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DIY: How to flush your radiator

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    • Jun 03, 2008 3:58:17 pm
    Ok, per request, here's a DIY on how to flush your radiator.

    What you will need:
    -Flat tip screw driver
    -1 gallon of your preferred NON-DILUTED coolant
    -1 bottle of radiator flush (autozone sells them)
    -3 gallons of DISTILLED water (distilled water has no calcium or magnesium that will leave deposits and scale in your block and radiator)
    -10mm socket and ratchet
    -A large tub or bucket to catch the coolant
    -jack and jack stands if you wish to lift car or have to (I do)

    Steps:
    1: Start your car and let it run for approximately 1 minute WITH your heat at maximum temp and blowing at maximum speed
    [i]This opens the heater control valve and allows all coolant in the block, radiator AND heater core to circulate)
    2: Shut engine off and let sit for about 1 minute

    3: Locate radiator cap (circled in red) and twist off to the left
    4: In same picture, locate fill line for reserve tank (green. Carefully pull away from radiator neck and keep tip up (coolant will come out if it drops below the level of the reserver tank...gravity)
    5: Loosen and remove 10mm nut in blue and remove reserve tank and hose from vehicle (drain separately)
    6: Remove splash pan from under driver's side of front bumper (use screw driver on plastic rivets and 10mm socket on screws). You will see the ones to loosen (no picture at this time)

    7: Position tub/bucket under drain valve located on driver's side BOTTOM of radiator (picture above)...coolant will rush out so just let it do its thing.
    8: When coolant is all out, close bottom drain valve.

    9: Pour radiator flush into radiator cap neck and top entire radiator off with distilled water (will take almost 1 full gallon)...Place fill hose and reserve tank back in car but no need to bolt it in place. Just reconnect the hose to the neck of the radiator.
    10: Close radiator cap and start car. Let idle with heat blowing maximum for 10 minutes.
    11: After 10 minutes, let sit for 5 minutes to cool and CAREFULLY open radiator cap, remove fill hose from reserve and loosen bottom drain plug to drain out fluid.
    12: Close drain plug, refill entire radiator with pure distilled water and perform steps 9-11 (without adding more flush chemical)...this will cleanse all detergent out from engine block, heater core and radiator.

    13: Create your mixture of 50/50 coolant and water in an empty gallon jug (red is coolant and grey is distilled water)
    14: Making sure lower drain plug is closed and reinstalling reserve tank and hose completely, pour contents of mixture into radiator neck until no more will fit.
    15: WITHOUT CLOSING RADIATOR CAP, start car and let idle for 10 minutes with heat blasting at maximum...In this step, you will "burp" the system of air pockets. As the coolant gets sucked down, just slowly keep adding your mixture to the radiator. After about 10 minutes of adding fluid (you'll see bubbles come up in that time a good bit), close radiator cap and fill reserve tank to proper level (about 2 inches from top)
    16: Make sure all fittings are closed and temperature is between H and L and you are done.


    Hope this helps everyone.
    • Jun 03, 2008 4:24:29 pm
    I'm at 76,800 miles and my coolant is low. Instead of just adding more pre-diluted coolant, I'd rather flush the old coolant and debris out of the cooling system to ensure long life of the engine.

    Thanks Web, I will use this.
    • Jun 04, 2008 3:59:04 am
    Orin wrote:
    I'm at 76,800 miles and my coolant is low. Instead of just adding more pre-diluted coolant, I'd rather flush the old coolant and debris out of the cooling system to ensure long life of the engine.

    Thanks Web, I will use this.



    Might as well. It's definitely something everyone should do.
    • Jun 04, 2008 4:37:25 am
    Very nice, Web!! I see this coming up in the future with my next oil change and tranny fluid swap. Thanx again! :mrgreen:
    • Jun 04, 2008 7:18:00 am
    nice DIY writeup .... the only thing I'd add is that I use white vinegar .... much cheaper and it works just as well. I use half a gallon of vinegar per flush and do that twice, then water 5 times to clear it out. I use the distilled for the final fill only.
    • Jun 04, 2008 7:20:45 am
    @ how many miles should this be done?
    • Jun 04, 2008 7:36:38 am
    ^ I'd say a good rule for those of you that have the factory coolant is to consider this around 70,000 miles. At this time it's quite possible to have debris and junk flowing through your coolant.

    If you run a normal (green) 50/50 mix, you should do this once a year.

    You flush to get rust, dirt & debris out of your cooling system so it does not fail on you later in the car's life.
    • Jun 04, 2008 4:00:59 pm
    I did mine at 65k. A lot of people go by time rather than usage (mileage) but I always go by usage.
    • Jun 04, 2008 4:45:06 pm
    It's HIGHLY recommend that you use Toyota's prediluted pink coolant. If you have any corrosion issues down the road with the the green stuff toyota will not warranty it. The pink coolant is formulated to not corrode the aluminum heads. I think that the maintainance guide calls for a flush and refill @ 100K milles
    • Jun 04, 2008 5:07:51 pm
    nicely done web......

    my opnion about coolant flushes...they should be done around 60k or roughly every 6 months depending on the climate conditions that you are driving in. or whenever it starts to look dirty... sometimes like a crystal flake kinda look will sit on top of the coolant and thats a good indication to change it! thats just a few things that i have noticed in all the time ive been wrenchin
    • Jun 04, 2008 5:36:25 pm
    I am not worried about warranty things with my car b/c I know nothing will be covered as soon as they look at my vehicle and engine bay anyways. I've done plenty of flushes on multiple cars and swapped fluids around but ONLY after completely flushing the entire system. Mixing fluids is HIGHLY NOT recommended.

    All radiator fluid is basically the same composition and the only reason some last longer than others is due to the amount of glycol they add to it. Due to its lubricating properties, the more glycol, the more lubricity the fluid has. DexCool (orange GM brand) has never given me any issue on any cars that I've used it on as long as the system has been flushed. Had plenty of old customers tell me not to mix it with green fluids b/c it will turn into a gel (that was fun to see in a radiator).


    About the aluminum heads.....GM is almost all aluminum blocks and heads and still uses the DexCool system so that would be safe to use in our car too.
    • Jan 25, 2010 11:07:32 am
    you know this would be great if we could keep pictures up on these DIY's
    • Jan 25, 2010 12:40:23 pm
    yeah, that's the bad thing about Photobucket, one little change and all hell breaks loose.

    Eventually we won't have this problem because members will be able to upload pictures here.
    • Jan 25, 2010 7:27:17 pm
    sweet i want to see how this one is done if picture are uploaded i learn better by pic or seeing it done better than i do just reading it.
    • Jan 27, 2010 10:55:15 am
    nice write up now it needs some pics
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