Volvo Engine Cooling Fan Module

A couple of weeks ago, my wife drove her 2011 Volvo XC60 home and the radiator fans never turned off, until the battery was drained. I deduced from a little online research that it was the engine cooling fan module that was the problem.

Apparently it is impossible to buy this part by itself from Volvo, they want to sell you the entire radiator fan assembly. Which seems like more than slight overkill. I found a replacement part on Amazon (and also on eBay), and bought not one but two from different vendors as the reviews were pretty bad! A lot of “this worked for a few days” or only a few months, intermixed with “it’s been working fine ever since”.

A week ago I put in one of the replacements, and it seemed to do the trick. We even went on a road trip for a few days, and I brought along my extra just in case we had an issue. Well today my wife calls me to tell me that the car messaging indicated high engine temperature and to stop driving. While she was on the phone with me, the message went away on its own and she said the AC seemed to finally turn on (it apparently hadn’t turned on prior to this despite her pushing the button). She was right nearby, came home, and - without shutting the car off - I could see that the fans were running fine. Nonetheless, it appears that during her drive today they did not for at least a period. I proceeded to replace this module for the second time, and - upon firing up the car with the AC engaged - I can see that the fans, again, appear to be running fine with this module.

Does anybody have any general opinions of these modules, and am I throwing good money after bad? I know it’s a Volvo (the definition of this!). I am considering buying a considerably more expensive module from Gates that I saw some of the reviews mentioning. But, honestly, these parts (cheap $25 ones or $165 ones from Gates) all physically look the same. I’m starting to wonder if this is some el cheapo manufacturer cranking this junk out, knowing that people are going to be driving Volvos and having this problem, so flood the market with junk and make them chase “higher quality” by paying more.

Sometimes you get what you pay for . Gates is a brand name with a good rep in cooling parts . $165 is not all that much . I doubt Gates would risk their rep by contracting out for cheap parts . Go to their website and take a look, Engine Cooling Fan Relays / Modules | Gates Corporation

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Good to hear, thank you! I am unfamiliar with the Gates brand, so this is reassuring that it should be a quality part.

The cooling fan module may not be your problem. Your replacing the modules may just be fixing a “symptom.”

Admittedly, I don’t have any other suggestions for what the problem may be. But you might do some more checking.

Inspect the fan module connectors for heat damage. Gates offers a fan module that includes new connector pigtails.

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How would we have any opinion about “these modules” considering you haven’t told us the brands nor the part numbers just that they are off Ebay and Amazon? With bad reviews at that!

You generally get what you pay for in auto parts. If faced with a choice between $25 and $165, pick the $165. It doesn’t cost much to make a part LOOK like the real thing. The cost is in making it WORK like the real thing.

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Totally agree. Seeing other chatter elsewhere about this (ie Swedespeed Volvo forums) made me think that this was a commonly-failing component at around this age. Seeing these replacement parts at only $25-30 made me take the plunge and replace it without any additional troubleshooting.

Thanks for this. At the time of initial replacement I did poke around a bit, but did not see any obvious damage. I should probably inspect a bit closer.

There literally are no brands on most of these modules. On eBay they are literally listed as “unbranded” yet will list out the Volvo part number that they supposedly replace. The one I purchased from Amazon is listed as G*PE House.

Point taken, though - I get it, there are some junk imitation parts out there. And I agree that it matters more for certain things than others.

If the fan on/off decision is controlled by a separate switch that screws into the cooling jacket, those switches tend to be problematic. I’ve had to replace it twice on my Corolla over the years. On my car if it fails in the open condition the fan will spin all the time. If it fails in the closed position it will never turn on the the engine will badly overheat in stop and go traffic.

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There are and always have been parts sold to get a car fixed for long enough to sell it. You bought one of those. And then there are parts the pros use, and they don’t shop Ebay and Amazon, they often shop the dealer. There are parts that are in-between in quality and price sold from various outlets. Some very good quality but at strong prices.

As I said, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to auto parts no matter what they look like.

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What I suspect is that since the car is 10 years old with ??? miles on it is that the cooling fans are drawing excess amperage due to wear. That high current is what is doing the modules in.,

One sees the same issue with cabin blower motors and other items. Wear causes a high current draw which in turn will burn out resistors, blower modules, or even the wire connectors themselves; or all three. Sometimes, as in Fords, the ignition switch will fry. Hope that helps.

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Excellent point. I wondered the same when I had everything apart. My only data point in this area is that - when I had things pulled apart - I could spin both fan blades quite easily by hand (I did not feel a bunch of resistance). Not that this means a lot, but it’s something.

This could also potentially explain the “mixed bag” verdict on these modules. If half of people using them are actually treating a symptom (vs the module being the actual problem), then it’s easily imaginable the mixed review they receive.

Nonetheless, I have ordered a Gates module (FCM108) and we’ll see how that goes when it gets here. I’m pretty well committed to fixing this and will be sure to update this thread at some point in the future, to help anyone else in the same spot.

Thanks for everyone’s assistance!