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Common Oil Cooler Woes

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August 2005- 

Being employed in a position where several hundred as-removed aircraft oil coolers pass within my view each and every month, year after year, very likely means that I’ve seen just about every form of deterioration, impairment, and catastrophic failure that could possibly occur to such a device.

Even though I haven’t compiled any hard statistical data on the subject of oil cooler mortality, I can tell you with great certainty that the most common causes of oil cooler damage, poor performance, and catastrophic failure are preventable.

Before continuing any further, I should point out that the number one, most common reason for an aluminum aircraft oil cooler to become unrepairable, it seems, is due to corrosion. Even if everything else that takes place during the oil cooler’s operational lifetime goes exactly as-designed, the effects of time and corrosion will eventually kill it.

While not preventable, corrosion can be slowed—and the oil cooler’s useful life extended, with periodic cleaning of its exterior.

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