Sometimes broken and worn out parts can be a blessing, because they give you an excuse to upgrade!
That was the situation we were in recently when the fan clutch went out on the 4.7L V8 in our Dodge Dakota. The factory mechanical fan uses a clutch unit that locks up to cool the engine but can disengage at higher speeds to improve gas mileage and free up horsepower. Those two goals can be further accomplished with an electric fan though, and it’s no coincidence that electric fans are found on most late-model vehicles.
So we swapped our mechanical fan and fan clutch for a 15-inch Flex-A-Lite Black Magic Extreme electric fan.
The Black Magic Extreme fan is packed with features like an integrated shroud, universal mounting brackets, and a probe to install in the radiator. It’s 15 inches in diameter and uses S-blades to pull 3300 cfm, so it should have no problem keeping our little V8 cool, whether we are crawling through rocks or towing a trailer to a remote campsite.
For even more options, we wired in a Flex-A-Lite toggle switch on the dash so we can manually override the temperature probe and shut off the fan if we want to. Why would we ever want to do such a thing? When traversing through deep water, the fan blades can flex and cut through the radiator, leaving you stranded on the trail. Now we never have to worry about that problem.
We are always leery of “universal” parts that don’t really fit anything, but the installation of the Flex-A-Lite Black Magic fan was very straightforward, with thorough instructions and all of the necessary parts included. We were able to complete the installation in an afternoon at home in the driveway. Flex-A-Lite offers a lot of application-specific fans and radiators too, so if you have a more common application than us, the installation will likely be even easier.
The effort was well worth it as the truck runs quieter and cooler now in all conditions. The Flex-A-Lite fan also freed up enough horsepower than we can feel the difference under acceleration, and we have noticed a very slight increase (less than 1 mpg) in fuel economy when we go to the pump. Those are all welcome improvements on a part that we needed to change anyway!
Why replace when you can upgrade?