How to Change Your Coolant

Do you know how to flush your engine's coolant? Do you know what color coolant should be? Here are some tips and instructions on how to change that old fluid out for new. Coolant can be all different colors from red to green to orange and you should change it every two years at the most.

Step 1:
Drain your coolant. Check the user manual to see how much it holds before beginning as vehicles vary. Make sure your engine is cool and then you can get started. Find your cars pressure cap, located on the engine or radiator and look at its overflow reservoir. If it's easy to disconnect then go ahead and empty it. Next, remove the radiator cap and open the radiator drain cock. Let the coolant drain into a pan. Be careful not to dump the antifreeze on the ground as it is hazardous to animals. Next, move the dashboard temperature lever to hot so if your car has a heater coolant control valve it will open. If there is a cap on the reservoir remove it and open the drain cock. If there is no drain cock you should remove the lower radiator hose from the radiator. Draining the radiator should remove 40-45% of the coolant. After the first drain, recap anything you have opened or unhooked and fill the system with water. Start the car and warm up the engine then turn it off and let it cool. Drain the radiator again and fill with water again. Drain once more and you are ready for step two.

Step 2:
Let it bleed. This is the hard part, filling the system. Your system will take a mixture of 50% water and 50% antifreeze to refill. The cooling system has many nooks and crannies and can be difficult to refill. The first step should be to jack up and secure the front end of the car. Check your manual for exact instructions on refilling and also if there are air bleeds on the engine. These bleeds will help let the air out so there are no air bubbles in the cooling system. Fill until the antifreeze starts oozing out the air bleeds. Then close the air bleeds and top with remaining coolant and then plain water. Make sure you turn the temperature control valve back to cold.

Step 3:
Picking the right antifreeze. Antifreeze comes in three colors. Green antifreeze is typically what many people use. It is made with a base chemical called ethylene glycol and the life span in the car is two years or 30,000 miles. Red antifreeze is made only by Toyota and is a specific formula. Make sure you fully drain the red before refilling with another color. Orange antifreeze is for heavy-duty use and contains a rust/corrosion inhibitor. The chemicals in orange make it incompatible with either red or green so you must take caution when changing chemicals. There are some "safer" anti-freezes made with a base of propylene glycol. These brands will do the same job but cost a little more and require a greater quantity to provide the same protection. The "safer" anti-freezes lack the "sweet" taste and aren't as likely to be consumed by pets and toddlers but should they be consumed they are extremely dangerous as well.

Always take care when changing your coolant fluids. If you are unsure of how to change them consult a professional. Remember to take caution when disposing of or storing antifreeze or any hazardous chemicals.