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Used Plastic Radiator Fan

Used Plastic Radiator Fan

B.J. Kroppe and Paul Gover

Warning: Do not buy and install a used plastic radiator fan for your Series 3. Fatigue cracks are likely to be present at the hub and cause your fan to burst, as mine did.

I purchased last summer a used plastic fan blade from a breakers yard and installed it on my '82. Cost was US$60 for used vs. US$220 new. It did have some radially oriented cracks in the hub, but I used the skill of denial (perfected during my tenure as a Jaguar owner) to convince myself the cracks wouldn't be a problem.

Last Thursday I was on my way to close a deal on my new house. I was late and panicking and so floored the gas pedal of the XJ6 as I entered the freeway. I don't thrash my car but I do drive spiritedly and my car performs well under such use. At 4000rpm I heard a loud BANG. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a shower of black plastic bits trailing trailing behind me. Odd, I thinks. No smoke or noises or smells of burning. I checked all the gages and they read OK (I know they all work). Then I noticed a tire print behind me, as if I was driving through water. I got off the freeway and looked under the hood and saw the engine running happily with the fan blade loosely dangling from it hub and gallons of green blood gushing from the radiator and the bonnet insulator dripping with coolant.

The shroud was blown to bits and the radiator is gone and the fan blade went to heaven. The worst of it is the fan blade, en route to heaven, hit the bonnet HARD first and left two nasty dimples, breaking the paint and showing black primer underneath.

There are probably a few among you who will attest to your successful usage of used plastic fan blades but I say stay away from them. I now have a near $1000 repair job just because I saved $160 on a used fan blade. I plan to repair everything fairly soon but leave the hood for the paint job in a year or so.

If you fan breaks, check the viscous drive is working (ie, that you can spin the fan by hand with the engine off). If the drive seizes, the fan rotates a lot faster, and the centrifugal force on the blades increases dramatically - over time, enough to tear the blades off a steel fan!

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