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1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should


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flipstyle
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Apr 8, 2022, 4:31 PM

Post #1 of 42 (773 views)
  post locked   1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Only thing I know for sure is that the cooling fan relay is good and both fans are receiving power, as they both intermittently turn on at full speed. Car is having overheating issues as a resultant, as previously the temp gauge never went over the quarter mark no matter what. Now, after about 30 minutes of driving, I'm encroaching near the 3/4ths mark.

Neither fan turns on when the AC is activated (thus AC doesn't work and only blows luke warm air).

Both fans turn on full blast after driving for awhile and the engine is turned off (which should happen). But this only happens some times and not others (erratic).

I've never once seen either fan operate independently of each other, which shouldn't be the case. When they work, they only operate concurrently.


I did an interesting test. I took off the radiator cap and let the car run stationary for awhile and get up to operating temp. I noticed that the coolant levels would raise to near the top (on the verge of spilling) every 5 minutes or so. Right when this happened, both fans would turn on full speed and the coolant level would drop back down. However, the fans would only stay on for about 5 seconds, then turn off again.

This cycle would repeat infinitely for as long as I performed this test (nearly an hour). Temp range stayed normal. But I'm guessing this is because the car is at rest and the engine really wasn't being worked.

To mentioned, I was getting a check engine light a month ago, and the obd2 reader stated a coolant sensor temp malfunction. I replaced it with a new unit, and the code went away so I'm suspecting that's no longer the culprit.

Any ideas here?

I'm thinking perhaps the fan switch, but open to any other suggestions. The fact that neither fan engages when the AC is turned on confuses me.

Thanks for the insight!


(This post was edited by flipstyle on Apr 8, 2022, 4:32 PM)


Hammer Time
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Apr 8, 2022, 4:49 PM

Post #2 of 42 (769 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

This is an unusual wiring circuit. It has 2 fans switches, 2 fan relays and 1 fan control module.

The fans can be activated by either of the switches or the engine module. What you need is a bidirectional, professional scan tool so you can both read the engine temp and status of the switches and relays. You should also be able to trigger the fans/relays from the scan tool for testing. I'm afraid it's going to take a mechanic with a lot of electrical knowledge to resolve this for you.



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flipstyle
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Apr 8, 2022, 7:56 PM

Post #3 of 42 (754 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  


In Reply To
This is an unusual wiring circuit. It has 2 fans switches, 2 fan relays and 1 fan control module.

The fans can be activated by either of the switches or the engine module. What you need is a bidirectional, professional scan tool so you can both read the engine temp and status of the switches and relays. You should also be able to trigger the fans/relays from the scan tool for testing. I'm afraid it's going to take a mechanic with a lot of electrical knowledge to resolve this for you.


Thanks for the reply Hammer!

Wow, I was unaware there are actually 2 fan switches. Are you looking at a chilton's manual or something? I know there is exactly 1 cooling fan relay (under the hood), but I'm guessing the AC fan has a separate one located elsewhere (perhaps behind the glovebox?).

I do not suspect the relays are the issue, as the fans do turn on and have power, but just function incorrectly and not as they should. My inkling says fan switch(es), but if there's 2, then I have no clue where the other one is located. The only one I can see is the one on the passenger side directly next to the fan (passenger fan is the AC fan, I think).


In Reply To


Hammer Time
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Apr 8, 2022, 8:04 PM

Post #4 of 42 (751 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

I have a professional subscription service to Alldata.

The relays are both in the engine compartment in relay boxes.



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(This post was edited by Hammer Time on Apr 8, 2022, 8:06 PM)


Tom Greenleaf
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Apr 9, 2022, 2:47 AM

Post #5 of 42 (720 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Flipstyle: Notes on this.
WARNING about taking radiator cap (pressure caps) off and looking inside with a running engine or recently run! OMG that could blast coolant or steam hot vapor right at you!
In that you did and watched it drop and rise if this is the pressure cap it should always be full to spilling there not that up and down stuff. That's for recovery tanks.
Air above isn't a good sign you said you already overheated sensors don't react well to vapor vs liquid ripe for wrong info sent either way or late/slow.
IMO this problem is why there's vapor in the cooling system to be found out why not a good sign so far,


T



Hammer Time
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Apr 9, 2022, 4:44 AM

Post #6 of 42 (713 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

To add to the radiator cap warnings. This is a bad thing to do because it will cause the car to overheat. As you learned in elementary school, water will boil at a lower temp when not under pressure. The pressure raises the boiling point. Since most fans aren't even programmed to come on under 200 degrees, you are causing it to boil by having the cap off.



