Why have them?
Radiator cores with plastic tanks have been fitted to most European and
Japanese cars since the early eighties with the Holden Commodore
changing in 1989 and Ford Falcon in 1998. Toyota was the main Japanese
manufacturer to resist change but even the Landcruiser is now
alloy/plastic. In 1998, 97% of new vehicles registered in Australia have
an aluminium core fitted.
broad terns of heat conducting properties, copper is a little better
than aluminium, brass is noticeably worse, BUT lead is a shocker. A
copper/brass radiator has brass tubes and copper fins with solder
joining these together. Solder is approx.70% lead, so this is where
their inefficiency to aluminium lies. An aluminium radiator cannot only
dissipate more BTU's of total heat, but also quicker. I have seen data
logging results of a comparison between a copper/ brass and an aluminium
radiator of similar dimensions, fitted to the same drag car with the
water temp. graph being slower to rise, not as high a peak and also,
started dropping as soon as the driver got off the throttle for the
aluminium, whereas the other radiator actually kept increasing a little,
When Nissan Aust. tested the two
different radiators, they found a copper/brass core deteriorated
exponentially quicker than aluminium, meaning its cooling rate was much less
again after 4 years of service.
A new air conditioned 3.0 litter, 6
cyl. VL Commodore came out of the factory with a 3 row, 50mm thick copper
brass core. The next model Commodore, an air conditioned 3.8 litter,V 6 cyl.
VN came out of the factory with a single row of tubes, 29mm. thick aluminium
core, even though it was more powerful. a little heavier and with a little
smaller grille opening! Nearly the same for Mazda RX7 rotaries, their 3 row
50mm copper brass core was replaced by a 2 row 37mm. aluminium core by the
factory. These are real world examples of an aluminum cores advantage.
Now the downside
If an aluminium radiator is looked
after properly, it will last at least twice as long as a copper/brass unit
and without anywhere near as much continual loss of performance as a
copper/brass unit suffers. If it is totally abused, it can also be rendered
unserviceable 283 times quicker than a copper/brass unit, so it really pays
to look after them!!! It is a simple matter of not mixing different
brands/types of inhibitors, replacing inhibitor when due and having a stray
current test performed every 12 months or each time panel beating or
electrical components are fitted. Plastic tanks are usually the
first thing to go, so the cooler the system runs, the longer they will last.
Most cooling problems are caused by mixed
brands/types of inhibitors (coolants), followed by cracked plastic tanks,
tube leaks, split header plates and then lastly is stray current.
Unfortunately, far to many radiators blocked/leaking due to mixed inhibitors
are from vehicles having expensive head gasket repairs performed. You must
never allow different inhibitors to be mixed in your car without the proper
preparation first. Aluminium Radiators and Engineering specializes in this
Experience has taught us the best method to change inhibitor brands or
to put inhibitor into a system with an unknown product (used car etc.)
is the following:-
for stray current and then pressure test.
Check condition of hoses.
reverse power flush system - (radiator, engine and heater as a unit)
for a day or four complete hot/cold cycles
reverse power flush system - not just a hose with air/water mixer either.
proper inhibitor in correct proportions to system. We use either
Tectaloy or OEM - genuine manufactures inhibitors depending on the
test system and do a stray current test.
The cost of
this work on an average car is $80 plus the appropriate inhibitor. Very
cheap insurance against the cost of rectifying the damage caused as
shown in the core samples on display.
Some inhibitors have a life span of two, three even four years. It is
important to have your cooling system checked, pressure tested and a stray
current test performed every twelve months. Aluminium Radiators &
Engineering provides this as a free service. We have all the best equipment
to service, maintain or repair your cooling system .