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Can You Paint an Intercooler?

If you want to customize your car, making changes to the intercooler is fast and adds more personality to your vehicle. However, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re doing before trying it! You wouldn’t want to damage this part of your car.

So, can you paint an intercooler? You can spray paint on an intercooler as long as you apply it at a 45-degree angle. If you spray the paint on the intercooler directly, it could clog the fins or make them less effective. Always work in light coats and let them dry before applying another. That way, you can also check for clogs.

While you can paint an intercooler, you’ll need to have a plan first! You shouldn’t just use whatever paint you already have lying around at home. Before you try this project, there’s a lot to know, so let’s continue reading.

Can You Paint Intercooler Fins?

Intercooler fins serve an important purpose. They keep the car cooler so it doesn’t overheat by using a heat sink and airflow. If you paint over them, you may lower their performance, so it’s best to avoid painting them directly. 

If you paint the intercooler, you’ll want to use thin spray paint. Make sure you also clean the fins off well- you wouldn’t want to trap debris on their surface with the paint.

Overall, you shouldn’t paint on the fins because doing so can slightly decrease the intercooler’s performance. However, the temperature difference is usually very slight and may not impact your car much. Still, it’s something you should be aware of. 

What Paint To Use on a Car Intercooler

You should only use spray paint on a car intercooler. Any other paint can be too thick, causing clogs in the intercooler system. You don’t want to damage the car part, so it’s better that you use very light fine spray paints.

Rustoleum spray paints are a great option. They protect the intercooler while making it look nice and new! You’re sure to appreciate all of the benefits that this paint has to offer.

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Plus, you can find plenty of other car spray paints, which work the best on metal. As long as you make sure that you have the vehicle spray paints, you’ll get outstanding final results.

Overall, make sure to only use spray paint. Other paints won’t give you the finish you want and are more harmful to the part.

Does Painting Your Intercooler Change Performance?

Painting your intercooler does negatively impact its performance. When you add paint to the metal, you also add another layer of insulation to the surface. Since the intercooler is there to transfer heat, it won’t do quite as well.

Non-painted intercoolers reduce temperatures by about 212°F (100°C), while painted intercoolers reduce temperatures by 206.6°F (97°C ). That’s only 5.4°F (3°C) less effective, but it’s still a negative change to the intercooler’s function.

Intercoolers’ main function is to reduce fuel consumption and increase engine efficiency. Lowering the performance of the part will make your vehicle use a bit more gas than it does currently. It also can reduce engine performance, although the change is usually not noticeable to us right away.

Overall, painting your intercooler does change the performance. You’ll need to consider this before you make any adjustments to it. Many people aren’t bothered by the slight decrease in function, but you should still know about it. 

How To Remove Paint From Intercooler

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If there’s already paint on the intercooler and you want to remove it, you can do so yourself! It’s not a challenging project. You’ll need a spray-on paint remover to get the job done.

Start by applying the paint remover to the intercooler, then let it soak for a few minutes. Use a wire brush or scrub to remove as much paint as possible, then gently spray the intercooler off with a hose. This process should remove most of the old paint- you might need to do it again to get all of it off.

I recommend using SmartStrip Paint Remover, because it’s eco-friendly, and it works great on metal!

You can also visit a local auto body shop. Many have access to solvent tanks that they can put the part in to safely strip the paint. The professionals there can also offer plenty of products that should remove the old paint.

In short, you can remove the paint from an intercooler. This fact gives many people who want to paint their intercooler peace of mind since they know that they can remove the paint later if they want to.

How Do You Paint Letters on an Intercooler?

Many people also like spray painting logos or text on their intercoolers. It’s a very easy DIY car project, and you can put anything you want on your car. Start by printing out the text on a large scale. Then, cut the letters out to create a large stencil.

You can also purchase pre-made stencils like this set here. Most stencil sets are reusable and can be used on any surface.

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Clean your intercooler well and tape the stencils to the surface. Lastly, use your spray paint and let it dry- it’s very simple and an easy way to get your designs on the front of the car. Ensure you tilt the spray can at a 45-degree angle so you don’t spray the fins directly.

Give the first coat some time to dry, then apply another. Once it sets, you can remove the stencils from the car. You’ll have your letters on the intercooler! 

Make sure to do this on a clear day and be as neat as possible. You don’t want to accidentally spray other places on your car or your driveway with paint!

Final Thoughts

In short, you can technically paint an intercooler! Many people do this to add logos and other text to the front of their cars. However, it will lower the overall performance of your intercooler slightly. You should consider this before you do the project on your vehicle.

If you have a car with a painted intercooler, you can remove the paint to increase the performance. Auto body shops have access to solvents and spray-on materials that they can offer you. So, don’t worry about your text being a permanent fixture on your car!

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!