How to flush a radiator

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A functioning radiator is essential to keep your car from overheating. Liquid coolant, heated by the engine, is funneled through the radiator, where it is cooled by heat exchange. Over time, sludge builds up inside the radiator and the coolant becomes less effective, which will hurt your engine performance and gas mileage. Flushing your radiator regularly, usually once every two to five years, will keep you car running smoothly.


How to flush a radiator

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A functioning radiator is essential to keep your car from overheating. Liquid coolant, heated by the engine, is funneled through the radiator, where it is cooled by heat exchange. Over time, sludge builds up inside the radiator and the coolant becomes less effective, which will hurt your engine performance and gas mileage. Flushing your radiator regularly, usually once every two to five years, will keep you car running smoothly.


Step One

Turn the engine off and allow it to cool to non-operating temperatures. Cover the engine compartment, with the exception of the radiator, with an approved tarp or blanket in order to eliminate splashes on the rest of the engine block. Remove the radiator cap. Remember to do this only after the engine has cooled completely.


Step Two

Check the radiator hoses for damage. Feel the hoses for signs of brittleness or excessive moisture.


Step Three

Drain the liquid inside the radiator into a plastic tray or tub. If the liquid is fairly clean, proceed with the flush. If it is unusually dirty, check the exterior of the radiator for excessive rust or damage.


Step Four

Flush the radiator with cold water from a garden hose. Let the water overflow the top of the radiator until it comes out clean.


Step Five

Perform a reverse flush by replacing the radiator cap on the top, and removing the cap on the bottom of the radiator. Again, let the hose run until the water comes out clean.


Step Six

Attach the garden hose to the engine cooling jacket and flush it out in the same manner. Replace all hoses and the bottom radiator cap once the water has completely drained.


Step Seven

Add coolant to your radiator to the level recommended by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Inspect the radiator cap for excessive rust. If it looks fine, screw it back on the top of the radiator.


Step Eight

Remove the engine cover, start your engine and watch for leaks. If you do not see drops of coolant developing on the ground beneath the car, take it for a spin around the block to ensure you have flushed your radiator correctly.


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