What Is Intercooler And What Are Its Different Types?

An intercooler is an essential component of a vehicle that can help the engine become highly efficient, delivering uninterrupted performance in the long term. Read more here.

By Carandbike Team


1 mins read


Published on May 11, 2022

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    An intercooler is a device that is used to compress gas in engines where it is required to cool down the hot air before it reaches out to the engine. Intercoolers are usually placed on the front end of a vehicle behind the bumpers as they require adequate space to function. Since intercoolers use the mechanism of two-stage air compression they help throw off the waste heat from the engine, which is necessary to preserve engine health. 


    How does an intercooler work?

    An intercooler works as an integral part of a turbocharged engine where turbochargers help attract more air, thereby, injecting more fuel into the engine to generate more power. However, this process reduces the density of air due to an increase in the temperature of compressed air. This is where an intercooler is used to balance out the temperature of the air. Compressed air is sent to the intercooler from the turbocharger. This is where the temperature of compressed air finally decreases to maintain the performance of the engine.

    Types of Intercoolers:

    Essentially, there are two types of intercoolers - air-to-air intercooler and air-to-liquid intercooler.

    1. Air-to-air intercoolers

    Air-to-air intercoolers are generally mounted in the front of the engine bay for getting a hold of air coming from outside. These intercoolers have very specific core designs. The two main types include tube-and-fin, as well as bar-and-plate.

    As far as pros and cons are concerned, air-to-air intercoolers are cheaper than air-to-water intercoolers and weigh less because of their simpler design.

     One of the limitations to this type of intercooler is that they have to be mounted on the front end of the vehicle which leads to wider variations in temperature. This can cause the engine to respond differently as there has to be piping to connect all the components leading to the engine, which delays the process of air intake from the turbocharger.


    Air-to-liquid intercoolers

    These intercoolers are also known to majority of people as air-to-water intercoolers or charge air coolers. These are the most efficient intercoolers usually used in high-performance vehicles. Their design is more complex as compared to air-to-air intercoolers with an integrated hydraulic system and additional heat exchangers mounted on the front bay. This concept introduced the mechanism of coolant, pump, and reservoir.

    Air-to-liquid intercoolers are smaller in size and are easily installed for smaller engine bays where space is limited. Thereby, resolving the issue of longer intake. The best part is that they can handle a variety of temperatures.

    The only drawback is that they are more expensive and heavier than the air-to-air intercoolers. An air-to-liquid intercooler doesn't have to be mounted in the front. Instead it can be mounted on other areas as long as there is proper airflow to the radiator.


    Choose the best intercooler for your requirement by carefully weighing the pros and cons of each type.

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