How to wire an electric radiator fan

Written by phil altshuler
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How to wire an electric radiator fan
Wiring a electric fan is simple. (cool air image by Lennartz from Fotolia.com)

Electric radiator fans provide extra cooling or replace an existing belt-driven fan. Many newer vehicles use electric fans. They provide a more efficient airflow at a constant velocity. Some fans have an option to reverse them. Fans can either push air or pull air through the radiator. This is dependent on the manufacturer and the blade style. There are several different ways to wire an electric fan. One way is to control it with thermostat. The details for a thermostat installation are in Section 1. The advantage of the thermostat is automatic control. The thermostat control can be factory installed or an aftermarket control. Another method is to use a switch. The switch method is in Section 2.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wire
  • Wire stripper
  • Eyelet crimp-on connector (5/16-inch hole)
  • Butt splice connectors
  • Inline-fuse and fuse holder
  • Female spade connectors
  • Crimper tool
  • Electrical tape
  • Thermostat control (optional)
  • Zip ties

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Disconnect the battery. Make sure the wire size is correct for the fan. Measure a length of wire from the positive side of the car's battery to the thermostat control mounting location. Leave it long enough to zip-tie it to other wires, to make it neat and keep it away from moving parts. Cut a length of wire from the thermostat control to the fan.

  2. 2

    Strip about 3/8-inch of wire going from the battery to the thermostat control mounting location. Place the eyelet on the wire and use the crimping tool to crimp it on the wire. Attach the eyelet to the positive side of the battery terminal. Find a location for the fuse holder and install it. Then measure the wire from the battery to the fuse holder. Cut and strip the wire. Use a butt connector and crimp it to the wire. Do this on both sides of the fuse.

  3. 3

    Install the thermostat. Follow the directions and mount it out of the way of moving parts and areas that require normal servicing. Be careful not to damage the sensor. Work your way from the fuse, removing the slack in the wires and attaching zip ties every six inches.

  4. 4

    Strip the wire at the end that connects to the thermostat. Place the wire in the female-spade connector crimp end. Crimp it to the wire. Repeat this for the wire that goes from the thermostat to the fan. Push both of the connectors on to the thermostat.

  5. 5

    Route the wire from the thermostat to the fan. Secure the wire with zip ties. Strip the wires at the fan and the wire from the thermostat. Use a butt splice to attach the wire to the fan.

  6. 6

    Attach a butt splice to the other wire from the fan. Measure a length of wire to a grounding point. This could be the ground cable or any other grounding point in the engine compartment.

  7. 7

    Route the wire using zip ties. Then crimp on an eyelet on the end of the wire and attach to the grounding point. Use electrical tape to wrap the butt splices at the fan. This will keep road grime out of the connections. Re-connect the battery and check the fan operation.

  1. 1

    Disconnect the battery. Make sure the wire size is correct for the fan. Measure a length of wire from the battery to the switch mounting location. Leave it long enough to zip tie it to other wires to make it neat and keep it away from moving parts. Then cut a length from the switch to the fan.

  2. 2

    Strip about 3/8-inch of wire going from the battery to the switch mounting location. Attach the eyelet to the positive side of the battery terminal. Find a location for the fuse. Install the inline-fuse holder. Then measure the wire from the battery to the fuse holder. Use a butt connector and crimp it to the wire. Do this on both sides of the fuse holder. Work your way from the fuse, removing the slack and attaching zip ties every six inches.

  3. 3

    Mount the switch. Strip the wire at the end that connects to the switch. Place the wire in the female-spade connector crimp end. Crimp it to the wire. Repeat this for the wire from the switch to the fan. Then push both connectors onto the switch. Some switches have a light on them. To make the light work, you need to add another wire to ground the switch.

  4. 4

    Route the wire from the switch to the fan. Use zip ties from the switch wire to the fan. Strip the wires at the fan. Use a butt splice to attach the wire to the fan. Attach a butt splice to the other wire from the fan. Measure a length of wire to a grounding point. This could be the ground cable or any other grounding point.

  5. 5

    Crimp the wire to the butt splice on the fan. Route the wire using zip ties. Then crimp an eyelet on the end of the wire and attach to the grounding point. Use electrical tape to wrap the butt splices at the fan. This will keep road grime out of the connections. Re-connect the battery and check the fan operation.

Tips and warnings

  • Check fan rotation with jumper wires before wiring.
  • Some thermostats are adjustable. Read the instructions carefully.
  • You can use a temperature coolant switch instead of a thermostat.
  • AWG 14-16 connectors are blue and AWG 10-12 connectors are yellow.
  • Make sure the battery is disconnected before starting to work.
  • Keep your hands away from the fan blades when testing.

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