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Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? #4353220 03/13/17 10:50 PM
Joined: May 2002
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TheLoneRanger Offline OP
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I'm looking at a new set of lines running from the
trans to the radiator cooler. Dorman makes a set that
the description says they are "upgraded" to aluminum
from the stock type steel lines. They are supposed to
be corrosion resistant.

This seems to be a downgrade to me, since aluminum is
softer and less durable than steel.

What do you guys think?


Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.....
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353229 03/13/17 10:58 PM
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E150GT Offline
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Originally Posted By: TheLoneRanger
I'm looking at a new set of lines running from the
trans to the radiator cooler. Dorman makes a set that
the description says they are "upgraded" to aluminum
from the stock type steel lines. They are supposed to
be corrosion resistant.

This seems to be a downgrade to me, since aluminum is
softer and less durable than steel.

What do you guys think?


I dont know anything about those lines, but the name dorman makes me shudder


1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD - 100k
1995 F150 XL 4.9 reg cab 5MT - 251k 5w30
2016 Mazda6 Touring 6MT - 68k 5w30
2006 Buick Lucerne CXL 3.8 40k 5w30
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353237 03/13/17 11:07 PM
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Black_Thunder Offline
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they are probably a touch thicker being aluminum so they can handle the pressure etc.


just make sure they won't come in to contact with anything, so they don't rub through etc.


or perhaps if you do stay with steel maybe try to paint or undercoat them so they last longer.


I'd buy Callahan autoparts if I could.
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353277 03/14/17 01:14 AM
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buck91 Offline
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Originally Posted By: TheLoneRanger
I'm looking at a new set of lines running from the
trans to the radiator cooler. Dorman makes a set that
the description says they are "upgraded" to aluminum
from the stock type steel lines. They are supposed to
be corrosion resistant.

This seems to be a downgrade to me, since aluminum is
softer and less durable than steel.

What do you guys think?


The question I would be asking is whether the lines will be experiencing any flex or movement at all? Aluminum lines may avoid some corrosion problems, and perhaps add an incalculably small improvement to cooling... but they won't hold up to repeated flexing like steel. I've had many lines rust up on me over the years, but never had the trans cooler lines rust up to the point of being problematic.


2018 F150 Screw 4x4 2.7L Ecoboost
2011 F150 Scab 4x4 5.0L
1996 Mustang GT 5spd/ragtop
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353420 03/14/17 08:07 AM
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meep Offline
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Also, cooler lines, to my knowledge, don't carry much pressure. That's not likely an area concern.


2018 F150
2015 crv (wifey!)
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353451 03/14/17 08:44 AM
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JC1 Offline
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Originally Posted By: TheLoneRanger
I'm looking at a new set of lines running from the
trans to the radiator cooler. Dorman makes a set that
the description says they are "upgraded" to aluminum
from the stock type steel lines. They are supposed to
be corrosion resistant.

This seems to be a downgrade to me, since aluminum is
softer and less durable than steel.

What do you guys think?


Hold old are the original ones and how long are you going to keep the vehicle? Also what's the price difference? That would factor into my decision.

If the price is only a little bit more then I would upgrade. If it's double the cost and you aren't keeping the vehicle a long time you're probably ok with the steel lines IMO.


2015 Grand Caravan SXT Plus 0w-20 Pennzoil Ultra/Fram Ultra Filter
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Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: meep] #4353485 03/14/17 09:35 AM
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Lubener Offline
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Originally Posted By: meep
Also, cooler lines, to my knowledge, don't carry much pressure. That's not likely an area concern.


Agree. Aftermarket coolers use rubber hose that withstands atf.


The "thinking" man's friend.
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353504 03/14/17 09:56 AM
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Trav Offline
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I like to use steel lines for transmissions and coolers.



ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4353605 03/14/17 11:45 AM
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exranger06 Offline
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Just because steel is more "durable" doesn't mean it's the best choice for the application. Just how durable does the line need to be? Going with that logic, the line should be 1/4" thick wall tubing because it's more durable. Who cares that it's ridiculously thick, expensive, hard to install, etc?

This reminds me of when I replaced the metal gas tank in my Bronco with a plastic one. Even though the plastic is less "durable," it is plenty strong enough to hold gas in it, just about all cars nowadays have plastic tanks and they work just fine, and best of all, the plastic one won't rust like the metal one did (which is why I needed to replace it). In that case, plastic is clearly the superior material.


2006 Ford Ranger Sport
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Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: meep] #4353626 03/14/17 12:12 PM
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SHOZ Offline
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Originally Posted By: meep
Also, cooler lines, to my knowledge, don't carry much pressure. That's not likely an area concern.
No they don't I drove 200 miles one time and had forgotten to tighten a hose clamp.. Got off the freeway and at the next stop sign it popped off. frown

I would just use rubber hose and have in the past. I use to use bigger fittings (drilled out 3/8" ID brass fittings to 7/16") and 3/8" hose to get better flow.


2008 Hyundai Accent 1.6L 5 sp manual hatchback
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Track 2L Turbo 6sp manual
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: exranger06] #4354043 03/14/17 06:39 PM
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Trav Offline
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Originally Posted By: exranger06
Just because steel is more "durable" doesn't mean it's the best choice for the application. Just how durable does the line need to be? Going with that logic, the line should be 1/4" thick wall tubing because it's more durable. Who cares that it's ridiculously thick, expensive, hard to install, etc?

This reminds me of when I replaced the metal gas tank in my Bronco with a plastic one. Even though the plastic is less "durable," it is plenty strong enough to hold gas in it, just about all cars nowadays have plastic tanks and they work just fine, and best of all, the plastic one won't rust like the metal one did (which is why I needed to replace it). In that case, plastic is clearly the superior material.


Flares on aluminum lines can be real problematic, they gall and crack easier if your not very careful, there is also the issue of corrosion between the line and steel fitting. For these reasons they are not as good or as durable as steel.
Neither is as good a SS but that going over the top. NiCopp would be a excellent choice for its ease of bending and corrosion resistance, flares are also not an issue, it is much more malleable than aluminum.

Edit: Neither NiCopp or aluminum should be used on any vehicle used commercially or off road, they are too soft and damage easily.

Last edited by Trav; 03/14/17 06:41 PM.

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Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4354304 03/14/17 11:05 PM
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TheLoneRanger Offline OP
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Thanks for all the replies.
The vehicle is a 96 Jeep Cherokee, with the stupid plastic/O-ring press-in fittings that are weeping. Figured to just replace the old lines along with new fittings.

Trav, that's a nice cooler setup with steel lines and fittings.

After reading all the posts, I'm leaning toward staying with steel lines.
Thanks again for all the tips and opinions.


Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.....
Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4354325 03/14/17 11:58 PM
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Trav Offline
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Yes that cooler is one of the best kept little secrets. Its a larger OE GM car cooler that sold on Amazon for $57 but has been discontinued, there are some around if you look.
It has long brackets making it almost a universal fit with very minor bracket mods. GM makes the steel lines for it with a rubber hose end, or you can use threaded barbs.

Here's the best part, its made by Modine in Canada and is really well made, I use it with a fluid thermostat.

Part# is ACDelco 10275682


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Re: Steel vs Aluminum Trans Cooler Lines? [Re: TheLoneRanger] #4354917 03/15/17 08:08 PM
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Looks like the trans cooler from '94-'96 9C1 Caprice & Impala SS.


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