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flipstyle
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Apr 10, 2022, 8:01 PM

Post #7 of 42 (603 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  


In Reply To
I have a professional subscription service to Alldata.

The relays are both in the engine compartment in relay boxes.


Ah thanks. I have no clue what I'm overlooking then. Maybe the actual AC relay box.


flipstyle
User

Apr 10, 2022, 8:04 PM

Post #8 of 42 (602 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  


In Reply To
Flipstyle: Notes on this.
WARNING about taking radiator cap (pressure caps) off and looking inside with a running engine or recently run! OMG that could blast coolant or steam hot vapor right at you!
In that you did and watched it drop and rise if this is the pressure cap it should always be full to spilling there not that up and down stuff. That's for recovery tanks.
Air above isn't a good sign you said you already overheated sensors don't react well to vapor vs liquid ripe for wrong info sent either way or late/slow.
IMO this problem is why there's vapor in the cooling system to be found out why not a good sign so far,


T


I was wearing eye and face protection, but dually noted.

I did intentionally leave out other information (mainly because I don't think it's pertinent). But I believe I have a blown headgasket. I'm just trying a last ditch effort (will be trying K-seal) to save the motor before looking either junking or doing a motor swap. I suspect the malfunctioning fans were a primary catalyst on why the engine overheated in the first place. I'm just still trying to figure out why they don't function properly, which is an issue that has to be addressed regardless.


(This post was edited by flipstyle on Apr 10, 2022, 8:09 PM)


Tom Greenleaf
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Apr 11, 2022, 12:40 AM

Post #9 of 42 (581 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Are fans the cause or now the result - IDK but it does seem a lot like a head gasket issue.

Again - sensors don't read vapor vs liquids well or the right way. They may be late, too late to prove that now so just try all tests for head gasket I don't like sealers or up to you think it may screw up diagnosis if you want to keep this car at all also always your call.

If any good overall it would be worth fixing up you'd know that best price out what it would take if a whole engine was in the cards?
***************
Note on annoying warnings! IDK what everyone understands on properties of water changing state to steam if only that? Please take a step back that STEAM powered railroad trains with insane loads not just hot but powerful. You said you looked down and watched it rise and lower? Nuff said.

That alone was all the info needed finding it low at all it's supposed to be spiling full all the time hot cold and in between.

Your call on sealer I say will make it harder to pin down just what this will need to fix up or give up the damage is done whatever caused it,

Tom



flipstyle
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Apr 11, 2022, 1:36 AM

Post #10 of 42 (575 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  


In Reply To
Are fans the cause or now the result - IDK but it does seem a lot like a head gasket issue.

Again - sensors don't read vapor vs liquids well or the right way. They may be late, too late to prove that now so just try all tests for head gasket I don't like sealers or up to you think it may screw up diagnosis if you want to keep this car at all also always your call.

If any good overall it would be worth fixing up you'd know that best price out what it would take if a whole engine was in the cards?
***************
Note on annoying warnings! IDK what everyone understands on properties of water changing state to steam if only that? Please take a step back that STEAM powered railroad trains with insane loads not just hot but powerful. You said you looked down and watched it rise and lower? Nuff said.

That alone was all the info needed finding it low at all it's supposed to be spiling full all the time hot cold and in between.

Your call on sealer I say will make it harder to pin down just what this will need to fix up or give up the damage is done whatever caused it,

Tom


I'm 99 percent sure fans were the cause. In retrospect, it seems fan failure isn't exactly so uncommon for acuras/hondas this age. Since I believe this is the OEM radiator/fans from new in '97.


Regarding my strategy now: well, it's a 1997 vehicle that's worth MAYBE $3,000 if it were in tip top cosmetic and running shape, which it is not. At this point I'm just trying to do anything I can to keep it running for a few more months or hopefully a year before most likely parting out. Non-running or in current condition, I doubt I could get more than $500 in scrap.

Plus, I can source good replacement motors for this car at local scrapyards for between 600-700 dollars. If this were a 2018 BMW, perhaps I'd feel different about my approach.

