Updated: Feb 1
✔ This article has been fact checked.
A car radiator is an essential component of a vehicle's cooling system. It helps to regulate the temperature of the engine by transferring heat away from it.
Radiators used in cars are usually found as one of two types; aluminium and plastic, or copper and brass. The aluminium ones don't contain any copper, the other type is not commonly used in modern vehicles, but it does contain copper.
In this article, we will explore if and why car radiators have copper in them and discuss the different types, the materials they are made from, and why copper and brass are used in the construction of radiators.
Table of Contents:
Types of Car Radiators
There are two main types of car radiators; copper-brass and aluminium.
Copper-brass radiators are made from a combination of copper and brass and not as commonly used in modern vehicles, they are heavier and used more so in industrial applications.
Aluminium radiators are made from a combination of aluminium and plastic and more commonly used in modern vehicles, they are also lighter.
The different types of car radiator has their own unique benefits and drawbacks.
What Material Are Car Radiators Made Out Of?
A car radiator typically contains one or more of the following materials.
Copper and brass are used in the construction of older car radiators or those found in industrial applications (trucks, agricultural and construction vehicles, etc). While aluminium and plastic are used in the construction of modern car radiators.
Copper and brass are known for their excellent heat transfer properties, while aluminium is lightweight, inexpensive and durable.
Do Car Radiators Have Copper in Them?
Yes, older car radiators and large industrial radiators have copper in them. However, most modern cars don't use copper in their cooling system and instead use aluminium.
Copper was used in the construction of older car radiators because of its excellent heat transfer properties.
Most modern vehicles use aluminium radiators but you may still find copper in older cars.
How Do I Know if My Radiator Is Aluminium or Copper?
It is relatively easy to determine if your radiator is aluminum or copper. Copper-brass radiators have a distinct orange copper color, while aluminium radiators have a silver color (or black if the radiator is painted or powder-coated).
They also have a different weight, copper-brass radiators are typically heavier than aluminum ones.
Why Are Car Radiators Made From Copper and Brass?
Copper and brass are commonly used in the construction of car radiators because of their excellent heat transfer properties.
Copper is a good conductor of heat, which means it is able to transfer heat away from the engine quickly and efficiently.
Brass is also a good conductor of heat and has the added benefit of being corrosion-resistant.
They are more effective at reducing the temperature of coolant than other types.
Together, copper and brass make an effective radiator material.
Older cars and industrial vehicle radiators contain copper in them. Most modern cars use aluminium radiators due to their lightweight and inexpensive properties.
Copper is a good conductor of heat, which means it is able to transfer heat away from the engine quickly and efficiently. Brass is also a good conductor of heat and has the added benefit of being corrosion-resistant.
It's important to know the type of radiator your car has to ensure you get the correct replacement.
Wikipedia. "Radiator (engine cooling)". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiator_(engine_cooling)
Wikipedia. "Radiator". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiator
Rowan Johnstone. "What are the different types of car radiators?". https://www.autoguru.com.au/car-advice/articles/what-are-the-different-types-of-car-radiators