Oil Cooler and Symptoms of Failure

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Oil Cooler and Symptoms of Failure


The oil cooler is a very important system part. The reason for this is that the engine that enables the vehicle to move needs oil at the appropriate temperature. The oil cooler is responsible for cooling the heated oil in the system.

The oil cooler does the same job as the radiator for the engine oil. This part is a small radiator located between the front assemblies of the vehicle. Especially on days when the weather is hot and traffic density is high, the oil heats up more.



Therefore, the function of the oil cooler becomes more important in hot seasons. It may also wear out from time to time or fail after possible impacts. When such situations occur, some symptoms of oil cooler failure occur in the vehicle.

What Does an Oil Cooler Do?

Many parts work systematically inside the engine block. In order for parts such as the crankshaft and gearbox to work safely and correctly, the oil circulating in the vehicle must be cooled. The oil cooler is responsible for preventing the engine oil from getting hot.

The working principle of the cooler is as follows. The oil that passes through the moving parts in the engine heats up. With the help of the oil pump, the heated oil is cooled. It is then made available. Because the heated oil cannot fully fulfill its task.

In addition to being surrounded by air fins, the cooler works actively thanks to the tiny channels it contains. It is a compact part in the form of a radiator. For example, while driving, the air passes through the oil cooler, lowering the temperature of the hot oil.

However, a normal temperature can also be achieved with the engine coolant. The cycle continues in this way throughout the time the vehicle is running. Thus, it benefits engine health.



It is usually made of stainless steel or aluminum. But sometimes plastic side tanks can also be encountered. In addition, thanks to the light fins in the system, optimum heat distribution is made possible.

The only disadvantage of this system is that more oil is required to refill the cooler and channels during oil change. The location of the cooler in the vehicle is in front of the engine cooling system. However, in some vehicles, the water cooling is under the radiator.

Along with all these, oil coolers are in two categories. Although hydraulic and fan coolers basically perform the same function, they have some differences. Fan oil coolers, as the name suggests, perform the cooling function with the help of a fan.

The task of hydraulic coolers is to reduce the temperature of the oil. But unlike the fan oil cooler, it performs the cooling process. It lowers the temperature with the help of cold water passing around the oil moving through the copper pipe.

Coolant Temperature Sensor

The coolant temperature sensor, ECT, reflects information on the engine’s operating temperature to the engine control unit.

In this way, the amount of fuel and ignition functions can be adjusted. The sensor is used by the fuel management to detect the operating temperature of the engine.

According to the sensor information, the control unit is adjusted in accordance with the operating conditions of the injection time and ignition angle.

Also, the coolant temperature sensor may malfunction from time to time. Some of the common fault symptoms are as follows:

  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Higher idle speed
  • bad startup behavior

Oil Cooler Failures

When a malfunction occurs in the oil cooler, the vehicle starts to show some signs of malfunction. Symptoms of malfunctions must be taken into account by drivers.

From time to time, malfunctions may occur when foreign objects such as rocks and stones hit the cooler working in cooperation with the radiator.

After a while, these malfunctions can grow and cause more serious problems. Some of the fault symptoms are as follows:

  • Smoke coming out of the exhaust
  • Extremely noisy operation of the vehicle
  • Burning of the oil pressure gauge
  • Imbalance of engine temperature
  • Illumination of engine check fault lamp
  • Engine oil leaking from the front of the vehicle to the ground
  • Decreased engine performance
  • Engine oil level lower than it should be
  • Vibration, misfire and stalling problems in the engine

Oil Leakage in Cooler

There is an oil cooler adapter in the oil cooler system. The adapter connects the oil pipe to the cooler. The other adapter returns the cooled oil to the oil pan. There are parts such as gasket and o-ring inside the adapter.

In addition, system parts such as clamps and hoses can also cause oil leakage when worn. This problem may also occur when there are holes, cracks or cracks. After oil leaks, the gears of the vehicle are damaged.

The floor of the vehicle should be checked for oil leaks from time to time. When this problem is encountered, the oil level decreases. The engine loses its lubricating ability after a while.

Water Leakage in Oil Cooler

Coolers use engine coolant to bring the oil to ideal temperatures. The refrigerant water flows through the system parts but does not come into contact with the oil.

However, a malfunction here will cause this fluid to leak. If the necessary maintenance work is not performed, the engine may overheat. Also, if the leak is small, coolant may accumulate under the vehicle. If the leak is large, steam will form in the exhaust header.

Mixing of Oil with Engine Water

As with any malfunction, the mixing of oil with the engine coolant (antifreeze) also causes problems. If the oil cooler fails, oil can be seen in the engine coolant.

The reason is that the oil pressure during engine operation is higher than the cooling system pressure. In such cases, changing the engine coolant is one of the alternative methods that can be applied.

Mixing of Engine Coolant with Oil

It is not uncommon for coolant to mix with oil. When this happens, most often the problem is with the cylinder head gasket. The circulation in the radiator becomes clogged due to malfunctions and overheating occurs.

During a failure, the coolant water forces the oil pan. For its solution, the system must be cleaned by performing the necessary repairs, otherwise the crankshafts will be forced.

Oil Cooler Change

The vehicle is lifted to replace the oil cooler. To access the coolant, the engine bottom cover is opened and the oil is drained from the engine. The cooler is disconnected from the system equipment (supply and return lines) and removed from its location. The new cooler is installed and reconnected to the system.

Engine oil is added to it, the cover is closed again and the vehicle is lowered. Then the necessary controls are provided on the vehicle. When there is a problem with the oil cooler, it will be more appropriate for an authorized technician to repair the vehicle by providing the appropriate conditions.

Because vehicle owners may not have sufficient equipment and necessary knowledge.

It is also useful to change the engine oil and filter during the oil cooler change. In this way, the cooler does not clog due to substances such as mud.

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