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Why are modern radiators made from aluminium with plastic ends? What is the durability compared to 100% aliuminium radiators?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

With the improvements in modern antifreeze I rarely see radiator failures. Not that they don't happen, just no where near as often they did years ago. I think the crimped seal is more resistant to fatigue failure then the older brazed tanks were. Since aluminum can be expensive to shape and weld I am sure the reason for the change was a cost savings issue. Plastic is cheaper and easier to form than brass or copper or aluminum. The crimp is done by a machine that most likely is cheaper and faster than a robotic welder or a skilled craftsmen doing it by hand. Most of the failures I see now are either impact damage or the cooling fins separating from the tubes.

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My sample size is pretty small, but the only problems I've ever seen on the new style is cracks in the aluminum of the radiator tubes, the plastic end tanks don't seem to fail. – Brian Knoblauch Nov 2 '12 at 14:34
Indeed, the biggest reason would be cost savings. Though last year, the plastic end of my radiator split wide open, and my water temperature didn't even warn me until it was too late and my head gasket failed. That was a hard repair job. – hillsons Nov 3 '12 at 14:28

Aluminum radiators are more expensive to make. They are a hint more durable, but the increased cost is rarely worth the increase in weight and very small increase in durability.

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