucket, to get rid of nuisance debris. You’re going to need to clean both sides, around four to five inches away.
- Degrease the inside of your piping to get the worst of the build-up off. Then, be sure to let everything drip away. This is likely only going to take a minute or so.
- You should then soak and deep clean your intercooler in kerosene. Again, careful measures are needed, here! This should take around 15 to 20 minutes, and it’s going to make sure all the nasty dirt and debris come clean off.
- You’re going to need to let the intercooler dry off somewhere flat and neutral. Never put an intercooler on your lawn if it’s dripping in kerosene! Give it somewhere dry and warm outside to dry down for four hours or so.
- Then, refit your intercooler as normal – and based on your instruction manual. It’s that easy!
What are the advantages of adding aftermarket intercoolers?
Adding aftermarket intercoolers means you can effectively up the horsepower potential of your car. It’s a surprisingly useful and affordable upgrade. Aftermarket intercoolers will allow you to boost the safety potential for your engine, and what’s more, they will give your engine more relief when you really push it to the limit.
Default intercoolers may not be able to work as hard as you need them to. Aftermarket systems are incredibly versatile and are choice upgrades for racers and those drivers looking for that elusive extra push of power.
No matter where you are in the world, your engine could always do with cold air. Even if you are racing in the Arctic, your engine is still going to heat up and bog down. It’s worth holding out for an aftermarket intercooler just to crank up the deep freeze.
Does an intercooler add horsepower? It’ll certainly beef up the engine’s potential – give it a go and see how far you get!
Looking for the best race radiator for your car? There are plenty of great options out there. Look after your intercooler, however, and it will continue to push hard for you no matter where you travel and no matter how fast.