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Intercooler Vs Radiator

Intercooler Vs Radiator: Difference Between

Intercooler vs Radiator is both essential parts of any vehicle or device. Because it has almost the same effect of helping the car less overloaded, many people often confuse it and consider it the same. However, these two coolers still have specific differences. Let’s find out the difference between these two devices right in the following article!

Intercooler Vs Radiator: Structure

# Intercooler

The cooler is essentially a smaller type of Radiator with more complex construction. The intercooler is a liquid cooling system, so it will include pipes to fill with water. This type of Radiator is commonly used in vehicles with turbo or supercharged engines. However, all cars using the intercooler must come with a radiator, and the Radiator can work alone.

# Radiator

The Radiator consists of 4 main parts:

  • Pressure cap
  • Core
  • Output
  • Inlet tank

Most radiators today have a good heat conductor material, which is aluminum or copper. As the hot steam passes through the tubes from the end to the outlet, the machine creates a pressure that increases the flow pressure for cooling.

Intercooler Vs Radiator

A radiator has the effect of regulating the engine’s temperature to the environment to prevent the internal temperature from getting too high. At that time, excessive heat can cause short-circuit conditions and engine death. So, the Radiator keeps the engine stable and has the best operating environment.

How They Work

Both of them work to cool the engine. When reaching a specific temperature, the engine may explode or burn because the temperature is too high.

The intercooler and Radiator both exchange heat outside and regulate the temperature inside, keeping the engine healthy. However, there are still certain standard vs metric differences.

# Intercooler

The intercooler will reduce the compressed air temperature by conditioning it to the air to keep the engine stable. Using the intercooler will help improve the efficiency of the engine while helping to save more fuel. There are two common types of intercoolers:

Air cooler: Helps reduce the temperature of the air coming out of the turbo to prevent it from entering the engine.

Air and water cooler: Uses water to lower the compressed air temperature

Both types of intercooler work by transporting compressed air through small tubes and fins to the outside. The radiator fin does not seem to consume any fuel as it utilizes cool air from the outside air of the vehicle.

Air and water coolers are small in size, more convenient than the others. So small cars often use this cooler.

Although it has the optimal size and higher rating, the water cooler is not widely used.

# Radiator

The Radiator works by transferring the heat from the hot air emitted by the engine into the water to absorb and regulate the temperature. This system will include many pipes containing cooling liquid for faster and more efficient heat dissipation.

Some types do not use water pipes but instead with fan designs. With this design, the Radiator will blow hot air out into the air to balance the temperature.

The operation process of the Radiator is like a cycle. The liquid in the pipes will continuously work, escape and automatically replace with a new, more excellent fluid. This process will take place constantly to ensure that the engine does not overheat.

Vehicles, when used for a long time, may need an impact to upgrade this Radiator. A solute is added inside to make the process run more smoothly and ensure the water’s boiling point.


Although all have a cooling effect, each set has a different use for each specific engine type.

# Intercooler

The intercooler is available for cooling the turbo by cooling hot compressed air, which then flows to the engine. When the air in the turbo reaches a specific temperature, the cooler removes the heat by cooling it so that the air can enter the denser and colder combustion chamber.

Usually, the cooler will only be used in cars with turbo engines. This type of engine will include both the cooler and the Radiator appearing simultaneously to ensure the ability to regulate the temperature. Some fast cars with high speed also need a cooler in the engine system to dissipate heat continuously.

# Radiator

Radiators are used in most engines of popular cars today. The heatsink can work alone without depending on or needing the help of the cooler. With the cooling mechanism absorbing the heat of the engine cylinders, the Radiator will keep the system cool and at a moderate temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Intercooler and Radiator are two very confusing terms. So we have answered some of the most common questions people have regarding this topic.

What is the effect of the Radiator?

The majority of internal engine failures, not due to impact, come from excessive heat. High temperatures will cause damage and explosions inside the car engine. In other cases, high temperatures melt welds, flakes, and separate internal components.

Therefore, it can be that the Radiator is one of the essential parts of a car. A good radiator will reduce serious engine problems or overheating.

Can I use an intercooler and Radiator at the same time?

It is possible to use the intercooler and Radiator at the same time in some instances. Some vehicles are required to have both coolers simultaneously, for example, cars using turbo engines. Another vehicle will only use a radiator, and if you want to use more intercoolers will have to consider the car’s ability to install.

In case of simultaneous use, the intercooler will be a great helper of the Radiator. A simultaneous installation like this will help the heat dissipation of the engine better. However, pay attention to the installation position: the intercooler must be placed in front of the Radiator.

Is it possible to run an air cooler without a turbo?

Theoretically, the cooler should be able to work without the turbo. However, if this condition persists, it can cause restricted circulation in the engine.

The air cooler will only work to its full potential when set at the right time. The turbo pressurizes the air causing the temperature to rise. Comes with a cooler to reduce that temperature to neutralize; it helps the engine not overheat. If the turbo does not heat up and the cooler is still running, it will interfere with air intake.


By now, you should be able to tell the difference between a cooler and a radiator. Basically, each differs in how they work: air-cooled radiators; intercoolers cooled by a water system.

If you are not a professional card player, you do not need to be too knowledgeable. However, you should know the type of engine that your car is using to replace and check it when needed.

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