Types of car radiators

Updated February 21, 2017

A car radiator is a vital component in the vehicle's cooling system. Leaks and blockages in the radiator can cause the car to overheat, which can lead to serious damage and expensive repairs to the cooling system. Radiators are either cross flow or down flow, depending on where the tank is located. A cross flow radiator tank is positioned on the side of the core and a down flow radiator tank is positioned on the top and bottom of the core.

Plastic and Aluminum

Plastic and aluminium radiators are the most common type of radiator found in modern cars. They have an aluminium core with a plastic tank and are the least expensive to mass produce by car manufacturers.


An aluminium radiator has both a core and tank constructed of aluminium. Aluminium is a lightweight material, so these radiators are built for high-performance cars that require better performance.

Copper and Brass

A copper and brass radiator has brass tanks with a copper core and were used until the mid-1980s. Copper is expensive and subject to corrosion with high repair costs, so these radiators have been replaced by plastic and aluminium versions.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Chasity Goddard has been writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction since 1996. Her work has appeared in "Backspace" magazine, "Sepia Literary Magazine" and the "Plowman Press." Goddard holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing with a specialization in women's studies from the University of Tennessee.