Unique to turbocharged vehicles, intercoolers are devices that serve the purpose of cooling down the engine. Turbocharged engines heat up easily, owing to the myriad of heat-intensive processes that take place inside. One such example is the BMW F Series, a vehicle model that has 248 horsepower, therefore requiring an intensive cooling system.
For this purpose, the vehicle uses a front mount intercooler. As the name suggests, these are intercoolers that are attached to the front of the vehicle. However, there are a few types of front mount intercoolers, and knowing each one is essential for finding the right one for your vehicle. In this article, Turborevs features all the types of front mount intercoolers for the BMW F Series.
What is a Front Mount Intercooler?
Before delving into the types, it is essential to first understand what these devices entail and how they function. Front mount intercoolers are simply a type of intercoolers, and as the name suggests, these intercoolers are attached to the front of the vehicle. Intercoolers are much faster in cooling down the engine, especially compared to their counterparts such as radiators. This has pushed their use to turbocharged vehicles, as their heavy output heats up the engine quite quickly.
These devices work by using compressed air to absorb the heat from the engine’s combustion chamber. A transfer of energy takes place, as the air absorbs all of the heat, which is then transferred to a medium that further cools down the heated air. The medium could either be air or some liquid, depending on the type of the intercooler. As the air gets cooled down, it gets compressed, which then becomes ready to be sent back into the intake manifold of the engine.
Types of Front Mount Intercoolers for BMW F Series
Being turbocharged vehicles, the BMW F Series vehicles heavily rely on intercoolers as their main source of cooling. With two types of intercoolers available, it is essential to know which one works best for your model. The two types are air-to-air and air-to-water front mount intercoolers.
Air-to-Air Front Mount Intercoolers
The most common type of front mount intercoolers, air-to-air intercoolers serve as a simple and maintenance-free device for your vehicle. These intercoolers have a characteristic metallic body, with several overlapping tubes.
The working of these types of intercoolers is simple, as they do not require any additional fluids. The functioning of these intercoolers is simple, as heated air from the engine enters the intercooler and moves towards the tubes that are exposed to the external atmosphere. This is where the heat transfer process takes place. The device utilises the external air to cool down the air within the tubes, eventually cooling it to a level where it becomes compressed again.
The heat gets released into the environment, while the compressed air moves back towards the intake manifold of the engine. This allows the engine to utilise the compressed air again to produce a high power output.
Air-to-air front mount intercoolers are further divided into two types, mostly based on their physical design.
These intercoolers employ a system of tubes and fins to cool down the air. The heated air from the engine travels through a series of tubes and fins which allow the air to cool down at a rapid pace. These are the most commonly used types as they are quite affordable. However, tube-and-fin intercoolers can easily overheat, limiting their usage to non-performance vehicles.
In these intercoolers, bars and plates serve as a heat sink to transfer heat from the warm air. These intercoolers provide a much more effective cooling system, mostly owing to the sturdiness and conductivity of the materials used. However, these are much bulkier and more expensive.
Air-to-Water Front Mount Intercoolers
Also known as air-to-liquid intercoolers, these devices use a liquid coolant to compress the air for the engine. The functionings of these intercoolers are similar to that of their counterparts, with the only exception being that they use a coolant instead of air.
Heated air from the engine travels to the intercooler, where a liquid coolant is pumped that serves as a heat transferring medium. After absorbing the heat from the air, the coolant then travels to a separate radiator where it is cooled down, while the compressed air moves back to the engine.
Air-to-water front mount intercoolers are much more effective compared to their counterparts, mostly owing to the fact that liquids have a higher heat-absorbing capacity as compared to air. Despite being complex devices, air-to-liquid intercoolers are extremely effective, which is why most heavy-duty and performance vehicles employ these types of intercoolers.
The Bottom Line
Front mount intercoolers not only serve as a stylish accessory but also fulfill the crucial purpose of cooling down the engine. The BMW F Series also employs these intercoolers, which is why, for those that own these vehicles, it is essential to know the various types of front mount intercoolers. This can allow you to find the right device for your vehicle, along with helping you in performing maintenance and repair tasks. Both types of intercoolers can work perfectly fine for these vehicles, however, other factors such as installation costs, weight, and additional maintenance may influence your final decision.