Car Maintenance: Flushing Your Radiator
Maintaining the radiator and cooling system in your car is a simple task but can go a long way towards keeping your vehicle in good shape. A poorly maintained radiator cooling system is susceptible to rust, corrosion, and sediment that will degrade your cooling system and could lead to engine damage or a breakdown. In general, it's good to flush out all the old coolant from your radiator and replace it once a year.
Follow the steps below to flush and replenish your coolant, using the following tools:
- Screwdriver or wrench
- Cloth rag
- Radiator Flush solution
- New Coolant
- Large container for old coolant
1. Park your car and let your engine cool for a few hours before starting work.
2. Open your hood and find the radiator cap, which is located at the top of the radiator (your vehicle manual can help you locate it). Remove the cap.
3. Locate your radiator's drain plug, which should be along the bottom of your radiator. It will be either a screw plug, bolt plug or a simple drain valve. Position your large container under the drain, then remove the drain plug and let all the used coolant drain into your container. Don't let any coolant spill on the ground!
4. After all of the coolant has been drained from the radiator, replace the drain plug. Add the radiator flush solution to the radiator, then top it off with water. Replace and tighten the radiator cap.
5. Start your engine and let it run until it gets to its normal operating temperature. Turn your heater on and move the temperature control to the hottest position. Let the car run for about 10 minutes with the heater on.
6. Turn off your engine and wait for your car to cool off. Wait until your radiator cap or radiator is no longer hot to the touch.
7. Repeat steps 2-4, and let the radiator flush solution drain out of the car. when all the solution has drained out, replace the drain plug.
8. Fill the radiator with a 50/50 mixture of new coolant and water. Some coolants come pre-mixed for your convenience, so check to see which type you have.
9. When the radiator is full, replace and tighten your coolant cap. You're ready to roll! Be sure to take your old coolant to your local auto shop for recycling.
10. As a follow-up tip, check your coolant level in your radiator a day or two later to make sure it's still full.