Is my engine too hot?

September 1, 2008 | By Richard Prince


I have a stock 1955 Oldsmobile that I cruise in and periodically show. In the summer, when temperatures get above 95 degrees F. the engine temperature goes up and it appears to be overheating. However, it has never boiled over or lost any water.

I plan to install a real temperature gauge to monitor the actual temperature. If it were overheating, would going to an aluminum radiator improve the cooling? Is aluminum better than brass? How about cross flow radiators?


A radiator crafted from aluminum is lighter than a comparable radiator made from copper/brass. In general, an appropriate, high-quality copper-brass alloy is more efficient than aluminum at conducting heat. Design, size, and installation are also very important factors that influence a radiator’s ability to keep an engine cool.

Before doing anything, you should determine what temperature your engine coolant is actually operating at. If it is, in fact, too hot when the ambient air temperature is very hot then you should do a comprehensive evaluation of all factors that influence running temperature, including radiator efficiency, water pump function, the condition and correctness of other cooling system parts such as the engine fan, pulleys, belts and hoses, air/fuel mixture, ignition timing, radiator air flow and sealing, and internal engine condition.