Radiator 101: Cross Flow Radiator, Down Flow Radiator
Have you ever asked yourself "What is a radiator, what does it radiate, and how does it work anyway? Can you recore a radiator?" It's actually a bit ironic: auto radiators do not 'radiate' anything but rather operate by convection. Convection is the transfer of heat that occurs during the automatic circulation of fluid. In other words, super hot fluid enters the radiator through one tube from the hot engine. From there it trickles either down or across smaller tubes (cross flow radiator or down flow radiator) attached to flat, metal pieces known as 'fins,' where the fluid is cooled off by the breeze blowing through the grill. The higher the fin per inch ratio, and subsequently the greater the surface area of auto radiators, the greater the amount of cooling. This could be something to look for when shopping for a radiator.
There are two basic types of auto radiators: down flow radiator design and cross flow radiator design. Both have top tubes where this super hot fluid enters the radiator and bottom tubes where the cooled fluid returns to the engine. Between the entering and the exiting, the coolant passes through smaller, thinner tubes, exposing it to cool air and lowering the temperature of the fluid. Outside of the core and on the other side of the hoses are two tanks, or reservoirs that hold either the hot or the cold antifreeze. The difference between the crossflow radiator and the downflow radiator is where these tanks are located. On the down flow radiator design, the tanks are located at the top and bottom of the core. The super hot fluid enters through the top tank and trickles down through the tubes with the help of gravity and a water pump. On the cross flow radiator design, the tanks are located on the sides of the radiator's core, allowing the pump to push the coolant across the core from right to left.
Radiator tubes and fins are fragile and can corrode or develop leaks easily because of their thin construction. Attempting to fix a leak (by attempting to recore the radiator) in the core can result in the reduction of surface area on the fins and seriously compromise your radiator's ability to cool your engine properly. A leak can only truly be fixed by re-coring or replacing auto radiators. Both will cost you around the same amount and a replacement will be a stronger part with a better warranty. Re-cores are great for very old cars, hard-to-find models and the most expensive of replacements. In all other situations, you will want to buy a new part. Call =phonenum?> for advice on replacements, re-cores and which is best for your vehicle.