Defective intercooler – causes, symptoms, repair

A damaged intercooler will prevent the engine from being used to its full potential and may lead to more serious engine or turbocharger malfunctions. Therefore, every driver should be able to recognize the symptoms of a damaged intercooler and take care of its replacement or regeneration. In today’s blog post, we explain the causes of intercooler failures and the symptoms that occur in a vehicle that has such defects, as well as how you can restore it to working order.


Causes of intercooler failures

Much damage to the intercooler results directly from its location and sometimes insufficient protection of the air intake. The air cooler is located right behind the bumper in the lower part of the vehicle, therefore, for a long time of using the car, it comes into contact with various splinters from the road surface, e.g. stones or other particles. Road collisions are also a great danger for the efficient operation of the intercooler.
Then the intercooler is bruised or even punctured. This directly translates into a decrease in the efficiency of this element of the vehicle. The build-up of dirt on the intercooler channels is also not good for its performance.


Leaks in the intercooler

Leaks are also quite a common cause of a malfunctioning intercooler. They can appear on:
compressed air lines to the intake manifold;
pipe through which the air from the compressor comes to the intercooler.
Leaks in the intercooler occur as a result of its intensive work. Due to the progressive downsizing of the engines, we are dealing with a reduction in the size and capacity of the units, however, it is associated with an increase in pressure in the intercooler and increasing temperature differences between the entrance to the intercooler and the air outlet from this element.


Oil in the intercooler

Oil enters the intercooler from the blast and exhaust gases that enter the engine through the EGR. Therefore, a certain amount of oil in the intercooler should not be a concern, but if there is too much oil then it may be due to a turbocharger malfunction.

What are the symptoms of a damaged intercooler?

In the case of a leaky or oily intercooler, there are disturbances in the proper combustion of the fuel-air mixture, which in turn translate directly into the operation of the engine and turbocharger. Leaks mean that the turbocharger is not able to generate the desired pressure – it will have to perform increased work, which will expose it to faster wear.
As a result of these consequences, the following symptoms will be noticeable:

  • engine power drop,
  • jerking,
  • difficult acceleration,
  • increasing combustion,
  • increased exhaust emissions.

The increase in fuel combustion and harmful exhaust emissions results from the incorrect amount of oxygen, which is in the fuel-air mixture due to damage to the intercooler.


How does the intercooler repair work?

If you notice similar symptoms in your car, ask your mechanic to have the intercooler inspected. Detecting its faults will allow you to avoid more expensive repairs or replacement of other components that may give similar symptoms in the event of faults, but in fact remain functional, because the real cause lies in the intercooler.


The intercooler inspection begins with a visual inspection and then disassembling it to detect oil contamination.



At Accore, we deal with the regeneration of intercoolers. The regeneration treatment consists in replacing the radiator core with a completely new one and is intended to restore its original technical and operational properties. During regeneration, we use cores that are produced in the European Union and meet all standards regarding quality, durability and technical and operational parameters.
We also offer completely new intercoolers for various brands and models:
  • buses,
  • trucks,
  • agricultural machinery,
  • construction machinery,
  • locomotives,
  • industrial machines,
  • wind turbines.
We provide a 12-month warranty for each of them.

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