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How Does An Intercooler Work?

Feb. 15, 2023
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The automotive intercooler is one such component, designed to improve the efficiency of the engine. It is one of the key components used to cool the compressed air of an internal combustion engine. It is usually used in turbocharged or mechanically supercharged engines. There are two basic types of intercooler. Air-to-air intercoolers use external air to transfer engine heat, while air-to-water intercoolers use water to do the same job.


Let's dive into more details of what an intercooler is and how it works.


What is an intercooler?

A car intercooler is recognised as one of the key components to improve the performance of a turbo engine. An intercooler is a type of radiator and, more specifically, a heat exchanger. The turbo intercooler is located between the turbo and the intake manifold.

Automotive Intercooler

Automotive Intercooler

The role of the intercooler

The purpose of an intercooler is to cool the air after it has been compressed by the turbocharger or supercharger and before it enters the car engine.


Intercoolers provide better performance while reducing fuel consumption. In addition, the exhaust gas emissions and the thermal load on the engine improve the reliability of the engine during overtaking. Its function is to reduce the air temperature which rises after the air has been compressed by the turbine. The efficiency of the intercooler is measured by its success in removing this heat.


When air is heated, it becomes less dense and loses oxygen. In engines, this can lead to several problems. The most common problem is a loss of efficiency. Other problems may include wear and thermal damage to the engine block and engine popping caused by air pockets in the air supplied for combustion.


In engines, the intercooler compensates for the overheating caused by supercharged or turbocharged engines. As the air cools, it becomes denser. This increased density allows more air and fuel to be burned per engine cycle, ultimately increasing engine power output.

Automotive Intercooler

Automotive Intercooler

Technically speaking, an intercooler is a device used between boost or boost stages to cool the air for use in the next stage. If the device is used at the end of the boost cycle, it is known as an aftercooler. Despite this distinction, the two names are often used interchangeably.


In addition, it regulates air temperature and extends engine life, and ensures that the air-fuel ratio in each cylinder is maintained.


Automotive intercooler repair

Car intercoolers are generally installed at the front of the engine and are cooled by suction fans and the air inside the car. Poor cooling of the intercooler can lead to a lack of engine power and increased fuel consumption. Therefore, the intercooler should be checked and maintained regularly. As the intercooler is installed at the front of the car, the intercooler's heat sink channels are often blocked by oil sludge (hydraulic oil overflowing from the steering tank) etc., which hinders the intercooler from dissipating heat, so this area should be cleaned regularly. The interior of the intercooler is often covered in sludge and other contaminants, so it also needs to be cleaned and maintained. It is usually cleaned once a year or when the engine or water tank is repaired.


The purpose of a car radiator is to keep the engine at a normal operating temperature. The air in the radiator, the water in the radiator and the thermal convection of the internal combustion engine exhaust are all part of this process. The radiator cooling fan helps circulate air through the system, while the antifreeze prevents everything from freezing in cold weather conditions.


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