An oil cooler is not present in all vehicles, and is generally only found in long haul vehicles and high performance cars and motorcycles. However, for those vehicles in which it is present, it is an essential part of the mechanics, keeping the engine running efficiently and smoothly. If the device begins to fail, the vehicle’s performance will degrade over time, and if it fails completely it can cause the engine to overheat and be damaged. It is best to treat oil cooler failure early to avoid this potential damage.
Oil coolers wear down and degrade over time, but generally have a long lifespan. The most common failures are seals that develop leaks, but these are relatively cheap to fix, though they do require a certain level of mechanical know-how. Common and noticeable symptoms of failure are reduced performance, reduced top speed, black smoke, and the engine running hotter than normal. Unfortunately these symptoms are also easily produced by other problems in the vehicle, so the best way to confirm that the oil cooler is in fact the culprit is to have it inspected.
Having oil coolers repaired or reconditioned can vary in cost, but the simple replacement of a seal will not break the bank. However, if the entire device needs to be replaced it can be a costly affair, which is why it is best to repair an oil cooler before small problems develop into much bigger ones. The help of a professional mechanic will likely be required for the average motorist to implement repairs, since the dismantling of an oil filter is not a simple task. If the cooler needs to be replaced, be sure to confirm that standard repairs and seal replacements will not fix the issue.