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1997 Buick Skylark radiator fan weak, works sporadically

The radiator cooling fan works sporadically, sometimes it turns on but turns very slowly/weak, other times not at all. If I 'jumps tart' the fan by pushing it with my finger it starts turning, but slows down and stops. While it is turning, the air strength is very weak. At a stop light the A/C gets warm too. Is the fan's strength and speed controlled by the temperature sensor? As a test, I unplugged it and used a 12V motorcycle battery to test it and it turned very strongly and fast.

Posted by Anonymous on

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  • Dave Takeshi Jul 12, 2013

    Hello everyone,

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 12, 2013

    Hello everyone,

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 12, 2013

    Hello everyone. Thank you for your solutions so far. This is my first time asking any questions so please do not worry about getting a bad rating as I believe that what is important is all of you who took time out of your busy lives to try and help me. I appreciate it a lot, even though some of the solutions do not work. Sorry about the first 2 comments above, I pressed 'enter' to make a space and it posted my greeting before I wrote the rest of my comment. Ronny, the radiator reservoir is full. I first drained the whole system as much as I could. The radiator fluid is clean and was changed not too long ago. I've always used Dexcool so there is no corrosion or plugged passages as far as I can tell. The fluid level is not the problem. The problem is the cooling fan. It works fine sometimes, and at other times it turns so slowly that I can't feel any air blowing out the back of it. Ealier in the night I started the car and let it idle until the engine temp needle was in the middle of the gauge in the normal zone. Every few minutes the fan would kick on and it seemed to be working okay as the noise from it was much louder than last night, and it was moving a lot of air out the back, as much as when I powered it using the 12V motorcycle battery yesterday. I then drove it around on roads at 25-30 mph with the A/C on, then jumped on the freeway for a bit. I then parked it with the engine still on at a park and soon the temperature climbed a little higher than normal. The air coming out from the A/C ducts got warmer, so I knew the fan wasn't turning again. I checked it and sure enough, it was barely turning. I could stop it easily with my fingers, and when I let it go it started spinning again, but very slowly. There is only 1 large fan on this model which cools both the radiator and the A/C condenser. It has an isolated negative and is not body grounded. I tried looking for the relay in the fuse box, but could not find one. I found only a fuse for the A/C fan. Can anyone help me find the location of the temperature sensor for this year make and model car so I can test it with an Ohm meter? Also, does the system just turn the fan on and off, or does some part of the system also control fan speed? If anyone can help me with those things I'd appreciate it very much. Thank you all so far for all of your help.

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 13, 2013

    July 13, 2013 2.29am Okay, I have identified the cooling sensor. It is located next to the waterneck on the right side of the block. I also identified the relay. It's on the left side (front of car facing engine) near the firewall. There are 3 other relays on that bracket and the fan relay is #3 (left to right). It shares the same light blue wire (positive) that the plug to the fan has. I jumped it at the relay and the fan took off and blew full blast, which is a good thing. It means that the fan motor isn't the problem. But here is where it gets just too weird. When I hooked everything back up, I took it for a drive to get it up to its nomal operating temperature and parked it with the motor and A/C still on. As the temp rose, the fan kicked on and spun very slowy. I'd say 100 rpm if that. I could easily see it turning to the point I could count the revolutions. I used a piece of rubber and tried to stop it, and it gained power and rpm's. The harder I tried to stop it, the faster it turned. When I let it run on its own, it slowed and almost stopped again. So I touched it again with the rubber piece and it sped up, blasting air out the back very strongly. This might indicate that the problem is something like a termistor or a load sensor that I am not familiar with. Is anyone familiar with this kind of system. As this is probably one for the experts, if you don't really understand what I just wrote, please do not reply for the sake of replying. I do appreciate the sentiment, but I do need to get this fixed for my mom and want to keep the cost down. Times are hard all around. Thanks again everyone.

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 21, 2013

    Hello everyone,

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 21, 2013

    Hello everyone,

  • Dave Takeshi Jul 22, 2013

    Hello everyone, Okay, I located and put in a new temperature sensor. I thought it had fixed the problem as the fan blew hard when the motor was on. The fan would come on 15 seconds after the car was started and blow strongly. However, yesterday I drove it and while at a red light I noticed the temperature raise slightly, then more and the A/C air got warm again so I turned the engine off for the duration of the light and started back up when it changed to green. I was next to a freeway onramp and went on the freeway which cooled the engine down from the fast moving air. When I jumped off the freeway, it got hot again. Strangely, I tried the old 'turn the heater on' to try and help cool the engine temperature, but it did not work. The air coming out of the vents were cool. It could be a plugged heater hose problem though, and it did not help to cool the temperature. Once home, I let the engine idle and popped the hood. Sure enough, the fan was once again turning slowly. Putting resistence on the fan with the soft rubber piece again made it speed up. The more resistence, the faster it spun. Is there some kind of load sensing sensor in this system? I just checked online for any similar problems in the Buick technical service bulletins but found nothing pertaining to this problem. I also noticed that one parts company offered an auxiliary fan control unit. Where would the fan control unit on this model be located? I don't think it's the relay, as it's just a small switch turning on a big switch..



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  • Cars & Trucks Master
  • 1,746 Answers

Hi, I believe it could be a bad temp sensor. Which turns the fan on or off. Have it checked. Replace it with new one. Hope that helps you.

Posted on May 25, 2017


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SOURCE: 1994 Hyundai Excel Air conditioning RADIATOR´S FAN works always very fast

this not really a problem as the fan speed is controlled by the high preasure switch in the ac system the hotter it is outside the higher the preassure will be in the system as hot as its been the preasure is high already when the compressor cycles it pulls suction on one side and outputs high preasure on the other the fans cool the condenser the higher the ambient temp the faster they go so all is fine...

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SOURCE: 1990 jeep cherokee 6cyl inline- electric radiator fan inop.

the aux fan only works when the ac is on, and has come to a predetermined temp(?) i found this out while going up a long grade in the back country without the ac on and later found out the radiator was half plugged!

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SOURCE: 2003 Silverado ac/heat blower does not work

yes make sure all the wires are off the blower motor and jump it to give it 12 volts if the blower works the problem is else ware. get back to me if you need more help,please don't leave bad rating get back to me and we'll go from there

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SOURCE: cooling system purge info

The biggist problem is most likely the cooling system needs bleeding to purge the air out of the cooling system.To do this,the easy way,is to start this with the car cold.Remove the reservoir cap and fill it full,past the full mark.Wait to see if the coolant level drops.Then refill to the top.Replace the cap,and start the engine,and let it run up to about 218 to 220,and shut the engine off(do not turn ac on,make sure it is off).Wait about 45 minutes,and look at the reservoir level,it should have dropped.If so refill the reservoir,and repeat these steps until the cooling fans come on at about 215 or so,and they go back off by themselves.Keep check on the reservoir for a day or so to make sure that the reservoir does not drop to low,the level will finally set.If I can help,let me know.>>>

Posted on Sep 24, 2009

Testimonial: "thanks for your help! two brass screws 7mm the location of bleeders do you have any idea"

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SOURCE: 89 buick lesabre electric cooling fans

You are off to a good start by testing the fans. Get a repair manual from your nearest autoparts store. I find them invaluable. Most temperature sensors can be tested with an Ohm meter. Or short the two wires together to trigger fans. If it has only one wire then ground it to the frame/body (negative side of battery). If none of that works (with ignition on / car off) then relay is bad. Also turning on the A/C should make the fans come on. Car does not have to be running, key in on position. This would eliminate bad relays or not.

Posted on Mar 04, 2010

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