Best Grille for Cooling: Factory Ford vs. the Aftermarket
If your truck runs hot under load, increasing airflow to the radiator can help. But not all aftermarket grilles are guaranteed to offer better flow.
Regardless of what Ford truck you drive, every F-Series sold in the last 30+ years has some sort of aftermarket grille option. Most of these grilles offer a unique look compared to the stock design, but some people believe that these aftermarket components can offer better air flow into the engine bay. At the same time, some people disagree that all of the aftermarket designs really do offer improved cooling flow, creating an interesting discussion without any concrete numbers.
Mesh Grille on a New Super Duty
This topic was recently brought up by “CO Wapiti” when he added an aftermarket grille to his brand new Ford Super Duty pickup and made a thread about the swap. He explained why he made the swap to the new design, along with including the image above of his mean-looking heavy duty Ford truck.
“As we all know, these trucks run hot when towing. I really think the factory grills cut a lot of airflow which doesn’t help out in the cooling department. I see photos on the forum where guys are installing huge LED lights in the few areas of the factory grill that actually let air through. The more accessories you put on the more airflow you lose. This was my answer for maximum cooling with all of the accessories I wanted on my truck. The grill is powder coated stainless steel mesh made by Royalty Core. Even with all of the goodies on my truck, I probably have more airflow than when the truck was bone stock. Plus it just looks kick butt too getting rid of that awful fake chrome.”
So in short, the OP added this mesh grille to improve cooling flow and in the process, he gave his new Super Duty a far more aggressive look. However, several members were quick to speak up against the suggestion that this new grille offered better cooling flow.
The OP also shared the “before” picture of his truck with the stock grille.
The Skeptics Speak
After the OP suggested that the aftermarket grille helped his new Ford Super Duty run cooler, a handful of members questioned his information.
“Jschira” was the first to speak up:
So, you really are just guessing. No real facts. No real airflow data.
“jimzpsd” was next:
I agree, these trucks are wind tunnel tested to allow enough air flow for sufficient cooling. That aftermarket grill looks as effective as a brick wall, I see the air going around it…………not through it. Perhaps at a stand still and the fan on, but not going down the road. Looks nice though.
“Buliwyf” was one of the most direct with his input:
LOLz. You might want to look up how much air flow a screen blocks.
On the larger generator systems I spec, with a screen far more open than the one in the OP’s picture, de-rates an air inlet, or outlet, by 50%. I have to double the size of the radiator duct outlet if it’s screened. I think I have to increase duct size 30% for louvers.
The OEM grill is more like louvers than that screen. I’ll bet that aftermarket grill flows less air than the stock one. Sorry. It looks way more open, but I doubt it is.
Do any of these aftermarket companies test the air pressure difference in front of the truck compared to under the hood with a simple manometer. Put one end under the hood, the other end in front of the grill. Go 80mph, the one with the least movement wins. My indoor gens have to a pass a manometer test to prove that the in and out airflow is adequate. And to prove that you can open the door of the room while the gens are running. (only a few ” of pressure can apply hundreds of pounds of force to a door)
“c502cid” offered some inside information from the aftermarket world:
There is a lot of truth to this. In the early 2000’s when billet grills were all the rage I was the National Sales Manager for one of the better known companies in the industry. We never did real life air flow bench testing but being based in Bakersfield CA we had a lot of real world testing of what designs were more restrictive and caused overheating. Many of the mesh designs were restrictive no matter how open they looked. No I don’t have anything measured to judge this, just past experience.
Great looking Superduty btw!
Unfortunately, no one who participates in the thread has more concrete proof of aftermarket grilles offering better air flow than the stock Ford grille, but pretty much everyone in the thread agrees that he OP’s truck looks great with the new face.
If you want to offer your input on the grille debate, click here – especially if you have any sort of hard data supporting one grille or the other.