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Intercooler Heat Soak: What Is It & How to Prevent (Explained)

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  • 3 min read

Last Updated on: 7th September 2023, 12:41 am

Intercooler heat soak is a condition that occurs under high load, high ambient temperatures, or insufficient intercooler size or quality. It causes the intake air temperature to increase.

High intake air temperatures can cause a reduction in power, this is due to reduced oxygen concentration in the intake air, reducing air content in the combustion chamber, reducing the power potential.

Other problems that can occur are a reduction in overall efficiency, and possibly knocking or detonation occurring. Knocking and detonation can cause engine damage.

In this article, we’ll discuss what intercooler heat soak is and why its bad, as well as how to prevent heat soak.


How to Prevent Intercooler Heat Soak

Preventing heat soak can be done in various ways, such as the following.

1. Driving Accordingly

What this means is driving according to the weather and ambient conditions, for example if its raining, windy, or it is colder, there will be less heat soak.

If it is hot, dry, and not windy, there will be an increase in heat soak.

You can plan around this, if it’s not ideal weather, driving hard may not be a good idea.

2. Increasing Air Flow

Increasing air flow to the intercooler may be a good idea.

You can do this by way of adding vents, moving intercooler placement (such as from a top-mount to a front-mount), or even changing trim to allow air flow (such as open grills).

3. Fitting a Larger Intercooler

Installing a larger intercooler is one of the most effective ways to prevent heat soak.

It has multiple advantages; increases surface area, increases volume, both of these increases the amount of heat removed from the charge air within the intercooler.

4. Using a Higher Quality Intercooler

Another way is to upgrade to a higher quality intercooler.

Intercoolers come in multiple types, such as intercoolers with a higher density of offset internal fins, cast flow-optimised end tanks, etc.

Some variants of intercooler design are more effective than others at cooling charged intake air.

5. Installing Intercooler Water Spray

Intercooler water spray is an effective modification that allows you to spray a mist of water over the intercooler, increasing heat transfer to the ambient air.

This is even able to reduce intake air temperature to ambient temperature, making it highly effective for short-term use.

The Optimal Intercooler

An optimal intercooler for preventing heat soak would have the flowing qualities.

  • Front-mounted
  • Bar and plate
  • Cast and flow-optimised end tanks
  • High-density internal fins & low-density external fins
  • Offset-style internal fins & straight louvered-style external fins
  • Powder-coated
  • Andy Lewin

    Andy Lewin is a senior mechanic, ASE qualified master technician, and an experienced automotive engineer.He's passionate about serving the automotive community with the highest-quality and trustworthy information on all things automotive. He loves to write about car repairs, maintenance, car modifications and tuning, faults, and much more.

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