I'm looking at creating an advanced charger cooler setup for my car, can I use an intercooler as a charge cooler radiator? Or do radiators need some special coating on the inside of them?

It's a Toyota MR2, so I was going to use my greddy side mount intercooler as well as a front mount radiator to cool the coolant.

  • Is this a standard 1.6i twincam, or do you have some other engine/turbo setup? Sep 10, 2014 at 12:56
  • It's the 2.0 turbo 3s-gte SW20, but I'm asking as if for any car really, will I get some horrible corrosion or something?
    – Adam
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:44
  • Is there any particular need to have a secondary radiator in the rear of the car? It would not necessarily help with any overheating problems if you have some.
    – dobey
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:08
  • In an MR2 the rear vents get more air due to the way the car is shaped, I'm going for high boost which is why I need things colder
    – Adam
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:27
  • Boost is not equal to engine coolant temperature though. The rear vents do not get "more air" than the front grille opening for the radiator. There are a lot of mods that can be done to help manage cooling of the engine, ambient temperature in the engine bay, intake and charged air temperatures, etc… but additional coolant radiator in the rear isn't something I'd recommend trying to do, especially with something that's not actually a radiator.
    – dobey
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


Dobey has already told you why you shouldn't use an intercooler as a CC radiator. But let me add something more: a charge cooler does the same job as an intercooler. So instead of using a charge cooler fed by an intercooler, why not just use the intercooler to cool your air? It's what it was designed to do. If you're really worried about the air temperature, get a bigger intercooler or install water jets that will cool down your intercooler (I think the Nissan Skyline GTR had a system like this).

I don't know exactly what you're trying to do, but bear in mind that you can achieve the same power levels at lower boost if you have better airflow through your turbo. If you don't want to spend money on a new turbo, it could still be reasonably affordable to have someone install a higher flow compressor wheel in your current turbo. This could mean that you'll get the same amount of air at 24 PSI rather than 30, or something.

I like this approach because it means that you're not running your stock turbo outside of its efficient range, meaning it will last longer. If your turbo was designed to run at e.g. 15 PSI (1 Bar), it is highly unlikely that it will be able to tolerate much more than 20% more than that for long. By changing the compressor wheel, you allow more air to flow at lower turbo RPM and boost, keeping it within safe limits, while still making lots of extra power. Lower boost means lower intake manifold temperatures which in turn means you don't need extra charge cooling.

  • 1
    Snow makes a methanol/water injection system which works very well for cooling the intake charge. It also helps prevent NOx emissions by quite a bit. Sep 11, 2014 at 21:59
  • The problem with air/air intercoolers on mid-engine cars is that there's no good place to put the intercooler. So air/water intercoolers are better options, because the radiator for it can be mounted up front in front of the engine radiator, and not need a lot of 4" intake piping run all over the place.
    – dobey
    Sep 12, 2014 at 3:16
  • That makes sense. Mind you, if I were feeling adventurous I'd mount the intercooler flat just in front of the rear diffuser. Kind of like the exact opposite of how a Subaru WRX STI is layed out. I have no idea if it will work, but if I had the money, I'd like to test it out. Sep 12, 2014 at 7:23
  • Would work, just not very well. On an MR2, that's where the muffler is located.
    – dobey
    Sep 12, 2014 at 21:43

No, you cannot use an air/air intercooler as a air/water heat exchanger. It's not necessarily that you will see any particular corrosion from filling an aluminum air/air intercooler with 50/50 antifreeze/distilled water mix, but that it will just be horribly inefficient.

An air/air versus air/water system have different designs and materials. The diameters of the inlet/outlet are different. Stepping up a 1.5" radiator hose to a 4" air inlet, and then back down when going back into the coolant system, would create a very inefficient flow.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .