Radiator Flush 101: A Scheduled Performance Maintenance Chore Explained

Posted 12/24/18

Dirt happens. That law of physics applies not only to us but our radiators. As the radiator does its job, it produces gunk and deposits that clog its insides over time. Eventually, it can clog your cooling system. That’s why you need to flush your radiator seasonally.

A radiator flush does more than just change the radiator fluid. It empties out the old, flushes it with a new cycle, and then replaces what’s flushed through with new fluid. It’s like an annual bath, a spring cleaning of your car’s cooling system.

Drain the Radiator

The first step is to drain the old radiator fluid. Locate the radiator drain plug. Consult your owner’s manual or look your particular car up on the Internet. Make sure to put your drain pan underneath the radiator before you pull the plug. It can get messy, fast.

And please note: radiator fluid is delicious but absolutely poisonous to pets. Any amount, even a small dab, can be fatal. Be sure to gather up all fluid and not leave a drop.

Add the Flushing Solution

Once the old fluid has drained, replace the radiator plug. Make sure the engine is completely cool and remove the radiator cap. Add the flush solution, and then top the radiator off with water.

Replace the radiator cap and tighten it on tight. Next, start the car and let it warm up. Turn the heater on high and let it idle for 10 minutes. Turn off the car and let it cool down. If the radiator cap or metal on the radiator is still hot, it’s too hot to open. Go back in the house. You deserve more beer.

Drain the Solution

Once the engine has cooled, open the drain again and let the solution drain. You’ll probably need a second drain container, FYI. Always recycle the coolant. Never pour it on the ground.

Refill with New Coolant

The last step is to refill the radiator with fresh coolant. Remember to replace the plug. Prepare a mixture of 50/50 coolant to water ratio. Pour it in. Tighten all the caps, and you’ve just completed a radiator flush. That’s one scheduled maintenance chore to scratch off your list.

Now, about those brakes?

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