How to choose a 4WD radiator replacement

What you should keep in mind when selecting a new 4WD radiator

Has your 4WD radiator failed you recently? In the hot summer months this is all too common, and can leave you stranded at the most inconvenient of times.

If your cooling system is struggling to keep up with the demands of your four-wheel drive adventures, you might be in need of a replacement or upgraded radiator.

Natrad offers a variety of radiator options, selected specifically for your needs. Taking into account your intended driving conditions and any existing engine modifications, our specialists can suggest a wide selection best suited to your four-wheel drive.

Is the rest of your cooling system condition working properly?

Before a replacement or upgrade radiator is placed in your vehicle, it’s important to check the rest of your cooling system too. If other elements have failed or are not running optimally, this could damage your new radiator and shorten its lifespan.

How do you know if you need a replacement or upgrade?

when to replace radiator

There are several signs which could indicate that your radiator is not in good condition, and that a new one is required.

Some of these signs may be that the temperature gauge reads hot even in normal driving conditions, frequent overheating, radiator discolouration or rust, recurrent low coolant levels or an obvious coolant leak.

A combination of these factors would indicate that your cooling system is in need of urgent care.

In the instance that you simply need an upgrade, symptoms may be slightly different. If your temperature gauge is reading high a lot of the time, especially while towing or carrying loads and strenuous off-road driving, you might benefit from a higher performance radiator.

A radiator upgrade would also be recommended if you have upgraded the engine to produce more power, where the current radiator may not be able to cope with the increased production in heat.

Is changing a radiator easy?

You might be thinking that you want to tackle changing your radiator yourself. If that’s the case, it’s certainly possible.

Natrad can supply you with a radiator ready for you to install, however, unless the correct procedure is followed the warranty on the part may be voided.

Before deciding this is what you want to do, it is advised you speak with a Natrad specialist who can diagnose any cooling system issues and explain the best way to fit your new radiator.

How do you test a radiator?

There are a few ways you can determine if there are any problems present with your radiator and cooling system.

The most common is a pressure test, which is possible to undertake yourself if you own a kit with the correct equipment. Otherwise, it is best you allow a qualified professional to do the test.

This method can identify whether there is a leak or faulty head gasket. By simulating the heat of the engine and cycling the air throughout the cooling system, the building pressure will show if anything has gone wrong.

Choosing the right radiator

4WD Radiator Replacement Types

Choosing a radiator suited to your 4WD can be tricky. There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when you make your decision. Here’s what you need to know:

Choosing the radiator material of the radiator

The common types are;

1. Plastic and aluminium

Usually found in most modern vehicles, these radiators have plastic headers/tanks and an aluminium core. Typical for most cars, plastic and aluminium radiators are light and strong and provide standard cooling, which would be sufficient for off-road driving. However, the plastic tanks can be susceptible to breakage and may need replacing more often.

2. Copper and brass

Copper and brass radiators certainly look the part in vintage and period-style cars. The material also has exceptional heat conductivity, but can struggle to withstand higher pressures. This makes it susceptible to ballooning or breakage. Copper and brass is typically better for endurance style driving, where higher temperatures and strain on the engine won’t occur.

3. Aluminium/Alloy

The main advantage of fully alloy radiators is their strength and ability to withstand higher pressures. This makes them ideal for high performance and competition engines, so if you are planning on pushing your 4WD hard this might be the choice for you.

Choosing the row quantity and tube size.

Based on the material of your radiator, the modifications of row quantity and tube size will be made accordingly. The strength of aluminium for example allows for larger modifications, such as fewer rows and increased tube diameter. Whereas a copper brass radiator would require more rows and smaller tubes to preserve durability.

A bigger tube size is generally considered most efficient, with minimal difference in core thickness. So, which one should you go for? Depending on the room available in your car and the material best suited for your needs, a Natrad cooling specialist can advise you on what combinations are possible for your radiator.

Choosing an OEM or aftermarket radiator?

If your current radiator has lasted it’s estimated life span and otherwise hasn’t given you problems, it’s reasonable to assume that replacing it with an OEM would make sense.

There’s nothing wrong with this logic. However, the advantage of aftermarket radiators is the ability to modify and improve cooling performance. Not only this, but Natrad can manufacture aftermarket fits to suit OE specifications without voiding warranty. And Natrad offers a 3 year nationwide warranty on any replacement radiators.

radiator material

Ready to choose?

To ensure optimal performance and the best choice for your 4WD radiator, speak to a specialist at the Natrad team to begin your selection today.