An intercooler is a mechanical device that cools the intake air on engines that are fitted with turbochargers.

Such mechanisms can expose your car’s engine to excessive heat and damage it. The current article discusses the working principle of intercoolers and the different types of intercoolers.

Working Principle

Intercoolers work by compressing the air and increasing its density before it reaches the engine’s cylinders. The air is sucked in and compressed by the turbocharger, after which it passes through the intercooler before reaching the cylinder.

As the air passes through the intercooler, it is cooled which makes it oxygen-rich. Due to more oxygen in the air, it ensures better combustion in each cylinder. Better and more effective fuel combustion provides more power to the vehicle and enhances the ride quality.

Intercoolers also maintain the air to fuel ratio at safe levels in each cylinder, thereby enhancing the safety of the vehicle and the driver.


Types of Intercoolers

The different types of intercoolers are discussed below:

Air-to-Air Intercoolers

Air-to-air intercoolers pass the compressed air through a series of small tubes and past a network of cooling fins. The hot air is cooled once it passes through the cooling fins.

These cooling fins are kept cool through a fast airflow from outside the vehicle.

Once the compressed air passes through the intercooler and gets cooled, it is fed into the engine cylinders. Air-to-air intercoolers are simple, lightweight, and cost-effective that makes them a popular choice in vehicles.


Air-to-Water Intercoolers

Air-to-water intercoolers use water to cool the compressed air for ensuring better fuel combustion. The intercooler unit contains cool water that cools the compressed air when it passes through it.

The water heats up due to hot compressed air passing through it. This heated water is pumped through a radiator or cooling circuit before it reenters the unit as cool water. Air-to-water intercoolers are smaller than air-to-air intercoolers, hence, they are ideal for use in vehicles where the engine space is cramped.

Since water is a better conductor of heat than air, these intercoolers are more efficient and provide better performance. The downside of these intercoolers is that they are more complex, bulky, and costlier and thus are not very common.

Do You Need an Intercooler?

If your vehicle has a turbocharger, then you should consider getting an intercooler installed.

This will protect your engine from damages due to excessive heat.