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What you need to look for

In need of a radiator upgrade? Pin-pointing a single definition for performance in a radiator can be tricky. It’s not just about cooling capacity, there are other factors to consider too.

High performance is not limited to racing or ‘fast cars’, either. Depending on what you need, you’ll want to look at things such as strength and durability as well as corrosion resistance. If you want to know how these might be important to your vehicle, read on.

Natrad caters to a massive range of high performance applications, including hard-working engines such as heavy-duty or earthmoving, to trucks, race cars, 4 x 4’s or commercial vehicles. If you need extra cooling, Natrad can provide it. 

How to choose a high performance radiator

These days, alloy radiators are the most common high performance radiator out there, mostly due to lightness compared to other materials. They can also pack higher performing core configurations without compromising the weight, which could be important in motorsport or racing applications. But lo and behold, alloy is not the only option available.

While alloy is great, there are also other key factors that determine radiator performance in copper brass configurations. Consider:

  • Cooling capacity
  • Strength/durability
  • Corrosion resistance

Each of these areas is impacted by material, the number of rows, dimensions, shrouding, and pass systems. To find out more on what option suits you best, see below.

Materials

Plastic/Aluminium

Aluminium radiators with plastic tanks are essentially the industry standard in modern vehicles today. In saying that, industry standard refers to your typical everyday car which you might use for commuting or bustling yourself about on the weekends.

There is often not a lot of strain on the engine and these radiators will do an effective job of keeping your system cool. However, given the plastic tanks, they are more vulnerable to cracking and leakage, which makes them unsuitable for engines that reach higher temperatures. In other words, these radiators are not suitable for race cars.

Complete alloy radiators

You might have seen those high shine mirror-like finishes on some radiators. This means these tanks are made of aluminium alloy, which is usually the shiniest part. Compared to plastic, full aluminium alloy radiators are a whole lot stronger. Thicker material around areas of stress means more the radiator is more durable, making them an ideal choice for high performance and longevity.

Copper/Brass

Copper/brass radiators are typically found in older cars or industrial vehicles, like trucks. Before aluminium took over, copper was all the rage. And, even though they have been somewhat phased out, they certainly still pack a punch. Copper may be heavier, but it’s is actually more conductive at dissipating heat, making it well-suited to high temperature environments.

Copper radiators are also easier to disassemble and can be repaired if damaged, plus they are more resistant to electrolysis and corrosion. So who said copper is over?

Number of rows

Copper/Brass radiators use a standard brass tube arranged in rows. Rows dictate how much coolant can pass through the core, and therefore how much is in contact with the coolant. The more rows there are, the more fins and tubes in the core. This means there is more contact between air and coolant — which increases heat dissipation.

Most modern vehicles with aluminium radiators have 1-2 rows, anything larger usually indicates a modified or high performance application. Depending on space restrictions in your vehicle, a core with more rows may be suitable. Copper brass radiators, in particular, make use of more rows, where aluminium radiators tend to have fewer rows but more tubes and fins to increase cooling performance.

Dimensions

Typically a radiator’s size is respective to the vehicle, but if you’re looking for an upgrade, a bigger radiator may assist. Bigger can mean more rows and more cooling, but depending on the material, there may be other ways to increase cooling without adding the extra weight that comes with it. For example, a shroud.

Shrouding

A radiator shroud encloses the space between the fan and radiator, which helps better direct the air and prevents it from escaping. A shroud is generally used as a way to increase cooling capacity and is often found on performance radiators.

Pass systems

A pass system directs the flow of coolant through the radiator. Most modern radiators have 1 pass systems, where the coolant flows through the radiator via a direct path from inlet to outlet.

Higher performance radiators tend to have 2 or more pass systems, which adds a curve or bend in the pathway, slowing down the travelling coolant. This gives the radiator more time to cool it down before it exits.

What now?

Now that you know the ins and outs of high performance radiators, you’re one step closer to modifying your vehicle. If you want more comprehensive advice on cooling systems, radiators, or anything else, get in touch with a specialist.

At Natrad, we specialise in installing high performance car radiators and cooling systems. We can help you get the most out of your vehicle, and we can repair damaged or malfunctioning radiators.