June 16, 2023

What Makes an American-Made Radiator Different?

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By Jefferson Bryant

Open any catalog or parts vendor website that sells auto parts and you will see all kinds of options for radiators. The number of options at your fingertips is enough to make your head spin, but what makes one radiator better than the one next to it selling for less? While there are many factors that go into selecting a radiator, the one that is too often dismissed is country of origin.

Most of the radiator brands you see in the catalogs are from overseas, and the issue is quality. Every aspect of a radiator relies on quality input, garbage in, garbage out, as they say. A clean design can be ruined with poor assembly or low-quality materials. Overseas metals are made with predominately recycle materials and rarely actually meet the required specs for specific grades. This isn’t an issue for ornamental items, but when you are dealing with thin-walled tubes and fins, quality is everything. While aluminum is supposed to be lightweight, it isn’t supposed to be featherweight.

This is why U.S. Radiator builds all of their radiators in the USA with North American-sourced materials. Every single radiator they sell is designed and manufactured in-house using American labor and North American materials. This gives U.S. Radiator the ability to control every aspect of the product, from the tube wall thickness, to the welds that hold them together, all made in America. By controlling each piece of the puzzle, the quality inherently goes up. There are no corners cut to make something work, it works because it is designed to work together. Being fully in-house also means that  U.S. Radiator can make adjustments should you need something specific for your build.

For US Radiator, the country of origin is a key point. “We focus on North American-made raw materials and use American labor to build every single U.S. Radiator” said Phillip Cochran, President of US Radiator, “When you control the inputs, you can better control the outputs.” Durability is more than important in a radiator; it is critical for the well-being of your engine. If a tube fails because the aluminum alloy was not actually the right grade or too thin for the pressure, the results can be catastrophic for the engine. The aluminum used in U.S. Radiators is virgin aluminum, whereas overseas aluminum is recycled and of lesser quality. If you pick up a U.S. Radiator and a same-size overseas radiator, you will feel the difference. U.S. Radiator builds their cores with durability in mind, in fact their designs are based on heavy-duty “over-the-road” truck radiators, that see millions of miles of driving over their life of grueling, constant use. With a lineage like that, you buy a U.S. Radiator for your 70 Chevelle or 62 Chrysler Newport, you know you have the very best protecting the heartbeat of your pride and joy.

Because they control the materials, U.S. Radiator can fine tune the overall packaging. For example, the common sized tube in an overseas aluminum radiator is ½”, but U.S. Radiator uses 1” tube because they can. This increases the cooling capacity of a U.S. Radiator Aluminum core over the overseas offerings. “An overseas radiator might say it is a 4-row core, but that is 4 rows of ½” tube versus a U.S. Radiator aluminum core of 1” tube is 2 rows” Cochran says. “U.S. Radiator can build a 4-row, but it would measure 4.712” thick, which is much too thick for performance radiators.  The overseas 4-row cores are only 2” thick, the 3-row overseas radiator is less than our standard 2 row.  That’s a big difference” so when comparing price, you must compare apples to apples. Being all US-made does come with a price, US labor and materials simply cost more than overseas competitors. This means you might pay a little more for a U.S. Radiator than you will for a budget overseas unit, but the quality of what you receive is well worth the extra cost.

U.S. Radiators are built to look identical to the original radiator, including stamped tanks, so if you are building a restoration, you know it will clear the judge’s eye. The goal at U.S. Radiator is building radiators with the original OE look using modern performance cores. With over 3500-part numbers, they can fit practically any need, and if they don’t have it already, they can custom make it for you, in aluminum or copper/brass.

When it comes time to replace or upgrade the radiator in your vehicle, the choice is simple- visit or call them at 800-421-5975 to get the best radiator for your project built in America, by American workers, with North American materials.