Auto Parts Guide

Guide to Engine Oil Cooler-Can it Improve Vehicle Performance?

oil cooler lines

In order for you to understand how the engine oil cooler works, let us first define its actual meaning. In the simplest sense, the engine cooler is an integral part of the radiator system. It moves around a maze of pipes in the engine to provide a cooling effect. It can reduce the temperature by up to 30 degrees, which is why it can prevent the engine from overheating.

The oil cooler also helps maintain the proper viscosity level. If there is too much heat, the viscosity will decrease. In turn, this means that the oil may be difficult to adhere to the components. With an oil cooler, such problems are unlikely to occur.

How the Engine Oil Cooler Works

Of all the liquids found in your car, there is no doubt that oil plays the most important role. Moving parts can cause friction, and external conditions can also cause components to heat up. The oil will provide the required lubrication to ensure that these parts are not easily worn.

How the engine oil cooler works

The heat exchanger is very important to every engine, and its main function is to eliminate the energy generated when the engine is working. If your vehicle has a water cooling system, it will rely on the function of the radiator. On the other hand, if you are using an oil system, you must use an oil cooler.

The oil cooler is a component that looks like a small cross-flow heat exchanger. In order to make it more efficient, it can be placed in different positions in the engine according to the position deemed appropriate. The oil in the cooler will help maintain the optimum temperature range for the engine and its parts.

When the oil temperature is still high, it will enter the oil cooler. Inside the cooler, it will bypass the radiating pipe with fins. Once the oil is processed, it will be discharged at an already colder temperature. At this point, it is ready for circulation, and will go through the same process again.

Pros and Cons of Engine Oil Coolers

In order to better understand the working principle of the oil cooler, it is also important to understand its pros and cons.


it cools the components, and hence, this can be a great way to extend the functional life of an engine.


The placement of the engine oil cooler is hard

Engine Oil Cooler Buying Guide

By this time, you must have known that despite the disadvantages of oil coolers, they do bring benefits. However, this does not mean that any product is competent. You must be a responsible buyer and take the time to evaluate the possibilities, which will increase your likelihood of making the right decision.

The first thing you need to do is to determine the type of oil cooler kit you have to purchase.

The first is the oil-to-water engine cooler, which has a heat exchanger. On the other hand, the oil-to-air engine cooler has a small radiator that uses the surrounding air to provide a cooling effect.

You must also consider the amount of heat that needs to be removed, which depends on the power of the car. The greater the power, the more heat will be generated. You need to choose an oil cooler suitable for such requirements. If this were not the case, it would not be able to regulate the high temperature generated by the engine.

You must also consider ease of installation, which can be determined by looking at the comments of other users. Make sure that the place to be installed has sufficient air circulation, which will increase its cooling capacity.

As mentioned earlier, if the installation is too complicated for you, it is best to seek professional help.

Signs of Bad Oil Cooler

bad symptoms oil cooler linesExcept for two main reasons, oil coolers rarely fail. Leakage is the main reason, because the oil cooler is always under pressure and high temperature. The oil lines, seals and oil cooler core will eventually wear out, and degradation of small holes or seals will be prevented, causing the oil cooler to need to be replaced or resealed. This is obvious because the oil leak will come from somewhere other than the engine, most likely around the front bumper cover. Similarly, if the oil cooler cannot pass the oil through the oil cooler core, the oil cooler will prevent the oil from returning to the oil pan, and the knock sensor detects the lack of oil and produces a clicking sound. Check the engine light may Light up. Finally, if the oil cooler is blocked by debris on the front, or  if the fins on the oil cooler have become bent over a period of time, the check engine light or the oil temperature warning light may come on. However, this does not require frequent replacement, because there is a special comb that can straighten and clean the fins on the oil cooler to restore function. Please also note that a severely leaking oil cooler will illuminate the oil pressure warning light, and a blocked oil cooler or oil cooler line will also illuminate.

The oil cooler is essential to the operation of the car engine because its task is to keep the oil within the optimal lubrication temperature range. Some designs are bundled with the engine’s cooling system, while others use outside air like a radiator. When the oil passes through the coil (or stacked plates), the device cools the oil. Failure or damage to the oil cooler is not a good thing. The following signs indicate that potentially serious problems are occurring.

  1. Leaking Oil

Leaking oil is never a good sign. Most oil leaks are caused by poor connections or broken oil pan, engine gaskets or seals. Another area of concern is the oil cooler adapter, which connects to the oil pipeline and seals itself with a gasket. When the problem lies in the failure of the oil cooler, the oil will accumulate on the ground.

  1. Leaking Coolant

Some oil coolers use coolant (antifreeze) to keep the oil temperature stable. The coolant flows through (or bypasses) the coil or pipe, but does not come into contact with the oil. When the oil cooler fails, it will force all the coolant out of the engine and increase the risk of the engine overheating, which may cause engine damage. If the leak is severe, you will notice the coolant on the ground, or see steam gushing from under the hood.

  1. Coolant Mixed with Oil

When the coolant enters the engine and mixes with the oil, we usually attribute this problem to a cracked or warped cylinder head or a burst cylinder head gasket. Although not common, damage to the oil cooler can also cause the coolant to contaminate the engine oil, which can lead to engine damage. The GM’s L81 3.0L V6 engine actually stuffs the oil cooler into the engine block surrounded by coolant, and it is well known that when the oil cooler fails, the coolant will leak into the oiling system.

  1. Oil in the Cooling System

Just like you don’t want the coolant to mix with the oil in the engine, you will never want to find oil in the cooling system. This problem occurs when a poor oil cooler raises the oil pressure above the cooling system pressure, thereby forcing the oil into the cooling system. Once again, you are looking for engine damage due to lack of lubrication.

The life of the oil cooler should last as long as the engine or car. Therefore, it is usually not necessary to check these contents during routine maintenance. But be sure to pay attention to any abnormal conditions mentioned above. Other signs that the oil cooler is not working properly include loss of engine power, engine misfire, increased engine temperature, and increased dark exhaust emissions. Any of these symptoms are cause for a mechanic visit as soon as possible.

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