3 row or 4 row radiators


Well-known member
going to get a new radiator for my 200ci..what is the best or differance between the 3 or 4 row radiator..it does run a little warm in the summer,160 term. new water pump etc.
Overkill? Will it hurt the engine, or do you mean the 4-row will offer nothing more than the 3-row?
8) it wont hurt the engine to use the 4 row rad, but it is more like tossing money in the toilet. you wont need the extra capacity with the six. my falcon does nicely with the stock 2 row rad.
I can see no reason why you would even need a 3 row let alone a 4 row. I live in south Texas where it gets very hot. My car has air cond. and I have a 2 row and keeps my car plenty cool. In the part of the country where you live you should get by with stock radiator. If you are having cooling problems and your radiator is in good shape it sounds like something else besides the radiator.
82 is probably right. Most cooling issues are due to radiators or other equipment going bad. I changed mine because my old one was severly corroded and the difference in price from a 2-row and 3-row was abotu $15-20. So I spent the extra few bucks.

If you drive the car during the winter...3-row will be hard pressed to warm up enough to provide heat. a 4-row will be worse. Even on a 95+ day driving at 75MPH (or sitting in trafffic) my temp hardly gets to 180 (thermostat temp). During the winter, the temp only reaches around 165-170 (with the same thermostat).

CobraSix":2uwyzm2h said:
If you drive the car during the winter...3-row will be hard pressed to warm up enough to provide heat.

I would have to disagree with ya on that. I have a 3 row radiator in my car. On those 25* mornings (yes, it does get that cold in Louisiana - especially this year!) the heater is about the only thing that I can depend on to work right - and fast! ;) :LOL:
I got a customized 4 row radiator, fan shroud, 8 blade fan, and a smaller pulley. An 8psi radiator cap.

Now if anybody can send me a pix on how and where to mount the water reservoir for the radiator. I dunno where to start.

BTW, if I change my radiator cap to a higher psi, say 13-16, will there be any difference?

Thanks. :)
hey..82..its not all reindeer and snow bunnys up here in minnesota..its does get hot and humid like texas..now, i said the car gets a little warm in the summer..i have a lot invested in the car and a little added insurance with a 3 row won't hurt..or will it?....
I am afraid you don't understand what hot is. I have spent summers in the northern states a few times. Believe me they are not the same as when you are in South Texas or any of the south western states. When you are outside and it feels like you are standing in front of a furnace then it's hot. A three row is no benifit to helping you keep you car running cooler over a two row. If you have everthing in good working order such as a good water pump, clean radiatior, clean engine, good hoses. You do want your engine running more on the warm side rather then the cool side. A warmer engine get better gas mileage and better performance.
The 3 row definitely stopped my overheating problems in the summer 100* temps. Big improvement over the 2 row (which was only 1-1/2" years old). When I changed to the 3 row, I did nothing else but swap out the radiator. The difference between the two is unbelievable. I would never go back to a 2 row.
I had a four row radiator in my six. It was new. on hot days in stop and start traffic,up big hills in the heat, and just idling on a hot day my truck would heat up to almost boiling. Did the timing, thermostats, different fans, nothing helped. I finally took it to a shop that builds rads. they told me the core was great for cooling as long as the air was blowing thru but when there was no air flow or little air flow the 4 core actually restricted the air causing the coolant to heat up. I had it recored to a 3 row and had no more problems. I punched a hole in my rad and couldnt afford a three row recore. went to 2 rows and it works just as well......larry
I've been to Corpus CHristi...yeah...its hot there. Try the desert southwest sometime. I found southern texas not as bad as other parts of the country. I've lived all over the country.

As far as cooling...a 3 row will cool more efficiently then a 2 row. It has more surface area to disabate heat. it has approximately 50% more surface area and since the cooling ability of the radiator is dependent upon the surface area of the radiator...a 3 row will cool more effeciently. Taking into account disrupted flow and heat...a 3 row will provide an increase of cooling ability by about 33%.

I love my 3 row. But I replaced after I replaced my entire cooling system.

Here's what I did, I took my stock Falcon radiator to a local shop and had them re-core it. I inquired about a 3-row or 4-row and they showed me what I needed and I went with a 2-row.

You don't need to be concerned with how many rows your radiator has. Instead, you need to be concerned with how much surface area the actual tubes provide for the cooling fins. The more surface area, the greater the heat transfer, and the more efficient the radiator becomes.

That said, I have a 2-row, 2" thick core with more cooling efficiency than a 3 or 4 row stock style core. I wish I had a picture of the tubes, you could see what I mean. My radiator has 30% more tubes than a stock radiator and approximately 35% more mass for increased surface area. I do not have cooling problems and I'm running a 192 degree thermostat.

Mluck's original question centered around his car runing warm with an assumed 2-row and a 160 thermostat. The 2-row is probably gunked up a bit and not capable of maintaining 160, which IMO, is too cool for the engine anyway. I would suggest a thermostat in the neighborhood of 180 - 190 degrees with whatever radiator you choose. I think the 3-row will be more than adequate to do the job, assuming the rest of your cooling system is up to snuff. If not, you'll change the radiator and still have the same problem.
Falcon, that's what I originally said...check the rest of the system. THe cooling ability of the stock system is usually fine, so long as it is in good condition. I replaced mine because my original radiator was corroded on the inside and the price was the same to replace it as recore it.

Concerning the warm up time, it has to do with your T-stat. With the engine cold the T-stat is closed (no flow to the rad except for bypass). The T-stat does not open until the coolant begins to pick up the heat from the block. That is why it is a good idea to check even a new T-stat before install. Boil using a candy thermometer and check for how quickly it opens and at what temp. I was told once the stamped value on the T-stat is only within 10 percent. Terrible spec if you ask me!

Falcon62 and Larry touched on a point that is connected. The surface area and providing air flow. If you have a plugged rad no matter what kind of air source you can provide you won’t develop the cooling you need. No matter how many rows you have in a good rad, without a good source of air (fan or driving speed) you won't provide cooling. On the other hand if you have a good 2 row with an unlimited air source you will provide all the cooling you need.

A good size for most of us with the added rpm and performance is the 3 row. If your 2 row is not in good shape now would be the time to re-core or go to the 3 row. But first check with your local rad shops for someone that can hook up your 2 row to a machine that pumps coolant through and checks for "Rated Flow" and "Rated Pressure". If all is correct then your 2 row should be fine as long as the second part of the equation is correct, air flow through the fins.

Good luck, Ric.
Today is February 1st and is 78 degrees here in Corpus Christi. Just though some of you up north might like to know.