For a long time the standard for a radiator in any production car was for it to be coated in a black paint applied at the factory. Over the years we’ve come to sort of expect the radiator to be hid behind the grill. A shiny silver radiator stands out like a sore thumb and takes away from the lines of the front of a car that the car designers worked so hard to make. As years have gone on you may need to replace the radiator or maybe you’re doing a restoration on an original car and you want that original look. It’s quick and easy to spray your radiator with any old black paint or even the engine paint you’re using. These paint’s won’t give you the results you want and could actually decrease the cooling efficiency of your radiator. Below we dive a little deeper into painting your radiator.
First the coatings that come on many new radiators (even from a local radiator shop) can be sticky or easily chip off. New aluminum radiators generally come with no coating at all and stick out like a sore thumb behind a grill. With many upgrading the radiator in their classic car to a more efficient dual or tri-flow radiator will want a mode subdued look by painting the radiator black. Cheap black spray paints may work for the hinges on your shed, but they have no place on a radiator. Most cheap spray paints will tend to be too thick and when applied over the fins of the radiator can actually clog the openings between the fins decreasing the efficiency of the radiator. It’s one thing to look good, but looking good doesn’t do you any good if you can’t drive the car without overheating!
Durability is another concern, especially on a restored car that you put so much time into. You want the paint to stick well, look good, and hold up to the high temps seen in the engine bay. Cheap spray paints may go on ok, but after a few heat cycles you will see the paint chipping or peeling off. Take our word for it, stripping old paint off a radiator is no fun!
We were tired of poor durability and decreased performance after painting our radiators so we worked hard to develop a paint formula that gives you the looks you want with the paint consistency that it lays nicely with no decrease in cooling capabilities. What we’ve come up with is our Eastwood Radiator Black Paint in Satin or Gloss versions. Radiator Black Paint is good up to 300F and dries quickly. The enamel formula actually helps resist heat and of course looks great! The extra piece of mind of using a paint that will allow your radiator look and perform well is worth it in the end. We suggest two cans for a full size radiator and less for smaller items like transmission coolers, condensers, etc.
So before you install a new radiator or restore your original be sure you apply some radiator black to get the perfect sheen and durability!