radiator cap close up in performance car

Do alloy radiators really work better?

Aluminium alloy radiators are the latest in automotive heat exchange technology, made for superior cooling capability, so the short answer to this question is yes. However, there are several factors that come into play on the performance of an alloy radiator. These being, weight, longevity, conductivity, strength and ability to withstand pressure.

Are you in need of a new radiator for your vehicle? To choose the right one for you, it’s important you consider these factors. So, we’ve put together an all you need to know guide.

The team at Natrad are a part of Australia’s largest network of cooling specialists and can help you with a range of cooling system, radiator and air conditioning inquiries. You can view the wide range of alloy radiators available here.

Bright & Shiny

The first instance, is appearance. If you’ve ever seen a high-shine, sleek mirror-like finish on a radiator, you’ve definitely encountered alloy. At Natrad, you can choose between textured natural finishes and high polish finishes on you alloy radiator.

Most modern vehicles have plastic / aluminium radiators, where the attached header tanks are made of plastic. Full alloy radiators are as they sound, fully metal and are more common in performance, classic, commercial or modified vehicles for a number of reasons.

While the look of the radiator generally only has a cosmetic impact, other factors are a little more important. See below.

Hot and heavy

Did you know copper is actually a better conductor of heat? That’s why up until the 70’s, copper brass radiators were all the rage. In the past 20 years or so, aluminium and alloy radiators have taken hold of the market.

Why? In terms of cooling, aluminium can achieve the same amount of cooling as a copper radiator using fewer rows and larger tubes. This may not seem like that big of a deal until you account for weight and strength.

Especially in performance vehicles, having a lighter, alloy radiator can make all the difference.

Natrad’s custom or off-the-shelf performance radiators are an excellent choice for vehicles with high powered or hard working engines. 

The long game

Another benefit of alloy is the strength of the material. Where copper can be soft and malleable, alloy holds up against forces like stress, vibration and pressure really well.

This means in racing environments; you can confidently push the limits of your vehicle without fear of overheating or breaking parts. For your average car, this makes it a very sturdy option.

It is also highly corrosion resistant, meaning if it’s well maintained it can last up to twice as long as a copper radiator. However, there is the potential for stray current which can inflict damage on the radiator and remove its corrosion resistance layer.

Issues with stray current

Stray current, also known as electrolysis, is a critical issue for radiators. All aluminium in contact with the stray-current-carrying coolant will be affected. The thin tubes are the first to fail as a result of this corrosion.

Electrolysis can happen in a few different ways. Often it is caused by incorrect installation of the radiator or fans, undiagnosed pre-existing issues such as faulty relays or poorly grounded electrical components.

The result can manifest in holes, blockages, withered metal and white aluminium oxide powder deposited inside the inlet and outlet pipes.

The only cure for electrolysis is prevention, so correct installation and testing upon doing so is essential. Up-keeping proper maintenance afterwards can help determine if stray current has occurred but by then the damage may already be done.

Natrad tests for stray current upon every radiator installation and can also test any vehicle’s cooling system for any pre-existing issues.

Ready to get your alloy radiator?

Get in touch with a cooling specialist at Natrad today. They can help diagnose any issues and assist in choosing the best option for your vehicle.