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Unread 01-30-2014, 07:15 AM   #1
wblackm
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Heater Core-Copper vs. Aluminum

I have found a few good threads on how to install. I will try in the next couple of weekends.

My question is about whether I should buy Copper or aluminum.

This is not a Daily Driver. I can source aluminum locally, and for half the price of copper(only copper I found was crown-I have been disappointed by them over and over).

What do you guys think from a durability standpoint?

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Unread 01-30-2014, 09:22 AM   #2
Spieg8
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I replaced my heater core 4 times last year. The original was copper and had been in the Jeep for 12 years at least. When that one started to leak, I replaced it with one from O'Reilly (also copper but I don't know the brand). That one failed immediately... literally leaked on the first test drive. Took it back for a replacement which was also copper. This time I smelled anti-freeze all the time but never found a leak all summer. It started leaking badly in the fall. Took it back for another replacement (lifetime warranty is great, but it still sucks tearing the heater box apart all the time). This time they gave me an aluminum core. It is really not well made. The tubes that pass through the firewall would not line up with the holes so I had to enlarge them (actually made the two small holes in the firewall into one larger oval shaped hole). So far it hasn't leaked at all.

I think that either material can work fine. The soldered joints in the tubing are what seems to fail (all my leaks were due to cracks in the solder).
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Unread 01-30-2014, 09:37 AM   #3
wblackm
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Do you know the brand on the aluminum one? Seems like what I find around here are Spectra, dont know much about them.

Thanks for the reply, yeah I am trying to avoid multiple replacements myself.
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Unread 01-30-2014, 09:41 AM   #4
seabass1858
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I replaced mine with an autozone copper core, and so far no leakage believe it or not
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Unread 01-30-2014, 09:43 AM   #5
CSP
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Any chance of having a radiator shop repair the stock core?
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Unread 01-30-2014, 09:46 AM   #6
wblackm
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Possibly, I won't know the extent of the damage until I get it out. I hope to remove this weekend. If it is simply a solder joint, I would think that is a possibility.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 03:47 AM   #7
RWise
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With the aluminum core you may also want to run anit freeze for aluminum. I would resolder the tube myself, but thats my cheap as-!
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Unread 01-31-2014, 10:46 AM   #8
scrapman
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I just replace mine last weekend with one from Autozone that was Aluminum. So far so good, no leaks.

I was skeptical when I first saw the aluminum heater core, but then I thought of how an aluminum radiator is supposed to have better cooling because of Aluminum's ability to dissipate heat. Supposedly it is twice as good as brass/copper.

In theory, this should make an aluminum heater core transfer the heat from the water going through it into the air much faster. Faster heat transfer = more heat. Only time will tell.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 11:13 AM   #9
seabass1858
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrapman View Post
I just replace mine last weekend with one from Autozone that was Aluminum. So far so good, no leaks.

I was skeptical when I first saw the aluminum heater core, but then I thought of how an aluminum radiator is supposed to have better cooling because of Aluminum's ability to dissipate heat. Supposedly it is twice as good as brass/copper.

In theory, this should make an aluminum heater core transfer the heat from the water going through it into the air much faster. Faster heat transfer = more heat. Only time will tell.
interesting because the one they had in stock down here in ga was copper. They had the aluminum listed as a hub transfer but not instock. O well thats autozone for you.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 11:24 AM   #10
gmakra
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Scrapman both aluminium and copper radiators are both effective and copper is slightly more thermally conductive. Personally I think the reason for aluminum radiators is purely a financial one and the reason I say this is back 10-15 years ago the Chinese were buying massive amounts of copper and it drove the price of copper through the roof. Having said that the car companies could not have the price of their suppliers swing wildly. Aluminum was more stable and the car companies decided to go that route along with that was a side benefit that would take the small radiator shops out of the business and send business back to the dealer or a vendor that made the radiators.

The issue of heat transfer on both of these radiators has been bought time and again, both will work and neither will remove heat any faster since it is a matter of time over flow to get good heat transfer. And to illustrate the point if you have a infrared thermometer install the radiator and take temps on the upper and lower radiator hoses then remove the thermostat and take the readings again. You will notice the temperature difference is narrower with out the thermostat since its moving through the core at a faster rate.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 12:28 PM   #11
steve1973
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The PH of your antifreeze may be the leak culprit. Aluminum is happiest with a PH of 7-9. Copper and cast Iron is happiest @ 9-12. If you put an aluminum radiator or heater core into an old CJ with an aluminum block and continue to use traditional basic "green" coolant there will be problems. The electrons on the aluminum will want to jump to the cast iron or copper. This is galvanic corrosion. Try to fill with one of the "all blend" Coolants with a PH of 9.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 12:36 PM   #12
LumpyGrits
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Copper
Pretty sure the're brass, just like the OEM radiator is.
LG
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Unread 01-31-2014, 01:10 PM   #13
scrapman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LumpyGrits View Post
Copper
Pretty sure the're brass, just like the OEM radiator is.
LG
My name isn't Scrapman for nothing. I do it for a living. The CJ OEM Heater core is Brass, and our CJ OEM radiators have Brass tanks and tubes, with Copper fins in between the tubes. Brass is however about 66% copper. I get calls all the time from people saying they have a "copper" radiator. I have not seen one in the 25 years I have been in this business.

Gmakra: Aluminum does dissipate heat better than brass. Just look at the aluminum radiators thickness that are on cars now compared to the thickness or the old style brass/copper radiators. They are at least 1/2 the thickness. However, aluminum is hard to repair. I do imagine the price of copper helped move the auto industry away from brass.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 02:17 PM   #14
CSP
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Aluminum radiators are more efficient because they can add a LOT more fins and not add a ton of weight. More fins = more surface area for the transfer of heat to take place.

This is the main reason why aluminum makes for better reason, not their heat dissipation qualities when comparing the two metals. A brass/copper radiator would weigh 150 pounds if it had as many cooling fins as an aluminum radiator.
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Unread 01-31-2014, 02:35 PM   #15
LumpyGrits
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The biggest reason the auto makers went with alum. was the almighty $$$$.
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