Your car’s cooling system regulates and maintains a stable engine operating temperature for trouble-free driving. But, as you crank up the horsepower with bolt-on mods, engine temps go through the roof. Stock cooling systems struggle to control high temperatures, resulting in overheating and even engine destruction. That’s why it’s important to upgrade stock car cooling parts after adding engine mods. In this article, we give you “cool” info about performance radiators and how to choose the right one for your driving style. Let’s start with the basic parts that make up a radiator.
This is the visible, middle section of the radiator when looking through your car’s grill.
- Metal tubes transfer coolant from one side of the radiator to the other (cross flow), or top to bottom (down flow)
- Thin, metal fins placed between the tubes transfer heat to the surrounding air
Most stock radiators have a single row of tubes, whereas high performance radiators have up to 4 rows of tubes running parallel to each other. This is where the term “4-core radiator” comes from. And, multiple cores increase the surface area of the radiator, greatly increasing its cooling capacity.
These are rectangular tanks attached to the sides or top & bottom of the radiator core, also referred to as coolant end tanks.
- Acts as reservoirs for coolant, house transmission & oil coolers, and in some cases, have filler caps
- Made from plastic or aluminum
- Crimped or welded to the radiator core
While many stock radiators have failure-prone, crimped plastic coolant tanks, performance radiators use durable, welded metal tanks. This makes performance radiators less likely to leak, and aluminum end tanks transfer heat better than plastic.
What Makes One Performance Radiator Better than Another?
Sure, most performance radiators are made out of aluminum, but it’s their construction that sets them apart from each other. Start by inspecting the coolant tanks. The best radiators use a high-quality weld that is identified by their consistent, “C” shaped pattern. This ensures the weld won’t crack over time and spray hot, sticky, coolant all over your ride’s motor. And, while you’re poking around the tanks, see if the radiator has connections for transmission or oil cooler lines.
As for the radiator core, check the tightness of the fins. If they’re loose, they won’t transfer heat well. See what the coolant tanks are made of—aluminum end tanks can handle higher pressure before bursting unlike their plastic counterparts.
Aluminum Radiators are a Great Cooling System Upgrade for Your Classic
If you’re rollin in an older car, there’s a chance it has a copper/bronze radiator under the hood. But don’t fret—your oldie-but-goodie can easily benefit from the added cooling ability of an aluminum radiator replacement. The main reason is in the metal. Modern radiators use aluminum, which dissipates heat more effectively than copper or bronze. This means cars with aluminum radiators run cooler and are less likely to overheat.
As a matter of fact, performance radiators are a great upgrade for any ride. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes for either a drop-in fit, or a custom installation. So you can easily hook ‘em up, pour in coolant and control your engine’s temperature. That being said, an aluminum radiator could be your ticket to avoiding a break down.