Some scoff at the thought of aluminum radiators, as they are used to the old style brass & copper radiators that were run in cars and trucks for decades. In the last 20 years, aluminum radiators have been taking over and all automotive radiators are now plastic & aluminum. But did you know that aluminum radiators actually perform better than copper radiators? Yes, it's true, Aluminum radiators can get away with a whole row of tubes less than copper radiators can; e.g. a 3 row Brass/Copper is equal in terms of cooling to a 2 row Aluminum radiator.
plastic, not Fantastic
I think the idea that most people hate is that fact that most radiators have plastic tanks on each end. Yes, the plastic cannot take near as much neglect as the old copper radiators can, but if taken care of, they can last just as long. Plastic tanks cant take excessive heat, wrecks, dirty coolant or pretty much anything else very well. In fact, they cant take it at all. One overheat and you have cut the life of the radiator in half!
On the other hand, if a plastic tank radiator is taken care of, with routine maintenance handled as it should be - routinely; then the radiator can last years beyond what it was made to last!
Is All-Aluminum The Way To Go?
All-Aluminum radiator scrap the idea of plastic tanks. This doesn't get rid of all failure, but it does help the radiator to take a lot more punishment than its plastic brethren. All-Aluminum radiators are especially popular in performance vehicles as these vehicles are pushed to their limits and need something to withstand that. They are also good for those who just wish not to have plastic. Most All-Aluminum's are built better and built to last longer, but they do come with a heavier price tag.
In conclusion, plastic/aluminum isn't that bad if you take care of it, but if you're looking for something durable like the old brass/copper radiators, and all-aluminum is the way to go. If for nothing else, people get them for the looks. The new shiny polish looks real pretty under the hood...