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Intercoolers VS Radiators: What’s More Efficient? 

Intercoolers VS Radiators: What’s More Efficient? 

The atmosphere is heated by every mechanical and physical operation. Because of the frictional forces between the components, the engine may generate a lot of heat while it’s running.

When a motor or engine is heated above its operating temperature, its efficiency declines, and the condition becomes unsuitable for engine operation.

When an engine overheats, it can cause a variety of problems, including accidents. Scientists have worked hard since the development of engines to achieve the objective of keeping the engine cool and tranquil.

Varied engines are installed in automobiles with different power generating capacities, therefore an overworked engine needs more effective cooling systems. The engine may be kept cool in a variety of ways, some of which will be explored in this article.

Radiator? Intercooler? What’s the distinction between the two?

A radiator transfers thermal energy by the use of liquid. Its general purpose is for cooling and heating. An intercooler, on the other hand, is a device used to lower the temperature of fluids, usually gas after compression.

If you’re still perplexed by how these two vary from one another, let’s drop all the questions you might be wondering about radiators and intercoolers. 

Let’s get started!

What is the function of a Radiator?

The thermal energy between the two media is exchanged via radiators.

A radiator

In basic terms, a radiator ensures that the engine’s heat is continually transferred to another medium. This allows the engine to remain quiet and perform in the best possible setting.

What is the mechanism of a Radiator?

A radiator

A radiator’s operation is relatively straightforward. In the pipes that propagate into a medium that must be cooled, a fluid, usually liquid, is employed. The heat of the medium is transmitted to the liquid in pipes, causing the medium’s temperature to drop.

A radiator is made up of numerous of these pipes, each of which contains liquid and spreads it into a hotter medium. The work of a radiator is efficient. The liquid in its pipes is constantly drained and replenished with a fresh, colder liquid.

The engine does not overheat because of the constant flow of liquid via the pipes. In most cases, a solute is added to the liquid just to raise the boiling point.

What makes your Radiator so important?

Because it is the principal conduit via which an engine discharges heat from your car, the radiator is an important component in an engine system. 

A faulty radiator might result in serious engine difficulties as a result of the engine overheating.

A defective radiator is usually caused by physical damage, and one of the most common signs is a smoky exhaust.

What is the purpose of an Intercooler?

An intercooler

The term “intercooler” refers to a device that lowers the temperature of any fluid. It’s commonly seen in turbocharged or supercharged engines. It is, in essence, a form of the radiator.

Its operation is straightforward. It lowers the temperature of compressed air while increasing its density, allowing an engine to breathe in the most quantity of air possible.

In essence, an intercooler is utilized to increase the engine’s power output. The intercooler is divided into two categories.

Air-to-Air Intercooler

It reduces the temperature of compressed air by using air. 

To allow the engine to utilize the most quantity of air, the temperature of the air after it exits the turbo must be reduced before it enters the engine.

Air to air intercoolers are only as effective as the ambient airflow (outside air temperature). The location of these sorts of intercoolers is consequently critical to their efficiency.

Let me walk you through its advantages and drawbacks. 


  • It works without the need for electricity and is thus simple to set up.
  • There are no liquids required for operation, hence there are no dangers of leakage.
  • Heat-soak isn’t an issue as long as the intercooler is getting enough airflow.


  • The efficiency of a system is only as good as the temperature of the surrounding air.
  • The quantity of airflow the intercooler sees determines its efficiency.
  •  It can’t be installed anyplace since it needs to be at a place where it can sense airflow.

Water to Air Intercooler

It cools the compressed air before it enters the engine with water. This is quite similar to how a radiator works.

The heat from your charge pipes is transmitted to the water by pumping water through the intercooler. This sort of setup may be put anywhere and only has to be connected to a water supply. This form of intercooler necessitates the usage of a water pump, a reservoir, and a heat exchanger for the water, all of which must be located somewhere with sufficient airflow.

Here’s a quick overview of its pros and cons. 


  •  Because of the high efficiency, the intercooler may be smaller.
  •  Using ice or other substances to generate ordinarily unrealistic temperatures for short periods might increase efficiency.
  • It can be installed at any point along the charge pipeline.


  • To work, it needs a slew of other equipment.
  • Because it is more complicated, there are more opportunities for difficulties, such as leakage.
  • When utilized for lengthy periods of vigorous driving, it might become heat-drenched and inefficient.

Intercoolers vs. Radiator: Which is more efficient? 

Let’s delve into the brief distinction between these two. Check out this table to have a better understanding and reference. 


The intercooler cools the compressed air in the forced induction system, increasing oxygen density.

The radiator cools the coolant, keeping it at the optimum working temperature.

Air-to-air intercoolers are the most common, whereas liquid-to-air intercoolers are only seen in high-end automobiles.

Radiators are a type of heat exchanger that allows heat to be transferred from water to air.

Intercoolers are only found in cars that use forced induction, such as turbocharged vehicles.

On every car, there is a radiator.
Intercooler vs. Radiator

If you want more explanation about these two, then check this video out:

This video explains briefly how engine cools and how important radiator and intercooler in the process.

Is it possible to use a Radiator as an Intercooler?

Yes, you certainly can. The air exiting the turbo is cooled before entering the engine via the intercooler.

Only the radiator is utilized in non-turbo automobiles. Although the function of the intercooler is identical to that of the radiator, which is to keep the medium cold. We might even claim that an intercooler is a form of a radiator, but the distinction is that intercoolers aren’t found in most engines.

Is it necessary to have a Radiator if you have an Intercooler?

Intercoolers are only for turbocharged engines.

Only the radiator is utilized in non-turbo automobiles. Although the function of the intercooler is identical to that of the radiator, which is to keep the medium cold. We might even claim that an intercooler is a form of a radiator, with the exception that intercoolers are not found in most engines.

Is it true that an Intercooler boosts Horsepower?

Yes, the intercooler boosts horsepower by compressing air as it enters the intake manifold, resulting in a greater air-to-fuel ratio in the cylinders. As a result, the power output is increased.

An intercooler

When calculating how much horsepower an intercooler contributes to your engine’s total output, many things must be considered.

These considerations include the piping and construction of the intercooler, the kind and size of the intercooler, and even the intercooler’s location in your engine compartment.

Is it true that an Intercooler boosts MPG?

The intercooler does not enhance MPG on its own.

When you have a good intercooler in your engine compartment, it should boost the power and efficiency of your engine.

Final Thoughts

So that’s it, folksㅡthat’s all you need to know about the differences between a radiator and an intercooler.

It isn’t difficult in the least, as you can see. It is critical that you obtain accurate information, particularly concerning your automobiles, because you do not want to wind up destroying your most valuable vehicle due to misunderstandings. That’s quite infuriating.

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