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Intercooler Fin Repair

Tricks Of The Trade

Scott Tsuneishi
Jan 18, 2013
Impp 1211 01 o intercooler fin repair HKS Photo 1/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

Intercoolers improve efficiency and power in turbo applications by rapidly radiating heat from the compressed intake charge before it enters combustion. Intercooler fins play a crucial role in the intercooler’s ability to keep your vehicle’s intake temperatures cool. Over time, the intercooler’s fins can bend or clog from road debris and rocks, causing a disruption in airflow that causes a loss in performance, not to mention becoming a real eyesore.

Impp 1211 06 o intercooler fin repair Photo 2/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

We noticed our Subaru top-mount intercooler had a fair few extra-squashed fins. Not wanting to pony up and purchasing a new core, we decided to make repairs using simple household items. We should mention there are other options to fixing those fins, which include purchasing a fin straightener, or fin rake that’s sold online. Although using a rake fin would seem the most practical in quickly straightening those damaged fins, this tool isn’t always the best item to use as we found out with our intercooler. Many aftermarket intercooler’s cores, including ones such as Greddy, don’t have long rows of straight fins. Rather, they consist of condensed short, zigzag rows that require more attention when straightening. To address this issue, we gathered up a number of items to create our own DIY kit, which included a set of tweezers (the type your girlfriend or perhaps yourself would use to pluck eyebrows), toothpicks, and a pair of screwdrivers.

Impp 1211 03 o intercooler fin repair squahsed fins Photo 3/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

Using a pair of flat-head screwdrivers and plenty of patience, methodically wedge the bent fin between both flat ends of the two screwdrivers and press together to straighten them back to their original shape.

Impp 1211 02 o intercooler fin repair flathead screwdriver Photo 4/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair
Impp 1211 05 o intercooler fin repair tweezers Photo 5/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

If the screwdriver method isn’t working out, a pair of wide-tip tweezers with a flat face is another alternative.

Impp 1211 04 o intercooler fin repair tweezers Photo 6/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

Notice after using a set of tweezers that the intercooler fins were shaped in a square pattern. Don’t worry, we have a quick fix for that as well.

Impp 1211 07 o intercooler fin repair unrounded fins Photo 7/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

We used toothpicks to contour the fins by simply pressing alongside each edge to achieve a nice rounded corner, similar to the factory design.

Impp 1211 08 o intercooler fin repair toothpick Photo 8/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair

Although the repair job proved to be tedious due to the fact that we went fin by fin, the end result was well worth our time spent as shown in the image below.

Impp 1211 09 o intercooler fin repair fixed fins Photo 9/9   |   Intercooler Fin Repair
By Scott Tsuneishi
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