So I don't mind at least trying sealer as a last ditch effort, as the engine is most likely done for either way. There's already traces of white smoke coming out of the tail pipe. It's definitely at least the head gasket, if not cracks in the block.

But again....that's not the point of this thread. I'm trying to find out what I can do to pinpoint the cause of the fans malfunctioning. At worst, they should be activating when the Ac is activated. But that's not the case.


(This post was edited by flipstyle on Apr 11, 2022, 1:38 AM)


Tom Greenleaf
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Apr 11, 2022, 3:53 AM

Post #11 of 42 (562 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

OK, if you just want to find out why or where don't use the sealer. I already said you'd screw up more info.
Now admitted evidence out tailpipe this is about sure with low coolant found and that enough for me.

Why on the fans may not be so easy to know if the cause I'd sooner guess late coolant changes or not at all plus plain 25 years on this thing enough. Every wire, sensor and thing that moves has endured that + whatever miles the thing has on it.

I personally if this was clean, garaged rather deal with this vintage than newer or new be stopped by a dang computer control that goes out.

So find the leak test wires and relays for fans why maybe test the sensors that trigger them to work. A/C should and doesn't the other should be return coolant temp (about any vehicle with electric fans)

*Test to include pressure testing cooling system and taking plugs out, inspect those too will tell the story one (probably) will be different - it's there to focus on.

> Now if you just want to fake to buy some time do what you want with sealers can work just don't count on it at all it isn't going to seal out combustion pressures to cooling system,

Tom


Hammer Time
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Apr 11, 2022, 8:01 AM

Post #12 of 42 (548 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  





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Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 4:48 PM

Post #13 of 42 (535 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

It may have been asked, didn't see it so I wanted to jump in here.
You already have the 2 best expert a/c techs that i know of on the case so no need for me
But you mentioned your confused as to why the Fans don't turn on when the A/C is "activated"
Is the A/C actually engaging, by that i mean the Compressor clutch. If it isn't, fans will not come on. They will turn on when the compressor Clutch engages ,Not because the dash switch is turned to A/C
There may be no problem with how they operate. check to see of the clutch engages, if not, have someone add/recharge the refrigerant and then see if they come on . You maybe going down a rabbit hole chasing a problem that's not there


Hammer Time
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Apr 11, 2022, 5:00 PM

Post #14 of 42 (528 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Good point Jim.

Another thing I noticed is that the fan switches seem to trigger at different temps so it's possible it is a 2 speed fan controlled by the module with one speed burnt out. I couldn't find any confirmation on it working that way but I did confirm the different temps of the sensors.



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Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 5:13 PM

Post #15 of 42 (524 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Yeah , good point also
If the clutch is engaging, something to look into for sure.

Seems it probably just has a blown headgasket as OP suspects
Probably time for an engine if he's been overheating this thing


Hammer Time
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Apr 11, 2022, 5:16 PM

Post #16 of 42 (522 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

I don't get the impression he cooked it. It sounds like it's just running hotter than usual and if it was missing low speed fan, that's what he would get.



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Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 5:20 PM

Post #17 of 42 (518 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

True, Just basing it on what the customers usually don't tell you.
You what I'm saying.


Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 5:21 PM

Post #18 of 42 (514 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

I was mainly answering his question about why fans don't come on with A/C selected.
Didn't see any mention that confirmed clutch was engaging.


Hammer Time
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Apr 11, 2022, 6:06 PM

Post #19 of 42 (508 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

You're right. He also mentioned that it's been running hotter than normal. He should be able to tell us if the AC is working or not soon.



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Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 6:53 PM

Post #20 of 42 (498 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

You're right he did
But I kind of question that as well.
He stated

Quote
as previously the temp gauge never went over the quarter mark no matter what.


Makes me think it was running too cool, possibly because he also stated



Quote
I was getting a check engine light a month ago, and the obd2 reader stated a coolant sensor temp malfunction. I replaced it with a new unit, and the code went away so I'm suspecting that's no longer the culprit.


Maybe a P0128 ?? Guessing....
Wait and see if he can clarify things.


Hammer Time
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Apr 11, 2022, 6:57 PM

Post #21 of 42 (495 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Maybe but one of the fan switches has a 196 deg trigger so it would appear kinda cool.



