A radiator is a type of heat exchanger. It is designed to transfer heat from the hot coolant that flows through it to the air blown through it by the fan.
Most modern cars use aluminum radiators. These radiators are made by brazing thin aluminum fins to flattened aluminum tubes. The coolant flows from the inlet to the outlet through many tubes mounted in a parallel arrangement. The fins conduct the heat from the tubes and transfer it to the air flowing through the radiator.
Here are some helpful tips about radiators:
- Aluminum fins on the radiator work in parallel to help bleed off the heat from the coolant fluid passing through the pipes.
- Another type of fin is called a turbulator, and this particular fin helps increase the liquid flowing through the pipes. Liquids flowing through the middle of the pipe may not cool down as quickly as fluid that is touching the pipes themselves – and the turbulator, as the name suggests, increases the turbulence of the coolant increasing the amount of liquid that has a chance to touch the walls of the pipe.
- Aluminum is often used for radiators for its durability and lack of corrosion.
The staggering variety of radiators on the market today makes choosing one challenging to all but the most knowledgeable driver. Key factors include airflow, tubing, construction, and cost. Here are a few things to consider when making a decision on buying a radiator:
- Radiator fan: Radiator fans can be either electrical or mechanical – with electrical being the preferred version as mechanical fans can consume as much as 20 horsepower, and electrical fans consume much less.
- Strong wide tubes: It’s important to get tubes as wide and strong as possible to carry the volume of liquid that you need to carry, without the chance of these important parts breaking down.
- Free flowing: Keeping the coolant cool is the key reason for having a radiator – be sure that the coolant is able to freely flow through the pipes and radiator before you make a purchase.