Brass versus Plastic/Aluminum radiator?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by CRGILL, Nov 11, 2003.


    CRGILL Guest

    I managed to puncture the OEM aluminum radiator on my 94 Legacy while replacing
    the crank oil seal (don't ask, I feel stupid enough already). All local
    radiator specialists only have brass replacements. I've read on a number of
    occassions that you should not mix brass radiators with aluminum engines as the
    electrolysis this causes results in potentially severe pitting in the aluminum
    & plating of the brass, which can clog the radiator & is well nigh impossible
    to remove. Also, aluminum radiators are stronger & disipate heat better.

    Anyone have any comments on their experience with replacement brass

    CRGILL, Nov 11, 2003
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    Tony Hwang Guest

    Tried have the puncture repaired?
    Tony Hwang, Nov 11, 2003
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  3. Yes...

    Copper/brass (many are brass end caps on copper cores) is better IMO.
    Why? Aluminum/plastic radiators are a concession to cost and perhaps
    weight (in the never ending quest to meet fuel economy standards, mfrs
    have cut weight in a lot of unlikely places.) At the user end, they seem
    to develop leaks, most of 'em unfixable, more than copper/brass units.
    While it's true alumimun MAY transfer heat better than brass, it's not
    likely enough to do a lot in real life. While the aluminum may be
    dissipating heat faster thru the core, the plastic end caps are not! So
    it seems a balancing act to me.

    Corrosion? Haven't seen it as a problem IF you keep your coolant changed
    on schedule (annual or bi-annual) and mix it using distilled water. The
    electrolysis thing sounds like someone slept thru half their high school
    chemistry class--someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my
    understanding that since the brass radiator is isolated from the
    aluminum engine components by the rubber hoses, any electrolytic action
    is minimal if not non-existent (again for real life situations, not lab
    experiments.) Don't change your coolant frequently, you've got a problem
    with aluminum regardless of the type of radiator.

    Even if I'm wrong in all the above, I've used brass radiators with all
    or partial aluminum engines for years with no problem. Check with for prices and availability before buying from a local
    shop--it might be worth a call. I got a two row unit from them for less
    than my local guys wanted for a single row!

    Best of luck,

    Rick Courtright, Nov 12, 2003
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