Mustang Aluminum Radiator Vs Stock Radiator Benefits, Features & Differences

Created by Tyler Rodriquez
Date Created: 1/9/2017
Last Updated: 2/14/2023

Thinking about upgrading to an aluminum radiator? Check out the key differences, benefits, & features of an aluminum radiator & why it's worth the upgrade!

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  • Aluminum Radiator Vs Stock Radiator Benefits, Features & Differences


If your factory aluminum radiator has started to leak, is clogged, or is damaged, it is the perfect time to upgrade to an aluminum Mustang radiator. Some of the questions we always get are, "What is the difference between an aluminum radiator and a factory radiator?" & "Why should I upgrade to an aluminum radiator." We will discuss key features, benefits, and differences in upgrading your cooling system with a new radiator.


Better Materials/Construction

One of the most apparent differences is the all-aluminum construction, where the factory radiators are usually a mix of aluminum and plastic. This dramatically reduces the chances of your radiator leaking, as the plastic tanks on OEM radiators often crack over time. With most aluminum radiators, you will get a thicker radiator core which will increase surface area for more airflow, better durability, larger tank size for increased cooling capacity, and larger tubes for better coolant flow. Aluminum also offers greater heat dissipation properties over your OEM counterparts.


More Rows

"2-row radiators" or 3-row radiators" are used in the automotive industry to refer to the number of rows in the core of your radiator. More rows mean more coolant can flow through the car’s radiator, thus keeping your engine cooler by increasing heat transfer. Whether you have a downflow radiator or crossflow radiator, more air can flow through the cooling fins with these added rows will help with the overall cooling abilities of your system. High-quality two and three row aluminum radiators can greatly improve the cooling capabilities of your automobile’s cooling system. Combined with a high-flow water pump, new engine coolant, and quality thermostat, these radiators can help reduce overheating in even the harshest conditions.


Lighter Weight

Depending on what year car you have and what type of radiator is in your car, an aluminum performance radiator could also be lighter than the original radiator. This will be an excellent upgrade for older cars with brass radiators or copper radiators. Newer vehicles with copper core and plastic tank radiators may not significantly differ in weight. If your aftermarket aluminum radiator offers a larger fluid capacity, this can also offset the overall weight differences.



If you want a cleaner look in your engine bay, replacing your car’s radiator with a shiny new aluminum one can always help! Aluminum radiators and heat exchangers usually offer a flat, clean top that can give the messiest of engine bays a better look. Another way that they can improve your underhood appearance is that they are usually made with polished aluminum or coated in a heat-conductive coating like black. While shiny aluminum is some people's favorite, you may opt for a more stealthy black radiator. 


Coolant Information

As mentioned before, aluminum radiators usually have an increase in fluid capacity over their OEM counterparts. Engine coolant is under high pressure, usually 9-15 pounds per square inch (PSI), increasing the temperature at which the coolant solution will boil. Increasing the temperature at which coolant boils will help to improve its cooling capacity. For each PSI of pressure added to the cooling system, the overall boiling point of the coolant/water mix is increased by 3 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When replacing your stock radiator or any engine coolant part, it is good practice to flush and replace your cooling system fluid. The reason is that over time the high temperature and pressure combined with the materials of the engine block, cylinder heads, and even radiator can cause particulates to form in the cooling system. These particulates can clog tubes or conduct electricity, increasing corrosion in aluminum cores, copper-brass radiators, tank-bonding epoxy, and even solders used in the radiators' manufacturing process. This is why radiator manufacturers and automobile manufacturers recommend scheduled fluid changes. When in doubt, follow your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance program.

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Thumbnail image of the author of this article, Tyler Rodriquez.

About the Author

Tyler has written content for Late Model Restoration for nearly 8 years, producing over 300 articles. As an avid New Edge fan, Tyler has owned 4 2004 Mustangs and an 88 Convertible Fox Body. Read more...