Free Range – Performance Aluminum Radiator R&D – Concept to Completion

Ranger: A person or thing that wanders or ranges over a particular area or domain. In the case of the 2019+ Ford Ranger, a ranger is both person and thing, man and machine, wandering over the domain of a daily city commute and dusty mountain trails. In other words, the Ranger is one of the most capable small trucks on the road today. But even given its competence on varying terrain, some of the Ranger’s components could still be more capable.

The 2.3L EcoBoost under the hood is small but mighty. The heart of a Mustang gives the Ranger a balance of grunt to make it through precarious ravines and fuel efficiency to make sure it can go the distance. But one of the most critical systems keeping the Ranger rolling is the cooling system, specifically the radiator. Strengthening this crucial component in a vehicle’s ecosystem is vital. Falling out of line in terms of temperature, either too hot or too cold, is detrimental to the rest of the engine. Consistency is crucial and precisely the goal we set out to achieve with our new design.

To ensure a comprehensive design for our radiator, we first needed to understand the factory components fully. To do so, we extracted the stock radiator, noting that it follows similar construction methods as most OEMs. The core is a standard tube-and-fin layout, complete with louvered fins to boost heat dissipation. The end tanks are a form-fitting plastic injection molded construction sealed to the core via O-rings and crimping.

Ford’s initial design covers most of the bases but not all of them. On the whole, this run-of-the-mill rad provides adequate cooling for the 2.3L Ecoboost under typical driving conditions. However, once the going gets tough, and there’s a trailer attached, or you’re literally fighting an uphill battle, the stock radiator can struggle a bit. The plastic end tanks are a dream for mass production, but they can wear out over time. Endless heating cycles combined with chassis flex brought on by off-road excursions can result in cracks and leaks.  

Everyone knows that coolant works best when it stays within the cooling system. That’s foremost on our minds when it came to designing the Ranger radiator. We started from the ground up, opting for a full-aluminum construction to ensure long-lasting dependability. Instead of crimping, our all-aluminum end tanks are TIG-welded to our new core for a secure connection. And when we say all-aluminum, we mean it. We left nothing to chance, specifically when it comes to the mounting fixtures, inlet, and outlet. Diving deeper into our quest for durability, we also opted for strutted tubes within our core. These extra supports within the coolant tubes help increase the radiator core’s rigidity and ultimately reduce the risk of leaks due to chassis flex.

Fitment is key when we design our components. Here’s Jason on the process we use to ensure that our new radiator fits perfectly in your Ranger:

Durability and fitment aren’t the only objectives. Delivering consistent coolant temperatures is just as vital to the operation of the EcoBoost. In fact, both the engine oil and transmission depend on the coolant for maintaining proper operating temperatures. Since the radiator’s purpose is to prevent overheating, we wanted to ensure that this new design can improve cooling over the stock unit. To do so, we expanded the core’s thickness, resulting in a 78% increase in core volume and a 51% boost in coolant capacity, both characteristics ideal for improving temperature regulation. We were also able to make precision adjustments to the fin design, allowing us to pack even more rows in there. Compared to Ford’s design, we were able to boost the fin surface area by 95%, allowing us to better promote heat dissipation.

No matter the domain, the Ranger deserves a cooling system that’s consistent with its namesake. The ranger definition doesn’t include stopping to fix leaks or cool off, and we agree. Where Ford built the Ranger to go far, with our final radiator design complete, we expect to help the Ranger go further. Get yours today:

Performance Aluminum Radiator fits Ford Ranger 2.3L, 2019+

Thanks for Reading!

-Nick

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