How to Flush a Radiator
If you want to keep your vehicle operating at optimum levels, you’ll want to consider performing a regular radiator flush every two years. Over time, sludge and rust will build up in your radiator, leaving your vehicle less efficient.
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The steps below will walk you through how to flush a radiator.
- Make sure the engine is cool. It’s best if your car hasn’t been running for a minimum of two hours. This is critical, as the coolant can become incredibly hot when the car is running, and you’ll risk injury if the coolant comes in contact with your skin.
- Locate the radiator. You can usually find the radiator under the hood, and closest to you when you’re in front of the car.
- Clean the fins. The fins are the metal slats on the front and back of the radiator. Use soapy water and a nylon brush to remove debris and dead bugs from the slats. Be sure to brush in the direction of the fins and not against, as this could cause damage.
- Drain the radiator. Center a drainage pan under the radiator’s drain valve, then pull the handle on the drain valve (also known as a petcock). Be sure you wear gloves for this step, as radiator coolant is toxic. Put a lid on the drainage pan and set it aside.
- Check that your radiator is in good condition.
- Make sure the cap maintains pressure between the seal and the spring.
- Make sure the two hoses that run from the radiator are not cracked or otherwise damaged, and that the clamps are not rusty.
- Rinse the radiator. Using a garden hose, fill the radiator with water through the fill spout until it’s full. Once it’s full, remove the petcock and let the water drain.
- Add new coolant. Combine 50 percent distilled water and 50 percent antifreeze, then pour the mixture into the radiator.
- Bleed the radiator. Leave the cap off to avoid pressure build-up, and start the car. Let it run for 15 minutes – as the coolant heats up, air voids will exit the radiator and there will be more room for coolant. Add additional coolant to fill the radiator, and then close it up!
Now that you know how to flush a radiator, you have no excuse not to keep your car in tip-top shape. What are you waiting for?
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