Flushing Your Radiator

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 15, 2012)

Flushing your radiator is a simple project that you can accomplish in a single afternoon, and perhaps one of the most important. Unfortunately, most people don't think about doing this until it is way too late. When it is not done properly or regularly (at least every six months or so) your radiator can become clogged with dirt, debris, or other kinds of gunk that will make it operate at less than ideal levels. To help protect your engine, and keeping it running properly, follow these directions for flushing your radiator.


  • Garden hose
  • Disposable plastic container
  • Funnel
  • Safety glasses
  • Premixed antifreeze
  • Large catch pan


  1. Cool and cover engine. Before you begin flushing the radiator you need to allow it to cool completely. This will make sure that you do not accidentally get burned while working with the fluids. In addition, take the time to disconnect the battery so that there is no electricity running through the system. Cover the engine either using an old blanket or a commercial engine cover to help protect from splash back.
  2. Remove the radiator cap, inspect the hoses. Once your engine has cooled down completely, you can go ahead and remove the radiator cap. At about the same time that you do this, go ahead and begin inspecting the hoses that are attached to the radiator. Make sure that they are in good working condition, and if they are not then replace them as soon as possible.
  3. Drain and inspect radiator. Place the catch pan underneath the drain plug, and then carefully remove the drain plug. Leave the catch pan in place until all the fluid has been removed. As the fluid is coming out, take a look at it to see wither or not it is unusually dirty or if it is relatively clean. If it is clean, you can go ahead and flush the radiator; if it is dirty, you will need to inspect the exterior of the radiator for any signs of rust or other problems. Once you have finished draining the cooling fluid, empty the catch pan into a large plastic container for later disposal. Replace the catch pan under the drain plug.
  4. Flush the radiator. Put the hose into the top of the radiator where the cap is normally located. This can usually be accomplished by simply placing the end of the hose into the top of the radiator. Turn the water on, and allow it to run through your system. This help flush out everything. Keep an eye on the catch pan, and empty as necessary until the water is clear. One method for doing this is to replace the drain plug, and then fill up the system with cold water, and then drain as normal. Either way will work just fine.
  5. Replace everything, and refill. After the water comes out clean, be sure to replace everything that you removed earlier. Be sure that you don't forget to replace anything that you may have removed, and then refill the radiator with some premixed antifreeze. When you have finished refilling the radiator, replace the radiator cap and remove the engine cover.
  6. Start the engine, and test your work. Start your engine, and let it go for about five to ten minutes. Check the ground for any signs of leaks from the radiator system, and if you find any fix them as soon as you can. The final step in checking your work is to drive around your block a couple of times. Once again, check under the car when you have stopped to ensure that there are no leaks.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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