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Radiators are an integral part of your engine system - unless of course you're driving around a '68 VW Beetle, since these have air cooled engines. For the rest of us, engine cooling is more complicated. As your motor makes power, about half of the energy produced is released as heat. This heat must go somewhere, so it is whisked away from the explosive combustion process by the water pump. The water is pumped through tiny channels in the radiator, and these channels are laid down in sheets, or cores. Radiators can have 2, 3, even 4 cores. The higher the number of radiator cores in a car radiator, the greater the cooling capacity.
As you increase the horsepower of your car, more heat is generated, and a factory radiator cannot keep up with the demand.
A radiator tip: New, high performance radiators can cost upwards of $1000, so before you plunk down your money on an aftermarket radiator, look into getting your factory radiator upgraded with an extra core. This will cost a fraction of a new radiator, and there are many local shops which specialize in this service.