Flushing Your Radiator: Why and When to Change Your Coolant

Flushing your radiator is an important task when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. Once coolant gets old, it starts to pick up deposits from within the engine.

Not everyone changes their coolant often enough to prevent the need for flushing. However, if you change your coolant before it gets bad, then you can simply refill it with new coolant.

Still, not everyone has the cash to spend on things that aren’t broken. Unfortunately, some people will ignore proper maintenance tasks in an attempt to save money.

But, keeping your cooling system working properly will save you more money in the long run. Plus, it’s actually not a difficult job, and you can save money by doing it yourself.

It’s not difficult, but it can definitely get messy, so be careful and be ready with a pan to catch the coolant.

What Happens if you Never Flush Your Radiator?

When you refuse to change the coolant in your vehicle it becomes less effective, losing its ability to resist corrosion. If it can’t resist corrosion, it will eventually damage metal in your engine, such as any aluminum, copper or steel parts.

Old coolant is often the cause of damaged water pumps and clogged radiators. During winter, freezing temperatures can actually make your old coolant freeze. Changing the fluid before it goes bad is crucial, as it will make driving your vehicle safe for your engine.

Almost all coolants are made with a water and ethylene or propylene glycol mixture. There are people who literally just put water in their radiator, but this is a terrible thing to do. Coolant has additives in it that prevent corrosion, as well as lubricants and anti-foaming agents to prevent damage to your engine.

Clogged radiators and damaged water pumps are common, but there are other components that will get damaged, such as your heater core. Want to stay warm in the winter? Don’t let your heater core get damaged.

There is no need to flush your radiator with a cleaning agent if you never let your coolant get too old that rust and debris form inside the radiator.

So Your Coolant is Old and You Need to Flush Your Radiator

If your coolant is too far gone and you notice debris in the coolant reservoir then it’s time to flush your radiator. Prestone makes a great radiator cleaner, and it won’t even cost you $5.

Recommended Radiator Flush: Prestone Radiator Flush and Cleaner

When To Change Your Coolant

How often you change your coolant will depend on the type of coolant in your car. Typical green coolants should be replaced every couple years. Putting a long-life coolant in your vehicle is ideal, as it will feature more protective additives and some last 10 years.

For example, Toyota has Pink Super Long Life Coolant that last 120 months or 10 years. Check with your owner’s manual to see what coolant is in your vehicle. Many modern cars come with a version of long life coolant and will have specific maintenance recommendations in the owner’s manual.

The idea is to change your coolant before it starts to damage your engine. If the previous owner of your vehicle never changed the coolant or you’ve never changed it after 100k miles, then consider performing a quick radiator flush.

Recommended Coolant for Your Vehicle

Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted – 5 year or 150k mile guarantee

Toyota Long Life Antifreeze Coolant

Nissan Blue Long Life

Hyundai Long Life Coolant

Subaru Long Life Coolant

Mitsubishi Super Long Life Coolant Premium

How To Test Your Coolant

There is actually an accurate way to test your coolant and it doesn’t require much effort. Part stores sell an antifreeze tester for less than $20. This will tell you if your coolant is still in good condition or not. However, as we said before, it’s better to change it before it goes bad.

Recommended Antifreeze Tester

Your antifreeze tester will most likely come with instructions, however here is a video showing you how it’s done…

Conclusion: Flushing Your Radiator is Cheap and Easy!

Changing your coolant before it goes bad might sound silly from a financial standpoint. However, the reality is it will actually save you money in the long run. Once the fluid goes bad, it can and will damage other more expensive parts, such as your water pump and radiator.

When you drain the coolant be observant, as finding debris and junk in the coolant coming out of your car is a sign that you need to flush your radiator before it gets out of control.

Still, having to flush your radiator is not so bad, and the cleaning product we recommend cost less than $5.

Buying an antifreeze mix in gallons is also way cheaper than paying a mechanic to replace your water pump. This is common sense once you understand the importance of your vehicle’s cooling system.

Air, compression, fuel and spark make the car run, but the cooling system keeps it running.

When your vehicle heats up due to issues with the cooling system, serious damage will occur. Blown head gaskets, cracked heads, corrosion within the engine, etc.

For most people, a car is retired and sold as is once the engine is blown. So, are you going to change your coolant before damage occurs?

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