If you have a high-performance vehicle or a heavy-duty truck, then you will need to look after a variety of engine components if you're going to keep things on track. You need to make it as easy as possible for the vehicle to reach its performance goals and, in turn, have to ensure that the turbocharger is always efficient. Yet many people in your situation may pay too much attention to the internal workings of the turbo, and very little attention to the intercooler or charge air cooler. What can go wrong with this seemingly simple part of the equation, and what should you do?
Cooler in Action
A charge air cooler does pretty much what it says on the tin. It gathers the warm air generated during the compression phase and will divert it from the turbo to a special radiator fitted on the front of the vehicle. The air will then be cooled down as outside air runs quickly over the surface of the radiator. Only then will the pressurised, cooled air be delivered to the engine intake to maximise performance.
In an ideal world, this entire system would rely on heavy-duty and static parts. Unfortunately, the system will also need to deal with high levels of vibration caused by both engine operation and the mobility of the vehicle, and flexible hoses are often used instead. These can begin to deteriorate as time goes by and as they're subject to high temperatures, moisture and other road conditions.
Sometimes, the hose will begin to crack, and tiny pinholes may appear. The compressed air will then escape, and this will lead to a significant deterioration in performance.
Invisible to the Eye
Of course, you may not be able to see any leaks with the naked eye, and as this is air and not oil or water, there will be no evidence. However, if you find that you are using a lot more fuel, then this could be a sign of issues with the volume of air in the combustion chamber caused by this leak.
As you can see, you will need to look out for performance issues and should suspect a charge air cooler leak. In this case, you will need to book the vehicle in for a service, so a technician can introduce equipment that can automatically check for the leak.
If you service the vehicle in accordance with recommendations, then hoses, connectors and radiators will be checked. This will help your charge air cooler to work perfectly and without any problems.