Cool Thoughts on Electric Fan Conversions


Robin writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Back with a topic that might be real to many Texans and others of warmer climes. I’m close to 220,000 miles on my 94 Nissan D21. She’s still motoring along and I’m doing my to keep her maintained.

We’ve just come through the dog days. Back when it was hitting 112° in Dallas, I was finding myself stuck in afternoon rush hour traffic on 75 and the coolant temp was pushing upwards into a zone that definitely had my attention. Fortunately, the traffic cleared and I could get back up to speeds that moved sufficient air across the radiator.

This experience prompted research and pondering: what about an aftermarket electric fan? When stopped in traffic, it would keep up while the engine was idling at low RPMs. And how many times have I stopped briefly to run in somewhere and returned to start up and see the temperature way up there from sitting still?

So, my research has yielded data on how to go about electric fan installation. My question is, would it be a worthwhile upgrade or just “putting a wing on it?”

Sajeev answers:

I think an electric fan conversion is a great upgrade for some people … but not for you.

Looks like an Altima fan swap is doable, but will its significant electrical draw burden your stock alternator? (Compare the amperage output vs. the donor Altima) And assuming your D21 is still factory stock, why go through all this effort?

Your problem lies with a (clogged) radiator, a (leaking) fan clutch, or both. Thankfully, both are easy to replace, unlike the Altima fan swap which requires more parts and far more labor. Run your hand behind the (not running!) fan clutch. If you feel oil and dirt, it’s gotta go. Start there first. Considering the mileage, replacing both of them isn’t a bad idea anyway.

One comment

  1. Roberta Dixon

    Sajeev is right you likely just need to fix the existing system. When I was doing a lot of four wheeling I helped a friend with a old dodge and a toyota swap in electric fans for off road work. No upgrades to the alternator was needed on either one. My experience is the alternator are usually oversized enough for this but of course this varies.

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