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What is a Charge Air Cooler and Why Are They Important

Diesel engines and turbos go together like cheese and crackers. The science is simple: if you can force more air into your engine, it’ll create a larger explosion and more power.

It sounds simple enough, but there are two scientific principles that work against each other, causing inefficiency in the system:

  • Compression creates heat
  • Hot air is less dense than cool air

For maximum power and efficiency, the air that enters an engine should be cool. Denser air means more oxygen molecules in a smaller space, allowing for a larger explosion. Unfortunately, when a turbo compresses the air, it also creates heat. Hot air entering an engine contains less oxygen, which will negatively affect power, torque, and emissions.

Charge air coolers—otherwise known as intercoolers—act as the middleman between the turbo and the engine. They sit in front of the truck radiator and take the hot, compressed air from the turbo and cool it down before it reaches the engine. This increases engine efficiency and power.

How Does a Charge Air Cooler Work?

The function of a charge air cooler is to reduce the temperature of compressed air from the turbo before it enters the intake manifold.

The compressed air from the turbo is piped to the cooler. The hot air passes through several small tubes in the core of the charge air cooler which cools the air while maintaining the pressure. A charge air cooler reduces the temperature from ~450°F (from the turbo) to ~40°F above the ambient air temperature as it enters the intake manifold.

Your Truck Deserves a Dura-Lite Evolution® Charge Air Cooler

If you want the best charge air cooler available, look no farther than Dura-Lite. All charge air coolers are made of aluminum. Aluminum is a great material to remove the heat from the turbocharged air, but aluminum has one drawback. Aluminum expands and contracts a lot with temperature changes. Eventually, this expansion and contraction will cause all OE style coolers to start leaking and fail. Dura-Lite Evolution charge air coolers are unique, in that they are built using flexible seals on each tube. The seal allows the tubes to expand and contract freely. This means a Dura-Lite Evolution cooler that will last longer and stand up to heavy use. That’s why we’re the only company that can offer an unmatched 7-year, million-mile guarantee.

To ensure your truck can stand up to the abuse of the job, trust Dura-Lite. To learn more about how a Dura-Lite Evolution charge air cooler can help you get the job done, contact us today. We’re always happy to answer your questions!

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We offer a large selection of charge air cooler and radiator solutions to meet your performance and durability needs.