Viscous Fan Clutch

Viscous fan clutches are belt driven and found on many longitudinal mounted engines. They are found on trucks and older rear wheel drive passenger cars. They contain a drive and driven plate with annular grooves that fill with a thick viscous silicon fluid.

Viscous Fan Clutch

These fans are needed at slow speeds; typically below 35 mph and at idle. This is why a faulty fan clutch will cause a vehicle to overheat at idle and in heavy traffic. This is because the fluid wears, rendering it incapable of grabbing the drive and driven plates and offer the gripping resistance needed to hold them together. If the opposite is true, and the clutch is always engaged, the vehicle will suffer from poor gas mileage and loss of horsepower. It will also make a loud whirling sound as the engine is revved.

Because these fans are driven by the crankshaft. It's important to check the drive belt for wear and glazing. A viscous fan clutch contains a thick fluid that can leak from the unit. This fluids viscosity is measured in CST or centistokes and will wear over time. Check the unit for leaks through the seams and around the shaft. They also have a thermostatic spring that must be inspected. Check it by releasing it from its seat and measuring the distance between the spring and its retainer. Always check for manufacturer’s specifications for any special procedures.