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Home >   How To >   Buyer's Guides >   Buyer's Guide: How to Buy an Intercooler

Buyer's Guide: How to Buy an Intercooler



How to Buy an Intercooler


How to Buy an Intercooler

An intercooler is a component used in vehicles with turbo or superchargers. It cools the pressurized-hot air entering the engine from the turbo, thereby preventing the engine from premature wear and detonation. An intercooler is so called because it is usually placed in between turbos in a multiple-turbo system. The intercooler is called an aftercooler when it is placed at the end of the turbo cycle, between the turbo and the engine but oftentimes, the term intercooler refers to any of the aforementioned configurations. This buyer's guide explains the need, types and various locations of intercoolers in a turbocharged engine system. We make it is easy at to find the correct replacement intercooler for your vehicle.


Purpose of an Intercooler


The intercoolers serve the purpose of reducing the temperature of the compressed air flowing out of the turbocharger or supercharger. The turbochargers are used to push dense air into the engine to increase its horsepower. During the process of compression, the turbo naturally generates a lot of heat. This heat, when allowed to enter the engine, can damage it and result in its untimely failure. Another severe problem caused due to the heat in the engine is detonation. An intercooler is employed in between the turbo and the engine to remove this heat and allow the engine to deliver an optimal efficiency. Intercoolers are available in different sizes and configurations depending on the requirement of the engine.




Kinds of Intercoolers


Air-to-air Intercoolers


Air-to-air intercoolers use a series of tubes which have fins inside them. The compressed air, when passed through the tubes, transfers the heat to the tubes and the fins. The heat from the fins is then absorbed by the ambient air, thereby cooling the compressed air. Air-to-air coolers are the most common types of intercoolers employed in automobiles. These intercoolers have a simple structure and are lighter than air-to-liquid intercoolers.


Air-to-liquid Intercoolers


Air-to-liquid intercoolers use water or a water-solvent mixture to reduce the temperature of the hot air. Cool water is passed through intercooler system that removes the heat from the hot air. These intercoolers are smaller than air-to-air intercoolers and are therefore employed in automobiles where space is a major constraint.



Locations of Intercoolers


Intercoolers are mounted to the engine in various ways, depending on the vehicle's requirement and configuration.


Front-mounted Intercoolers: These intercoolers are mounted to the front of the engine, under the radiator. This location is the most commonly used for intercoolers. . The front mounted coolers allows for a large amount of ambient air to pass over their chambers, resulting in better cooling.


Top-mounted Intercoolers: Here, the intercoolers are mounted to the top of the engine. They reduce the turbo lag as they are located closer to the engine. These intercoolers receive less external air and are hence considered less efficient than front-mounted intercoolers.


Side-mounted Intercoolers: These intercoolers are also mounted to the front of the engine, but on the sides of the vehicle (in the front of the wheels). These intercoolers are smaller compared to top-mounted and front-mounted intercoolers. They are less efficient than front-mounted coolers, as they fail to block the air from traveling to the radiator.


Causes and Symptoms of Faulty Intercoolers


  • Over time, the intercooler inlet hoses or outlet hoses may be subjected to breaks or cracks or corrosion, resulting in leakage of air. This air leak will affect the overall efficiency of the engine.
  • The intercooler may also perform below its standard when there is any debris in the compressed air.
  • In an air-to-water intercooler system, components such as the pump or reservoir may fail, causing the intercooler to malfunction.


Some of the common symptoms of a defective intercooler include decreased engine efficiency and engine detonation. Due to detonation, combustion process may leave unburnt fuel residue. This can emit a strong odor of gasoline. Otherwise, detonation also causes a pinging or knocking noise. Find more about the symptoms of defective intercoolers in this link: Symptoms of a Bad Intercooler


Maintenance Routine for Intercoolers


A periodic inspection of the intercooler can prevent costly repairs for it in the future.


  • Generally, intercoolers need to be cleaned every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, or as recommended in the owner's manual.
  • If you are using a water-based cooler, check for the optimal level of water periodically.
  • The water cooler pump needs lubrication on a regular basis.


Finding Your Intercooler's OEM Part Number


If for any reason you cannot find your intercooler by entering your vehicle's year, make and model, you can find it by its Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) number. The OEM part number can be found directly on the part itself. You can also call a dealership with your VIN, and they will provide you with the OEM part number. You can give one of our car specialists a call at 1-888-907-7225 for further assistance in purchasing your intercooler.


Part Numbers on Intercooler


Intercooler Kit


While replacing a damaged intercooler, it is always a wise decision to replace the associated parts including the inlet hose and outlet hose, as well. stocks a wide range of intercooler kits for every make and model. Buying an intercooler kit will give you a large discount. also stocks Intercooler Pipe Kits.


Intercooler Kit


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Frequently Asked Questions


Can I take the intercooler off my vehicle and put it into another automobile?

Definitely not. Intercoolers have minor modifications depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle. Besides that, there are air and water based intercoolers and they are also fixed in different positions.



Can I install the intercooler hoses myself?

Changing the intercooler hoses is a pretty simple process and can be done easily on your own. Make sure that you refer to your owner's manual for the location of intercoolers and the precautionary measures for safe installation.



How much does an intercooler cost?

Check out the following link to know the parts and labor costs of intercoolers: How Much Does an Intercooler Cost?



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