Are alloy radiators better for efficiency and longevity?

Do alloy radiators really work better?

Aluminium alloy radiators are the latest in automotive heat exchange technology and work especially well for a few reasons.  Key benefits include weight and cost, which makes them an attractive option for modern vehicles over older designs.

Are you in need of a new radiator for your vehicle? To choose the right option for you, read on for an all-you-need-to-know guide on alloy.

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 enquiries. You can view the wide range of alloy radiators available here.

Bright & Shiny

An added benefit for full alloy radiators is appearance. While most modern passenger cars have plastic header tanks, full alloy radiators are made completely of aluminium alloy. If you’ve ever seen a high-shine, sleek mirror-like finish on a radiator akin to the look of chrome, you’ve definitely encountered full alloy.

Alloy radiators are often found in performance, classic, commerical or modified vehicles as they are typically very durable. They are also great for on-highway vehicles thanks to this trait. Natrad custom alloy designs use 14% thicker tube than competitors so these radiators are made to last.

If you’re looking for a custom alloy radiator, at Natrad you can choose your finish. This includes textured natural finishes and high polish finishes. High polish is common in classic cars that have been restored and intended for display.

Hot and heavy

Another benefit to alloy radiators is the reduction in weight, which applies both to plastic/aluminium radiators and full alloy radiators.

Copper is actually a better conductor of heat, which is why up until the 70’s, copper/brass radiators were all the rage. However, it is also quite a heavy material and so, in the past 20 years alloy radiators began to take hold of the market.

Why? Because aluminium is a lot lighter and can still achieve excellent cooling. 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. 

Cost saving

Alloy radiators are also a cost-effective solution. Where copper is an expensive material, alloy is more affordable. This is why it’s generally cheaper and easier to simply replace a failed aluminium radiator rather than repair it.

The long game

The strength of alloy is also a benefit. Where copper can be soft and malleable, alloy can hold 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, it also makes it a very sturdy option.

However, there is the potential for stray current which can inflict damage on the radiator very quickly if not addressed.

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. When stray current takes hold it can manifest as:

  • holes
  • withered metal
  • white powder residue in high traffic areas (inlet and outlet pipes)
  • tube deterioration
  • blockages
  • and build up of residue

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

This can result in radiator failure in a very short amount of time.

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. For more information read our electrolysis article.

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.