How to Choose an Ideal Intercooler

Machines and gadgets have made our lives easy but one must understand they are subject to wear and tear and needs to be mended or replaced at some point of time. None can go on running till infinity. One such thing is the intercooler.
Basically an intercooler is nothing but an apparatus for cooling the gas subsequently over a series of successive compressions. This is an integral part in a car’s engine. Practically heat exchange takes place in many parts of the car’s engine and a nice intercooler can cool the fluid or gas during a multistage heating process. Hence, if you are looking to buy an intercooler, it is essential that you get to know certain things before actually possessing one. It is common sense that such elaborate automotive and mechanical engineering cannot be fully understood by us but there is certainly a lot we can do before buying.

Things that need to be considered for choose an Ideal Intercooler
The primary thing that needs to be looked at is the flow capacity and efficiency. Price is also an important factor while buying. The flow can be easily checked by having a look at the airflow in both the directions through the core. This is probably the easiest check that can be done if one is looking forward to install such a unit in his vehicle.
Efficiency is quite difficult to predict without on the car testing. However one can have a look at the ratings provided by the manufacturer which may give an idea about the volume of heat exchange core and the solo of weight of the intercooler without any connections at all. The volume can give you an idea about the extent or amount of contact the hot air has with the cooling air. On the other hand the solo mass of the intercooler reveals the thermal mass of the material where heat air and charge can be transferred to. If your car travels a lot, without frequent traffic intervals, it is advisable to buy the one with greater mass since greater mass means greater heat-sinking ability.
However, mass is directly related with size and hence there can be size constraints depending upon the size of the engine bay. An alternative can be using water-to-air intercooler in such cases where there is not a little space available for an adequate flow. In this regard, one must also know that a small sized core can limit the potential of the turbo by trapping the charge air in it and not allowing it a path to flow.
If you are using water to air intercooler then the first and foremost thing that you should make a note of the water level frequently. In extreme cold weather when temperature goes beyond zero, antifreeze may be required. Since the water there may freeze completely it cannot function efficiently.
Last thing is maintenance and operational costs. One must ensure that these are minimal as far as possible since such things are nothing but an unnecessary burden on the owner. The water to air intercooler requires very less maintenance. Only those regular checks at the hoses and clamps are sufficient. A slight leakage in such type of an intercooler may be very woeful.
Selecting an intercooler is never an easy thing unless you get to know these things nicely. One never boasts of such nice technical knowledge and hence an expert opinion must be sought after. A poor decision taken may lead to terrible woes and besides you another one may suffer tremendously. That is none other than your lovely asset-the car. So make a smart move and the rest is a permanent satisfaction.

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Antonie Rizzotti is a mechanical engineer by profession and DIY enthusiast. When he has the leisure time like to blog about cars, home improvement and power tools. To check his latest reviews on tools you can visit

All Comments

  • Thank you for sharing this article, I didn’t know what the use of intercoolers was before I read this article. I think that I would not be able to test whether I would need one or not (women are terrible at this) so I think that professional help would be best in my case.
    there are a few places I can go to in my area but I’m not sure would like your opinion, please.
    found them on the internet…do you think they can help?

    Pearl Dec 7, 2015 8:17 pm Reply

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