Car Radiators Aluminum Vs. Copper

Written by richard rowe
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Car Radiators Aluminum Vs. Copper
Aluminium radiators are usually used for racing or show. (Image by, courtesy of Eric Castro)

Aluminium radiators are just as efficient as copper radiators when it comes to dispersing heat and they have a number of benefits. Whether it's worth the money to upgrade to aluminium depends on your vehicle and needs.

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Radiators were developed in 1855 for use in central home heating, and were originally made of either steel or cast iron. Copper radiators were first used in 1905, and aluminium hit the scene ten years later.


The purpose of any radiator is to absorb engine heat via coolant, and to disperse it into the air as quickly as possible.

Aluminium Conductivity

Aluminium does not have the excellent heat conductivity of copper, and requires larger fluid tubes and a thicker radiator to dissipate the same amount of heat.


The main advantage to aluminium radiators is that in spite of their additional thickness, they often weigh less than half of copper radiators. This cuts weight off of the front of the vehicle, which is vital in any kind of racing.


Aluminium radiators typically cost two to three times more than a copper radiator. This is why they're generally only used in racing, or on the show car circuit where their chrome-like appearance justifies the cost.

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