Radiator and Transmission Maintenance

Radiator Cleaning in 8 Easy Steps


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Radiator cleaning is an essential part of car maintenance that will yield positive results in terms of performance and service life. Most car owners neglect radiator maintenance as part of regular inspection and only pay attention once problems begin to persist in the cooling system. Engine overheat is a problem mostly associated with old cars, and regular radiator service will prevent such a hassle. It is easy to maintain a clean radiator, and these eight steps will ensure proper operation and optimum performance at all times.

What You Need:

  • Distilled water (at least one to two liters depending on radiator capacity)
  • Engine coolant or antifreeze
  • Radiator flush
  • Hose and water source
  • Heat resistant or water proof hand gloves
  • Cotton rag or towel

Step 1 - Preparation

Park the car in a well ventilated and well lit area. Make sure that the engine is cool before starting.

Step 2 - Drain Some Coolant

Access the radiator drain valve and slowly remove to drain excess coolant and water from the system. It would be a good idea to drain at least a liter of water from the system. Let the coolant flow and re-tighten the drain valve.

Step 3 - Pour Radiator Flush

Open the radiator cap and pour the entire contents of the radiator flush (at least 250 to 500 ml) inside the radiator. Close the cap and re-tighten.

Step 4 - Start the Engine

Start the engine and let it warm for five to ten minutes. Do not drive or rev the engine. Turn off the engine after reaching ideal operating temperature.

Step 5 - Drain All the Coolant

Now that the coolant inside the radiator is hot, take care when handling various engine components by wearing gloves. Let the engine cool for about five minutes and drain the entire contents of the radiator by again removing the drain valve.

Step 6 - Flush with Water

Open the radiator cap and insert the garden hose. Use a hand towel because the radiator cap may be too hot to touch. Connect the hose to a water supply and let running water pass through the radiator and onto the drain valve. Do this for about five minutes to properly flush the system.

Step 7 - Refill the Radiator 

Let excess water drain and tighten the drain valve. Pour fresh coolant and distilled water into the radiator. Close the cap tightly. Check for any leaks on the drain valve before proceeding. A 50/50 ratio of coolant and distilled water is an ideal ratio. Consult your vehicle manual for the right amount and concentration recommended.

Step 8 - Start the Car

Set aside all materials used and start the car. Let it warm to ideal operating temperature and observe for any leaks in the system. Close the hood and drive the car, and observe the temperature needle on the console for any changes that may occur. Stop the car and open the hood again to recheck the system for any leaks.

Remember to wipe any excess coolant that may have spilled onto the system. If the engine temperature needle rises above half on the console indicator, consult a qualified mechanic or service center for radiator service and diagnostic procedures.

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