Automotive radiators are heat exchangers used to keep internal combustion engines operating at a safe and efficient temperature. Heat from the combustion process passes via coolant into the radiator inlet tank and flows through the tubes of the radiator core. The heat contained within the coolant is dissipated in stages, first through the thin walls of the radiator tubes, then into the cooling fins and finally into the surrounding air.
There are two automotive radiator configurations:-
Down flow radiators have cooling tubes running vertically with the tanks positioned at the top and bottom.
Cross flow radiators have the tubes located horizontally and tanks on either side.
There are three types of radiator construction:-
Copper & Brass were the common materials used in automotive radiator construction up until the 1980’s – 90’s. Copper Brass is still used in Industrial applications. Fin material was mainly copper, and radiator tubes were manufactured from brass. Radiators of this type utilised brass or plastic tanks.
Aluminium & Plastic are now used in the construction of most passenger motor vehicle radiators. Aluminium cores with plastic tanks are cheaper to produce and lighter than earlier copper and brass radiators.
Full Aluminium radiators incorporate aluminium cores and tanks and are now provided as original equipment on some vehicles as well as a retrofit aftermarket performance upgrade component. Full Aluminium radiators are strong, lightweight and easy to manufacture.