Coolant Change for New Vehicle Owners
If you’ve got the desire and the patience to begin to learn to maintain your own vehicle, then not only will you save time but also cash. Changing coolant isn’t a difficult or particularly skilled task and it’s a good place to begin on the learning curve.
There are a few things you will need to do the job:
- Safety goggles
- Protective gloves
- Appropriate old clothing including knee pads
- Large bucket
- Garden Hose
- Clean dry rag or cloth
- Replacement coolant
- System flush liquid (preferred option to water alone)
- Receptacle for used coolant
- Coolant and 50/50 Coolant
It’s important to remember that car maintenance can sometime be a dangerous activity; cars and motors are by their very nature risky things and so you should always follow the correct safety procedures to avoid injury.
Never check or change the coolant whilst the vehicle is hot. Your vehicle must be stationary and the engine should have been turned off for at least 45 minutes before you attempt to change coolant.
Always wear your safety goggles and your protective gloves. Before you begin, check the vehicle maintenance manual for any special cooling system information and instructions. Remember that every vehicle is different.
For the correct disposal of coolant check with your local authority for their guidelines; never pour coolant down the drains, in septic tanks or on the ground as it can cause significant threat or damage to people and to wildlife.
Changing your coolant
This procedure should take between 60 to 90 minutes depending on your vehicle size and type.
Firstly you’ll need to locate your coolant reservoir and radiator and remove both caps, ensuring the vehicle is cool to cold before you begin. Next, locate the radiator drain plug which is beneath the radiator; place your bucket underneath it. If your vehicle does not have a radiator drain valve or it is difficult to remove you’ll need to check your vehicle maintenance manual for further information.
Open the radiator drain plug and drain the system into your bucket to release the old coolant and any rust from the system. Be extremely careful not to get the coolant on your skin or in your eyes. If you do, rinse immediately with water and seek medical attention.
Once the system is completely drained, replace the drain plug and pour the old coolant into and appropriate receptacle for correct disposal. Your local reclamation centre will be able to help you with disposal.
What condition are the radiator hoses in?
Next Check your radiator system’s hoses; what kind of condition are they in? If they have perished or are brittle or cracked you will need to replace them. Now it’s time to pour your flushing liquid into the radiator and top with water to the cold line on your overflow reservoir; put both caps back on and start your engine. Turn your heater on high and run the vehicle until it reaches its normal running temperature, then turn the vehicle off and allow it to cool down completely. Follow the draining procedure until completely empty.
Now fill with water only, start the engine and run the vehicle as above; turn off and again allow it to cool down completely; then drain the system as above. It’s important to remember to check your maintenance manual for the cooling system capacity so you can work out 50/50 ratio water to coolant.
Fill your radiator system with the correct amount of coolant and then top it with water, making sure to check the overflow tank level is at the cold/low level. Start your vehicle and run as above. Turn it off and allow it to cool down completely before continuing; then check the overflow tank and top if necessary with 50/50 coolant/water.
You may need to check the maintenance manual for information on a radiator bleed valve to remove trapped air from your system after the flush although not all vehicles require this. After you’ve run your vehicle for a day or so make sure you check your coolant levels and top up if required.
Easy job to do
Although changing coolant in your vehicle might seem complex, it’s actually quite simple; as long as you stick to the safety procedures and be sure to take care with dangerous or toxic liquids, you have every reason to attempt this and when you’ve done it successfully once – you’ll never look back!