How to Remove a Radiator Fan

by Cayden Conor

If you’re stuck in traffic or just sitting at a long light and your vehicle starts to get hot, but cools down as soon as you start driving, chances are your radiator fan is not working properly. There are two types of fans on cars: electric and manual. Electric fans are on one side of the radiator or the other. If you have an electric fan on the front of the radiator (closer to the grill), it is a pusher fan. If it on the side of the radiator closer to the engine, it is a puller fan. They work the same way, but are in a different location. A manual fan is run by a fan clutch and a belt, and it is generally attached to the water pump pulley on the engine.

Remove an Electric Fan

Remove the positive battery terminal and lay it aside. Do not remove the negative terminal only, as it could inadvertently touch metal and re-ground the battery.

Remove the wiring hookups to the electric fan. Some fans may have a plug in. Some of them may have butt connectors holding the wires together. If it’s a plug in, use a screwdriver to push the tabs in, then pull the plug out. If you are dealing with butt connectors, squeeze them open and carefully pull the wires out. Remember which wires are connected, as they may or may not be the same colors.

Cut the plastic retaining clips that run through the fan guard into the radiator. Pull them out. You should get new retaining clips with the new fan.

Remove the fan from the radiator and install the new fan.

Remove a Manual Fan

Remove the fan shroud from the fan.

Loosen the four (some cars may have five bolts) bolts holding the fan onto the water pump pulley. Remove the drive belt from the pulley. If the vehicle is equipped with a serpentine belt (one long belt), be sure you have a belt diagram, so you can reinstall the belt properly.

Remove the loosened bolts out of the fan and remove the fan and fan clutch from the vehicle.

Drape the belt over the water pump pulley, so you don’t have to fight it over the fan blades.

Replace the fan or fan clutch (you will most likely be replacing only the fan clutch, unless you damaged the fan blades on the fan). Put the bolts back into and tighten them in a diagonal pattern (once they are snug, give one turn at a time to the bolt at 10:00, at 5:00, at 2:00 then at 8:00, continue until the proper torque has been reached).

Reinstall the belt. Reinstall the fan shroud.


  • close Always be careful when working with wiring. You should always remove the positive battery cable to avoid any chance of loose wires grounding themselves against the body of the car.
  • close Make sure the car is off and the fans are not moving before sticking your hands into the engine compartment.
  • close Never stick anything in a turning fan blade. The fan will grab the tool from your hand and send it flying.

About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.

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