Refreshing your Intercooler fins by hand

When you are out at the track or car meet nothing makes you feel good like a clean and shiny engine bay. Showing your pride in your car and handy work. I decided to tackle this task after doing a bit of research. My research was making a choice on purchasing a radiator fin tool or doing it the old fashion way.

Before

Before

After

After

Having two vehicles with intercoolers I decided to do it all by hand. Armed only with my trusty wooden toothpick and pair of tweezers. I started my assault on the STi intercooler. It shows it’s at 110k miles with bugs and rocks wedged in deep and no appearance of having been treated to anything but blank stares as to why it is on top of the engine.

The two tools that completed this job, toothpick and a set of tweezers.

The two tools that completed this job, toothpick and a set of tweezers.

Having a lot of free time was one necessity to this project. My first 30 mins of trial and error of figuring out the most efficient way to do this netted me 3 rows complete. But after that is was smooth sailing, making it through the rest of the intercooler in about 2 hours. Which if I am not mistaken would be 31 rows.

My technique was to use the toothpick for the fins that were smashed flat together as it helped separate for the tweezers. The toothpick is also very useful rolled over edges it quickly pushes them back up to level them back out with the fin. The toothpick is your best tool for breaking dirt, bugs and rocks loose that have lodged into the fins.

The larger the tweezers the better in this. My set was about half the size of the fin and so I utilized two pinches per fin. Being right handed I found that pinched and pulling to the right swiftly straightened them to their original shape. I also found tweezing out debris to be quite helpful as the toothpick wasn’t a fix all.

During the task at hand I felt it to be quite like a banzai sand garden in which taking your time and enjoying the task provided the best results. It felt quite therapeutic and with every row completed you felt an invigorating sense of accomplishment. I think for he Forester I may take it off the vehicle as leaning over it for so many hours was not the best, which added quite a bit of time as I rearranged constantly.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Leave them below!

Intercooler before after-2.jpg
Dan Engstrom2 Comments