Cummins has been a powerful and commanding name in automotive engineering for more than 100 years, dominating the market with powerful machines that are revered for their durability and reliability. By carrying such prestige, when people are looking to buy a pickup, many insist on getting a Cummins or getting nothing at all. Let’s take a look at the intercoolers of a Cummins and discuss how to spot signs of failures.
The Highs and Lows of the Turbocharger
In the 1960s and 70s, turbochargers became a common feature in motor engineering. These systems dramatically increased the power of a vehicle’s engine by pumping more oxygen into the engine and allowing more fuel to be burned. Since then, diesel vehicles have grown somewhat dependent on the turbocharger to the point that they can no longer function properly without one.
Cummins vehicles offer their drivers endurance and high mileage, which the Dodge pickup offers in abundance, and with its 6.7L turbo diesel engine specifically designed and introduced halfway through 2007, the Dodge series was the first line to offer a Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT).
Turbochargers decrease the amount of lag when taking off from a stop. It makes adjustments to load demand while driving and integrates exhaust braking when coming to a stop. But while the turbocharger can improve the drive quality of your vehicle, it can also be the direct cause of a number of problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Problems
When compressing air, a lot of heat is generated very quickly, and the density of the oxygen in the air drops. Intercoolers are designed to work with turbocharged engines, taking in extra air that isn’t being compressed by the turbocharger itself and increasing the density of oxygen being fed into the engine.
There are 2 types of intercoolers referred to as “Air-to-Air,” and “Air-to-Water.” Let’s take a closer look at each one:
- Air-to-Air intercoolers work to extract heat from the compressed air by passing it through a network of tubes and cooling fins. As compressed air is pushed through the intercooler, the heat is transferred from the tubes to the cooling fins, absorbing the heat and reducing the temperature of the compressed air. These intercoolers are the most common for vehicles because they are simple, low cost, and light, but their design restricts where they have to be placed inside the vehicle. This can lead to a longer intake length of cold air into the intercooler, and because air is a poor conductor of heat, this enables more variation in heat being supplied to the engine.
- Air-to-Water intercoolers pump water through the system, extracting heat from the compressed air. It is then pumped into another cooling circuit, usually a dedicated radiator, while the now-cooled air is pumped into the engine. Air-to-Water intercoolers are smaller than their Air-to-Air counterparts, and they can handle a wider range of temperatures because water is more efficient at heat transfer. However, Air-to-Water intercoolers are less common in vehicles because they weigh more and require the installation of a dedicated radiator, pump, and transfer lines.
Air-to-Air intercoolers can and do frequently fail. This is usually due to a blockage in the airflow, such as a build-up of dried mud in front of the air intake or on the cooling fins.
Air-to-Water intercoolers rely on engine coolant, and they can get clogged with mineral deposits such as calcium, lime and rust, just like the radiator or heater core. This can lead to an efficiency drop, which will raise air in-take temperatures, causing a reduction in power.
Boost pressure usually supplied to your vehicle via the turbocharger will vent outside it instead, causing your engine to overheat. As this happens, less oxygen will be getting pumped into the engine. This will displace the air/fuel ratio and cause your engine to run extremely fuel-rich, leading to raw fuel spewing out of the exhaust pipe in a cloud of black smoke, severely drop the vehicles fuel economy as well as its performance.
Diesel Pickup Pros
If you are having problems with the intercooler in your Dodge Cummins, Diesel Pickup Pros are here to help. With locations in Floyds Knobs, Georgetown, Jeffersonville, New Albany, and Louisville KY, our friendly staff and knowledgeable mechanics are factory-trained and ASE-certified with Chrysler, Ford, and GM.
With our 24-month/24,000-mile warranty on parts and labor, we take pride in offering the most complete and comprehensive services possible, ensuring dealership-quality services to get your problem solved. Call us today to schedule an appointment or stop by to speak with our technicians.