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Oil Cooler & Lines - Engine

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What is an engine oil cooler and where is it located?

Engine oil’s primary role is to lubricate the engine parts and protect them from the effects of friction. The friction that does occur, as well as the heat from combustion, heats up the engine and the oil with it. Some vehicles use an oil cooler to take some of the heat off the engine oil. This is seen most often in vehicle’s whose engines are expected to work hard, like trucks and SUVs intended for towing, and sports cars. And some vehicles have an oil cooler built into the radiator itself, rather than an external one solely dedicated to this task.

The oil cooler is essentially a radiator that oil, rather than coolant, flows through. Before returning to the engine oil pan, the oil flows into the cooler via metal lines or rubber hoses, and then through it. Just like a radiator, the cooler has tubes that absorb heat from the fluid, and fins that dissipate the heat into the air. The oil cooler is usually mounted behind the grille, in front of the radiator. It is connected to the engine and the oil pan by rubber hoses or metal lines.

How do I know if my engine oil cooler needs to be replaced?

Since an engine oil cooler is so much like a radiator, oil cooler failure resembles radiator failure. An engine oil cooler can become clogged or develop leaks. Since the engine oil cooler sits behind the grille of the car or truck, it is constantly exposed to the elements and anything coming at the vehicle while driving. This oncoming debris can possibly damage the oil cooler causing it to leak or worse, to no longer work at all. Leaks lead to a loss of oil, which means that the oil cooler will become less effective at cooling the engine and its parts and be unable to provide sufficient lubrication. As a result of the friction from the lack of oil, overheating can occur. You would never notice the engine temperature going up, as only certain parts are getting damaged. Lack of oil results in destroyed bearings (camshaft, crankshaft) and any parts they come in contact with. Before it gets this far though, you may notice that your oil temperature gauge is reading high or that your oil pressure gauge is reading low (due to oil lost to leaks), and do the necessary inspections.

If oil is leaking onto hot parts under the hood, you may see black smoke rising from under the hood. Leaking oil can also get into the engine causing it to run poorly and for black smoke to come out of the exhaust. 

The best way to verify that the problem is being caused by your oil cooler is to visually inspect it for oil leaks, or distention. Overheating can damage engine parts, including the oil cooler. Too much heat can stress the oil cooler and cause it to warp. It may develop a visibly distended look. With vehicles that have an oil cooler built into the radiator, problems with these coolers would require more work, like draining the cooling system and transmission fluid, as most automatic transmission vehicles have a transmission cooler in the radiator as well.

Can I replace an engine oil cooler myself?

As intimidating as it might sound, replacing an engine oil cooler can be done by a driveway mechanic. Removing your grille should help you access the oil cooler. You’ll want to have a catch pan ready before you disconnect the engine oil cooler lines. Disconnect the lines using a line wrench. Some oil will drain out. At this point, you can unbolt the cooler from the radiator support. Install the new one and connect the hoses. You will need to add engine oil to replace what was lost during the repair.

What are engine oil cooler lines and where are they located?

As mentioned, some automobiles use a dedicated engine oil cooler, usually mounted behind the grille and in front of the radiator, to take some of the heat off the oil. Oil cooler lines are rubber hoses or metal lines that carry the hot oil from the engine to the oil cooler or radiator for it to be cooled down, and then back to the oil pan so it can be pumped through the engine again. The oil cooler lines run through the engine bay to connect to the oil cooler or radiator. Vehicles without a dedicated oil cooler might have oil cooling tubes integrated into the radiator. The oil flows through its own set of tubes in the radiator and is cooled off as air passes over the radiator fins. 

How do I know if my engine oil cooler lines need to be replaced?

As you might expect, the biggest problem that oil cooler hoses face is leaking. Damage to the rubber sections, due abrasions, nicks, dry rot, cuts, etc., or to the metal sections, due to rust, corrosion, holes, etc., can cause the lines to leak oil, reducing the overall functioning of the oil cooling system, as well causing the engine to run poorly. The best way to verify that the problem is being caused by your oil cooler lines is to visually inspect them for oil leaks. 

Can I replace engine oil cooler lines myself?

Replacing your oil cooler lines is fairly straightforward, although it might take a bit of effort. This job too should be within the reach of a driveway mechanic, though. First of all, be sure to let your engine cool down before you begin. Also, have a catch pan ready for any oil that leaks out. Disconnect the oil cooler lines at each end, using a line wrench. Be prepared for fluid to flow out when you do this. Then, you can pull the hoses out. Maneuvering the lines through the engine bay might be the most challenging part of the job, particularly if you have metal lines. Once the old lines are out, you have to feed the new ones in. Then you can connect them at either end. You will need to add engine oil to replace what was lost during the repair.  

Need an engine oil cooler or oil cooler line replacement?

As you might have guessed by now, engine oil coolers and lines are key to the proper functioning of your engine. If you have a damaged oil cooler or line, you will want to get a replacement as soon as possible. Luckily, 1A Auto carries a line of aftermarket engine oil coolers and lines for many makes and models, and at great prices. They are just what you need to get your vehicle in good working order again!

We also make shopping for engine oil coolers and lines for your car, truck, or SUV easy - we're here to help you select the right parts for your vehicle! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our aftermarket engine oil cooler parts, warranty, compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online.

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