Auto Body Group: Collision Repair Center | Oil Cooler Taken for Granted Until There’s a Problem
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Oil Cooler Taken for Granted Until There’s a Problem

It can be easy to take your car’s oil cooler for granted. This is by design since, assuming you’re taking good care of your car, the cooling system should last as long as the engine itself without any extra work. However, overall negligence of maintenance can be the slippery slope that eventually leads to problems with your car’s oil cooler. Today, we’ll look at the warning signs of a faulty cooler as well as get an understanding of this important part to which you’ve maybe never given a second thought.

The Popular Water-to-Engine Oil Cooler


The water-to-engine oil cooler is the oil cooler type most commonly found in cars.

The oil cooler in your car is often referred to as the engine cooler because its responsibility is to alleviate any superfluous heat that could be negatively impacting your engine oil. Designs can vary from vehicle to vehicle, but typically the cooler relies on a system in which the oil is routed to the cooler through an adapter situated between the oil filter and the engine block. The heated oil passes through these tubes with the coolant surrounding the tubes serving to effectively and efficiently cool the flowing oil. In this manner, the cooler allows the heat to move through the coolant and to the air routed through the radiator. Again, designs vary, but most cars take advantage of the water-to-oil engine cooler described here.

The Different Types of Leaks That Impact a Cooling System


Among other things, an overheating engine can signal a failing oil cooler.

Oil cooler leaks are the most common cooler issues, but there are a variety of ways your engine cooling system can leak. The first, and most common, is leaking of the oil itself. This can arise through problems with the adapter, which is a rubber ring that transfers the oil through the cooler before sending it back to the oil pan. If there is a defect in the adapter, oil can get backed up and spill out of the engine, resulting in an often visible leak. However, if the cooling system has an exterior defect, your coolant may be the fluid that leaks instead. A warning sign of this issue would be leaking coolant though it may also result in your engine overheating depending on whether the leak and resulting cooling system failure are severe. Oftentimes, coolant leaks of a critical nature are signaled by steam rising from the engine area.

Other Causes of Cooling Problems

Sometimes, your engine’s oil winds up in your cooling system, resulting in subpar lubrication that will eventually result in engine damage. This results from an imbalance between the cooling system pressure and oil pressure which propels oil into the cooling system itself. Similarly, coolant can find its way into the oil pan as a result of pressure in the cooling system when the engine isn’t in use. This can also cause critical damage to the crankshaft.

Oil needs to maintain a certain viscosity to keep your car’s mechanical parts properly lubricated. If oil temperatures rise beyond a reasonable level, the viscosity is compromised and the longevity of parts can be dramatically reduced. To ensure that your car is operating at its optimum capabilities, your oil cooler must remain in working order. The consequences range from degraded oil and deteriorated auto parts to full scale engine failure. Proper general maintenance of your car can work wonders in keeping problems with oil coolers at bay.

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