Plastic/Aluminum vs. Copper/Brass Radiators: WHICH TYPE IS BETTER?

Posted on August 17, 2011 by The Radiator Man in Education Center

Radiator design and manufacturing methods have changed over the years, and recently we have seen a shift from vehicles with all-metal, copper-brass type radiators to a plastic-aluminum style radiator. Why the change? The number one reason, I believe, is the rise in manufacturing costs and the cost of the metal itself. We have seen copper prices almost triple in the last ten years, and this is a major reason why car companies are putting in plastic/aluminum radiators. Another reason is that plastic/aluminum radiators are being mass-produced in countries like Taiwan, China, and Mexico,
and driving down their cost. This is great for the consumer, but the average buyer has no idea the relative benefits in choosing an all-metal radiator over a plastic/aluminum one.

Below I have listed some of the benefits and drawbacks of each type of radiator-


PROS:  -Lighter

              -Generally less expensive compared to copper/brass

 CONS:  -Electrolysis likely to occur

               -Repairs are usually NOT cost-effective

               -More difficult to repair

               -Plastic tanks can crack


 PROS: -More durable

             -Transfer heat better

             -Repairs usually cost-effective

             -Easier to repair

 CONS:  -Usually more expensive

               -Heavier compared to a similar plastic/aluminum radiator

As you can see, both types have their advantages. Most consumers will opt for a cheaper plastic/aluminum radiator because of the cost, but in the long run, an all-metal radiator will usually last longer over the life of the vehicle.

We have both types in stock today, so give us a call if you’re looking to replace your old radiator!



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