a dodge dakota 4.7L v8 engine with a mechanical fan installed
a dakota engine bay with the fan removed
an electric fan and a mechanical vehicle cooling fan comparison
an electric fan for a vehicle cooling system
fan control module for a vehicle engine cooling fan
retrofitting an electric fan in a dodge Dakota truck
thermostat prop for a fan switch installed in fins of a radiator
an electric accessory switch in a dodge dakota truck
electric fans in a dodge dakota truck
dodge dakota truck fording a small stream

Our Dakota has a 4.7L V8 with a serpentine front drive and not a lot of extra room under the hood. Case in point- the coolant overflow tank doubles as the upper shroud on the radiator. Make certain you let the engine and radiator cool down before starting this project.

After removing the coolant overflow tank it was relatively easy to get to the fan and clutch. They run off of the front of the water pump, so take care not to let the radiator fins act like a cheese grater across your knuckles when you are removing the bolts on the fan.

Note how the new Flex-a-lite Black Magic Extreme fan has twice as many blades as the factory fan. The blades are also S-shaped to maximize air flow and contribute to the 3300 cfm rating on the 15-inch Black Magic Extreme.

The included aluminum brackets made the installation easy. They are universal brackets so we had to drill two new holes, but otherwise they bolted right in and hold the Black Magic fan and shroud securely in place. The fan shroud has captured nuts to mount the brackets, and at the other end we drilled the holes to line up with mounting studs for the factory shroud.

The control module mounts right on the bracket on the side of the fan and was easy to wire with the included instructions. In our case we have wires going to the fan, wires to a keyed 12V source (so the fan shuts off when the engine is shut off) and a manual switch on our dash. There is also an adjustment to set the temperature when the fan kicks on.

The Black Magic fan is only 4 1/8-inch deep so we had no problem fitting it between our radiator and the water pump. The included shroud means that the fan will draw air through the radiator instead of around it, maximizing the efficiency of the cooling system.

The included temperature probe installed through the radiator fins to trigger the temperature when the fan comes on. It should be installed near the top radiator hose. The module allows you to adjust when the fan comes on, we added + and – signs to keep us from getting confused when we dial in the temperature where we want the fan to come on. With a 180 degree thermostat in the cooling system we set the fan to come on at approximately 195 degrees.

We also ordered a 10 amp illuminated rocker switch (Summit PN FLX-31148) to manually turn the fan off if we want to do so. Drag racers use this trick to cool their engines between heats but then turn the fan off to maximize horsepower, but in our case we can turn the fan off for water crossings.

After installing the upper shroud on the radiator it is difficult to tell that this is not a stock cooling system. The Black Magic fan fits perfectly and did not require us to modify any other parts. It would be easy to keep the fan for our next project and swap back to stock if we ever sell the Dakota.

The Flex-a-lite Black Magic fan pulls more air at all vehicle speeds, which is a benefit when crawling through rocky terrain. We are experiencing a drought this year, but the added dash switch gives us the ability to shut off the fan when the water gets deeper than this.

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?