Maintaining the Radiator

Collbros, Radiator
Collbros, Radiator diagram

The Radiator

The radiator is an important part of do-it-yourself car maintenance responsibilities. The radiator contains the coolant that helps to keep the engine cool and it holds the antifreeze that keeps the engine from freezing in the wintertime. If you live in cold climates, you will want to change the coolant every year. If you live in warm climates, however, it is only necessary to do so every other year.


If the car is cooled down, remove the radiator cap by unscrewing it. On the bottom of the radiator, you will also see a small plug that looks like a T-shaped bolt. Before removing this, though, place a large container underneath it to catch the fluid that will be pouring out. The container will need to be able to hold about five gallons. Remove the bottom plug so that the radiator fluid will empty into the container.  


Once the radiator is emptied, replace the bottom cap. Fill the radiator with water. You will need to add water until you can see it or until it reaches the fill-line on the radiator. Replace the top cap and turn the car on. Let the engine run for a few minutes until the water circulates throughout. Afterwards, let the engine cool off and repeat the entire procedure again.


Once you have repeated the procedure and you have drained the radiator for the second time, add a mixture of ½ water and ½ antifreeze to the radiator. Also, fill the reserve container to the side with the same mixture. Start the car with the top radiator cap. Let it run until you see the radiator “burp.” You will probably hear this because it will sound like pockets of air released from the system. The coolant level will go down so you will need to refill it until it reaches the top again. Replace the top radiator cap and dispose of the coolant in a safe and proper manner.

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