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Intercooler Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an intercooler replacement is between $757 and $812. Labor costs are estimated between $206 and $261 while parts are priced at $551. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.

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What is an Intercooler?

The turbocharger or supercharger intercooler is responsible for reducing the temperature of air that has been compressed by the turbocharger or supercharger. It is typically mounted behind an opening on the front of the vehicle, or has air delivered to it via ducting. The intercooler may be large or small depending on the application, and looks very similar to a radiator.

How does an Intercooler work?

As the forced induction unit compresses air, that air is sent through charge piping which directs it through an intercooler at some point. The intercooler is needed because forced induction compressor units develop high heat, and this heat can defeat the purpose of forced induction. Reducing heat packs more air into a smaller area, so the engine can provide more power and run more efficiently. The intercooler cools the air by trapping the air inside while cool air is passed across the intercooler fins, the same way a radiator cools engine coolant.

What are the symptoms of a bad Intercooler?

Intercooler leaks will commonly cause the illumination of the check engine light and store the P0299 code. This is because the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor is reading lower pressure than it should. If the intake air temperature (IAT) sensor recognizes the air moving into the engine is at too high a temperature for normal operation and performance, this will also set the check engine light for diagnostic trouble code P0113. This could indicate a lean running condition for turbocharged vehicles, a cooling system inefficiency for all forced induction vehicles, or intercooler inefficiency.

Can I drive with a bad Intercooler?

Since intercooler failure can lead to adverse running conditions, high heat in the engine, and poor fuel mileage, it should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible. This goes doubly since the only vehicles using intercoolers are forced induction vehicles, which are both adverse and subject to high heat.

How often do Intercoolers need replacement?

Intercoolers tend not to wear out. Most of them installed on vehicles at the factory will be on the vehicle when it arrives at the salvage yard. The majority of intercooler failures will be due to high boost applications where the forced induction system has been modified, collisions, or leaks due to corrosion after many years of service. There is always the possibility of damage from road debris or a leaking end-cap, but again, this is nearer the end of the service life of the vehicle.

How are Intercooler issues diagnosed?

An intercooler suspected of failure will need to be pressure tested. Since pressure testing a force induction piping system while installed on the vehicle can result in oil being pushed into the charge pipes, the intercooler should be removed for testing. One end of the intercooler will be plugged, and the other end will receive a plug with a schrader valve. The valve, which is identical to the valve stem on a tire, will be filled with compressed air to the maximum pressure the turbocharger for that vehicle can produce. The caps sealing the ends will be checked for leaks, and the intercooler will be left to sit. If the intercooler loses pressure over time, it will be understood to have a leak, and detecting that leak will require spraying soap solution until bubbles are formed, or injecting smoke into the intercooler.

How are Intercoolers replaced?

Intercooler replacement, when replacing with a like unit, will require removal of mounting fasteners and disconnecting the intercooler piping from the ends of the intercooler. There should only be two total pipes of fairly large diameter. If the intercooler is locked in place by the front bumper, grill, or other components, those components or body panels will need to be removed prior to replacing the intercooler. Replacement of a bumper will be simplified by placing witness marks on the body panels with liquid chalk or bar soap.

RepairPal Recommendations for Intercooler issues

It is recommended to replace the seals for the intercooler piping any time the piping is removed. This is because an air leak in the intercooler piping can lead to under boost conditions which will have an adverse effect on engine performance.If replacing the intercooler for an aftermarket part, the size of the unit as well as the rate of airflow through the unit are necessary to consider. If the unit is too small in either way, the performance and efficiency are likely to be decreased.

What to look out for when dealing with Intercooler issues

Oil found in the intercooler is normal in small amounts, however, a large amount of oil found in the intercooler could indicate engine ventilation or turbocharger oil seal issues.

Can I replace the Intercooler myself?

Replacing the intercooler does not represent a challenge until body panels must be removed. Aligning the body panels may seem difficult or impossible when reinstallation occurs, but it can be done with some attention to detail and patience. If adding an intercooler to a vehicle that previously did not have one, this may be a job for a custom fabrication shop.

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