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Video:How to Drain the Radiator and Cooling System

with Vinny O'Dare

If your car radiator seems to be working improperly, you may need to check on the fluids. Learn how to drain the radiator and car cooling system to keep your ride running clean and smooth.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Drain the Radiator and Cooling System

Hi, I'm Vinny O'Dare from Yorktown Tire and Auto Care. Today for About.com I'm going to show you how to drain the coolant from your radiator.

Remove the Radiator Cap when the Car is Cold

The first thing you want to do is absolutely make sure the car is cold. These systems build up a lot of pressure and when it's hot and you try to take the radiator cap off it's going to explode on you. So this system is cold, I can tell there's no pressure just by squeezing on the hose. You want to take the radiator cap off. You push down and turn.

Drain Old Radiator Fluid and Refill

Each car is different- you'll need from one to two gallons of antifreeze to fill the system. Always use a catch basin for your antifreeze. Save your old bottles, so you can put your old antifreeze in them and bring it to a service center that recycles. The next thing you're going to want to do is find the petcock on your radiator. It's at the bottom of the radiator so you'll have to jack up your car safely and find it. Loosen that up and drain it into a catch basin. Put a pair of pliers on it and give it a little turn. It should loosen right up. Put the catch basin under the car, loosen the petcock and allow the fluid to drain in.

Once your fluid is drained close the petcock and now you're ready to fill the system. One of the best ways to do this is with a spill free funnel. You can pick one up at an auto parts store for around twenty dollars. It has all adapters for different sized radiators. Find the one that fits your car, put it on, push down and turn it to the lock. If the radiator necks on an angle use this little fitting to straighten it out. And when you're ready to fill your system you want to use a fifty fifty solution, half antifreeze half water. There are different kinds of antifreeze. The one I have here today is an extended life antifreeze so you have to change it a little less often. You want to fill the system and fill your spill free funnel about half way and then you're ready to start the car.

Turn the Car's Heat on to Check the Radiator

All cars are different--some cars have electric cooling fans and some cars have a fan that's turned by a belt. You never ever want to stick your hands in this area when the car is running. You're going to want to let the car run for ten to fifteen minutes to make sure the thermostat opens. It's always a good idea to put the heat on and make sure you're getting heat from the inside. That's a good sign that the thermostat is open and the water is circulating. The car will suck in antifreeze as it's needed. With the spill free funnel after it doesn't need anymore antifreeze all the bubbles will stop and you'll have a little circulation going on inside. When you're done turn the car off. It comes with this tool you want to squeeze the upper radiator hose to force a little more antifreeze up the funnel, put the plug in it, take it off and you can put your extra right back into the container.

The last thing you want to do is take your fitting out, put your radiator cap on. It's always push down and turn. Another good idea is to check your overflow container. If it looks contaminated they're usually held in by just a couple of bolts. Take them out, drain that into a catch basin and refill it. Remember to always recycle your coolant. Put it right back into the container and take it to any auto repair shop that recycles. For About dot com, I'm Vinny O'Dare.
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