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Cooler Repair San Diego Experts Explain Leak Causes and Fixes

Cooler Repair San Diego Experts Explain Leak Causes and Fixes

A leaky charge air cooler can cause a myriad of problems for your engine, from reduced efficiency to permanent, often expensive-to-fix damage. There are numerous ways to repair a leaking cooler, some temporary and some more permanent. But in order to know what you are signing up for, you need to be aware of some of the most popular cooler repair methods before you start looking for the best mechanic to handle your cooler repair in San Diego.

What are Charge Air Coolers?

As the name would imply, this component cools the air that goes to the engine from the turbo charger, which in turn improves performance. When this component leaks, the amount of air that enters the engine is reduced, and the gas in the engine cannot fully combust. As a result of this leak, the engine can experience power losses and requires more gallons per mile. Even worse, not attending to the leak can cause permanent damage to your engine.

What Causes the Leaks?

To fully understand how air cooler repair works, we first need an answer for the aforementioned question: what causes charge air cooler leaks? The answer most likely is metal fatigue, a localized process that causes structural damage to materials due to cyclic loading. The metal tubes and tanks inside the cooler are exposed to heat and pressure, which over time results in the material’s structure weakening. Furthermore, the material is damaged by extreme temperature changes, as the cold tubes are subjected to the hot air that comes from the turbo charger. This and the pressure causing frequent contractions result in metal fatigue. Over time, the weak points such as joints begin to leak.

How to Fix Air Cooler Leaks?

Depending on the level of damage, the most common repair method involves using either epoxy or weld patches. This process starts with determining the location of the leak by blowing air through the cooler submerged in water. When the leak is located, the mechanic will patch the area. Fixing the leak with epoxy patches has a few inherit flaws though, as the melting point for these patches is lower than aluminum, which is the most common material used to charge air coolers. This means that epoxy patch will be the first to suffer damage as it becomes softer. On the other hand, weld patches are used to fix weld joins.

Be aware that both methods are a temporary fix only, and will not keep your cooler going for too long as they don’t fix the metal fatigue. They don’t cure the disease, only patch the wounds. While the area that leaks is patched, the rest of the tubes and tanks are still susceptible to metal fatigue due to prolonged use. Even if the first leaking point is fixed, another one is likely to emerge and you need to patch that area again. Soon you will be left with a series of patchworks and a perpetuated problem that is not addressed.

Is There a More Permanent Solution?

In order to solve the problem posed by metal fatigue, mechanics often resort to re-coring the charge air cooler. Again, as the name implies, this procedure involves replacing the cooler core with a new one. The only thing you get to keep from your cooler are the tanks. This fixes the metal fatigue problem at its core, and this is why we recommend re-coring as a more permanent solution. Expert mechanics with years of experience in cooler repair in San Diego unanimously agree that re-coring is the best repair option. While it is more expensive than patching, in the long run it is definitely more cost effective. Furthermore, re-coring is cheaper than getting a brand new charge air cooler while the effect is the same. If your tanks are undamaged, this is the best and most permanent solution for your cooler leak problems.

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