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Old 02-17-2009, 01:13 AM   #1
Nealcrenshaw
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Default Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

I know its easier to bend. Would it suffice? Or should i just use steel tubing.I'm going to replace them soon.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

Use steel tubing, copper my work, but I have never seen it used...the flares may be too soft with copper. depending on what the car is(most trans. lines are high pressure hose and steel line) the original equipment can be real cheap.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

How do you feel about fuel lines with copper? I know brakes are out of the questions w/copper.I appreciate the PM you sent the other day as well.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

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Originally Posted by Nealcrenshaw View Post
How do you feel about fuel lines with copper? I know brakes are out of the questions w/copper.I appreciate the PM you sent the other day as well.
I wouldn't use copper for fuel line either, why? since I am a professional, I abide by "industry standards", and copper is not used. I've never discussed why they don't use it? It has not come up. With the exception of "hot rods" all vehicles need to have OEM repairs period, and for inspection purposes. If it is an aftermarket part on a street legal vehicle is need a C.A.R.B. exemption number, or other DOT approval, etc...depends on type of part.

A case in point (the thread about oil drain valves)they void a new car warranty, and no liable professional would use them on customer cars, so in my book they don't belong on a car. Now what people do to their own cars, is "kind of their business" provided it passes inspection.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

^^^
Remember Copper has a free electron in its outer shell,it conducts an electrical charge very well because of this, probably a simple reason it is not used anywhere on car plumbing. A bad ground somewhere and dangerous paths of current could flow where you don't want them to. I know steel is also a conductor, but no where near the affectiveness of Cu-
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

I'm with the "why?" group. You can get new prebent lines for most cars at any parts store, and they're quite cheap.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

The reason i asked was when i used to work for an auto parts store
a few customers would order the copper tubing for fuel line 1/4",-3/8". They told me that it was easier to bend than steel line,which is true. So i didn't know that if some used it for fuel would it be ok for transmission lines.
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

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Originally Posted by Nealcrenshaw View Post
The reason i asked was when i used to work for an auto parts store
a few customers would order the copper tubing for fuel line 1/4",-3/8". They told me that it was easier to bend than steel line,which is true. So i didn't know that if some used it for fuel would it be ok for transmission lines.
For old cars with mechanical fuel pumps, it is probably safe, but it is not common practice. I speak from a liable, industry standpoint. My final answer is (I would not use it on your car, if I were doing the repairs).
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

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I wouldn't use copper for fuel line either, why? since I am a professional, I abide by "industry standards", and copper is not used. I've never discussed why they don't use it? It has not come up. With the exception of "hot rods" all vehicles need to have OEM repairs period, and for inspection purposes. If it is an aftermarket part on a street legal vehicle is need a C.A.R.B. exemption number, or other DOT approval, etc...depends on type of part.

I'm not an expert by a long shot but I would think that two reasons NOT to use copper would be for one that it is too soft and any debris from the road could damage it, and two, galvanic corrosion from mixing the metals.
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Old 02-17-2009, 04:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

I'm thinking I never seen a copper tube flared; they've always had those compression union fittings or whatever they're called.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:11 AM   #11
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

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I'm thinking I never seen a copper tube flared; they've always had those compression union fittings or whatever they're called.
For propane lines they are single flared copper, trans. lines are sometimes double flared and I have never seen copper trans. lines.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

I started driving in '78. My first and second cars were both plymouths built in the late 60s. They had copper transmission lines. I remember it well because my first automotive fix was repairing a trans leak on it. I have seen copper used on many older vehicles for both fuel and transmission. I always thought the main reason for doing away with it was financial. (I could be wrong of course:-))

In the early 70s the value of copper went so high that they started using aluminum wiring in homes. If you can save 25 cents per vehicle, multiplied by the amount of cars built, the costs saving to the mfr can really add up.

Having said all that, I am not sure what the pressures are on late model automatic transmissions. I transmission guy might be able to better answer that.
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:10 AM   #13
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

Not all copper tubing is created equally. The refrigeration lines on my home air conditioner are copper, and they handle high pressure. The reason that copper isn't used on transmission cooler lines is because to get a hard enough copper line is more expensive than using a steel line that is already hard, and costs a lot less. If you need a prebent steel line, then check with www.inlinetube.com for your car application. They have them in both steel and stainless. Usually about $25 for both lines, and $10 shipping. If you have the ability to do good flares, then just buy the steel tubing and make your own. Steel is a bear to bend unless you have the correct tools, so that is why I buy mine prebent.
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

Copper is not used because it easily work hardeneds with vibration. It's just a matter of time before it will fail.
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:29 AM   #15
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

I agree 100% with bigdav160 about the work hardening and a predisposition to fatigue however I work in the RV industry and all propane lines in alot of RV's are copper. I have never in a dozen years heard of of even one fatigue related failure on a copper line. We do secure them very well so I would think if one were to use them in a typical automotive application they'd probably work fine as long as they were well secured so that vibration couldn't cause fatique failures. Also when we go from frame to body or to a tank or any kind of motor we must always use a flex connection (rubber hose) to avoid fatigue. Once all that is said and done it's probably easier too use something else in most regular automotive applications.
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:50 AM   #16
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

you cant flare copper tubing ( itll split on ya)
copper tubing isnt used in gas lines or tranny lines due to cracking etc. due to vibrations and accidents.
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

Flare copper all the time here. If you split it, you are not doing it right. We use copper to carry the current on the Induction Power supplies, up to 2 megawatt.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

Everything rusts out in a few years in Upper Michigan and I replace lines after only 7 or 8 years even on a well cared for car. I now use Cunifer line which I believe meets industry standards for brake, fuel and oil lines.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:31 AM   #19
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

The main reason that you see far more steel than copper brake,fuel and transmission lines, is one of economics.

On high volume production, generally speaking, the more significant part of the cost is in the material not labour content. Therefore you go with the cheapest material i.e. steel.

On low volume production, generally speaking, the more significant part of the cost is in the labour cost, not the materials. Therefore you go with the lowest labour cost i.e. copper.

Copper is subject to work hardening, as is steel to a lesser extent, and is not neccessarily a problem. What does become a serious problem is if the work hardening process is allowed to escalate to where fatigue failure takes place. However, this can be completely prevented by adeqate design of the supports and fixings.

As with any sytem design, success depends on adequate specification of dimmensions, materials and proccesses involved. For example on brake lines, they should always be made up with double flare fittings, never compression fittings, and the copper should contain the correct amount of nickel (cunife).

There is a myth, that you sometimes run across, that says you should not use copper on fuel systems. This came about as a result of problems encountered when using copper in marine fuel systems containing high sulphur marine diesel oil. In these days of very low sulphur fuels and oils the problem is not the same as it once was.

Copper has another advantage over steel in that it requires less protection against corrosion.

All materials are subject to damage from misplaced jacks and jack-stands, and flying stones and obviously should be run in protected areas such as inside frame rails,
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:36 AM   #20
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Default Re: Is it OK to use copper tubing for transmission cooler lines?

No problems with copper going into Al?
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