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Double J
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Apr 11, 2022, 7:01 PM

Post #22 of 42 (489 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Ok Didn't know it triggered so low.


flipstyle
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Apr 12, 2022, 6:21 AM

Post #23 of 42 (472 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

Hammer - Thanks so much for the diagram! REALLY helps since I was completely unaware there were more relays located under the fuse box in the hood, as well as a fan control module behind the glovebox. Some secretive stuff.

Didn't get a chance to work on the car over the weekend, as it began snowing out of nowhere. Pacific northwest for ya....

Regarding the AC fan operation...great point about the AC clutch engaging/not engaging. The AC clutch is definitely not engaging and has been blowing mildly warm air for months. It had been working flawlessly and blowing ice cold since as long as I've remembered. But somewhere along the line it stopped, but due to my location (only 2 hot months out the year) and seldomly driving the vehicle these days, it's only been within the last year that I've noticed it doesn't work.

This MAY have coincided with a project I had to do to replace the heater core which is located behind the dash. So I had to completely disassemble the dash and unplug/replug more harnesses than I could remember. It may be possible that along the way I forgot to plug something in AC related. I doubt it, but perhaps...

I need to check the AC relay under the hood and do a voltage test there to see if any power is getting to it.

I tried filling the system with refrigerant, but could not even get the pressure meter to get a reading (0psi) to fill it, so there's something going on there....

To my knowledge, the fans on this car are indeed dual speed. But all I'm witnessing since these recent problems arose is them blowing at full blast, both simultaneosly, and both operating no more than a few seconds at a time.

At this point, the AC stuff is a secondary issue, I'm more concerned with the fans' proper operation to keep the radiator and coolant...cool.

I 'heard' you can trick the fans into coming on manually by jumping the 2 pins in the socket that go into the coolant temperature sensor. Is there truth to this? I did replace my old defective coolant sensor with a brand new one. Can't see how it would already be bad after less than 100 miles, but perhaps it's worth a shot?


Thanks again all!!


(This post was edited by flipstyle on Apr 12, 2022, 6:30 AM)


Hammer Time
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Apr 12, 2022, 6:37 AM

Post #24 of 42 (463 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  

OK, a few corrections here......

OK, AC not working so don't worry about fan operation with AC for the time being. That's a separate problem.


Quote
I tried filling the system with refrigerant, but could not even get the pressure meter to get a reading (0psi) to fill it, so there's something going on there...

Stop that right there. You can do more damage than good. You can't charge it without the system running any way.


Quote
I need to check the AC relay under the hood and do a voltage test there to see if any power is getting to it.


Unless you completely understand the circuit don't bother. Another situation where you could do more damage than good. Both relay's are connected to a sensitive module that can be fried easily. It's grounds thatcontrol the relay anyway.

It's definitely sounding like you have lost the low speed of the fan. This could be caused by either fan switch "A" or the control module. Wiring between them is always a possibility.

As for tricking the relays, you aren't tricking the relays, you are bypassing them and if you jump the wrong terminals in the socket you will instantly fry the module.



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flipstyle
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Apr 13, 2022, 2:48 AM

Post #25 of 42 (434 views)
  post locked   Re: 1997 Acura CL 3.0 : AC / Radiator fans not functioning as they should  


In Reply To
OK, a few corrections here......

OK, AC not working so don't worry about fan operation with AC for the time being. That's a separate problem.


Quote
I tried filling the system with refrigerant, but could not even get the pressure meter to get a reading (0psi) to fill it, so there's something going on there...

Stop that right there. You can do more damage than good. You can't charge it without the system running any way.


Quote
I need to check the AC relay under the hood and do a voltage test there to see if any power is getting to it.


Unless you completely understand the circuit don't bother. Another situation where you could do more damage than good. Both relay's are connected to a sensitive module that can be fried easily. It's grounds thatcontrol the relay anyway.

It's definitely sounding like you have lost the low speed of the fan. This could be caused by either fan switch "A" or the control module. Wiring between them is always a possibility.

As for tricking the relays, you aren't tricking the relays, you are bypassing them and if you jump the wrong terminals in the socket you will instantly fry the module.[/reply]


Will do a check on the fan switch when the weather permits later this week. Thanks again. I'll also try testing the AC relay itself (after removing).

Question....is there a fan controller/sensor on the bottom of the radiator? And is there a second fan switch anywhere? I only see one fan switch on the passenger side.






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