How to flush a car radiator (and the cost of a radiator flush)

If you wish to maintain your vehicle's longevity, it is important that you do regular car maintenance. It is important to know how to flush the radiator of a car, particularly if the goal is to maintain coolness and avoid damage.

This guide will walk you through how to flush your car's radiator. Also, we will examine the price of professional radiator flushes. Also, we look at the warning signs to make sure you are taking care of your engine. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. How to flush the car's radiator
    1. Let the Engine Cool
    2. Drain the coolant
    3. Flush Radiator
    4. Get a new coolant
    5. Try it out!
  2. What’s the Purpose of a Radiator Flush?
  3. Are You in Need of a Radiator Flush?
  4. Coolant Flush Prices
  5. Questions
    1. What is the best way to top-up coolant?
    2. Do you think it is possible to flush the coolant from tap water?
    3. Which is the most effective way to flush radiators?

How to flush the car's radiator

Total Time One hour 30 minutes

  1. Let the Engine Cool

    You must ensure that the coolant is completely cooled down before working with it. You could be in serious danger if you don't cool the engine completely. Hot coolants can cause severe burns and boil your body. 

    You can gather your tools and supplies while you wait. After the engine has cooled down, it is time to open the hood and start the engine. Protective clothing and gloves are recommended to provide maximum protection. 

  2. Drain the coolant

    Remove the radiator cap to let the coolant pressure go down. You will find the radiator drain pecock. It’s found towards the corner of the radiator. To catch the coolant, you will need to place a pan under it.

    You may not need this drain on certain models of cars. If you do, then remove the lower coolant line. Anti-freeze can be very poisonous for pets and they could get severely injured or even killed if it is consumed.

    Let the coolant drain from the petcock/hose. After it is drained, close the petcock to continue the process. Transfer the coolant to a canister that is reliable. You can either drain the petcock or reinstall the hose.

    READ ALSO: Safely dispose of old antifreeze

  3. Flush Radiator

    Once the radiator has filled up, pour distilled water through the cap. Turn the car on for 10 minutes. 

    After your vehicle has cooled, turn off the power source. Continue with the steps above, except that you must open the petcock. Let the water drain from the pan. 

    Coolant flushing machines are used by professionals mechanics to make this job much easier. However, most people don’t have these expensive tools at home.

  4. Get a new coolant

    Look in the owner’s manual to see how much antifreeze or coolant your car needs and have that amount ready. The manufacturer will recommend the correct type of coolant. 

    Place a funnel into the radiator cap outlet and add your antifreeze mix. You can also buy pre-mixed products, although you'll pay more for their convenience. 

    Fill the coolant tank to the limit. You don’t want to overfill the system, or it could lead to an excessive amount of pressure. An expansion tank in your vehicle should always be full.

    RELATED : Can You Mix Different Types Of Coolant? (Which Types?)

  5. Try it out!

    Turn the engine off and then remove the cooling screws from the coolant system. If it has one, close the lid when the coolant is leaking out. Let the engine cool off for a bit, then check the coolant level and refill as necessary. It’s important to get all the air out of the cooling system, otherwise, it can create airlocks which may cause damage to your engine if it overheats.

    Next, you will be able to take the car for a walk around the block in order to keep everything moving. Check the engine for any leaks when you return the vehicle. You should also double-check your engine's levels after it has cooled down again. 

    You can top off the coolant if it has dropped a bit. Once you are finished, you shouldn’t have to put more coolant in until the next service interval. 

    LEARN MORE: 9 Easy Steps to Bleed your Cars Cooling Systems

The estimated cost: 30 USD


  • Distilled water
  • Coolant/Antifreeze

What’s the Purpose of a Radiator Flush?

Radiator is required to dissipate heat from engine. It’s an important part of the coolant system. As time passes, coolant can get contaminated or old. If you allow the old coolant to continue circulating, heat can’t be dissipated, leaving the engine more vulnerable to overheating. This can cause engine corrosion and rust.

You could drain the coolant and refill it, but this doesn’t get all of the old liquid out. It also won’t remove all of the contaminants. This problem is because the coolant you have just added will react with the contaminants and degrade the fluid. 

It’s best to flush out the entire system, ensuring all of the old coolant is pushed out. You can then add new coolant to ensure it performs at peak performance.

A coolant flush can also be used to inspect the cooling system. After draining any old fluid from the system, start flushing it. The cooling system can then be inspected. By doing this, you can identify small leaks and problems early on before they escalate into bigger ones. You can prevent major engine problems by making a quick fix. 

Are You in Need of a Radiator Flush?

A radiator flush should generally be performed every 5 years, 100,000 miles or according to your vehicle's maintenance schedule. There are many types of coolant and intervals for each. You might also need to have your radiator flushed at an alternate time, in addition to the normal service.

If the engine has started overheating, it’s one of the possible symptoms that the engine coolant is contaminated or the radiator clogs. First, check the coolant level to make sure it’s full. Coolant flushing could be the solution if the problem is not caused by any other factors. Your engine can overheat due to other factors, including the water pump, or even a burst head gasket.

RELATED: 9 Causes of an Overheating Car Engine (& How To Fix)

You might need to flush the system if there is any debris visible in the coolant. Also, you should inspect the engine bay for steam and other unusual smells. If you hear unusual engine sounds, like grinding, knocking, or leaking coolant, then you need to inspect the whole system. 

Coolant Flush Prices

You might pay $50-300 to have your radiator and coolant flushed professionally. It all depends on your vehicle, what coolant is needed, and where you shop. You will pay far less if your radiator is flushed at your local lube shop than you would if you went to a dealership.

The labor cost of living in rural or urban areas will also vary. 

It is possible to save significant money by shopping around and finding the best deal. However, you don’t want to go with the cheapest shop based on price alone. It’s also wise to read the customer reviews to ensure your vehicle will be taken care of. If the shop offers coupons, you can ask. You may be able to save some money by using a monthly coupon. Pre-paid maintenance can also be offered by some places to help keep costs low. It might make sense to have all services performed at the same location. 

If you have the mechanical skills, it is possible to flush your radiator yourself, which can help you save lots of money. DIY kits are available for as low as $15 to $65. It is possible to get additional materials, like the coolant. Expect to spend $2-$20 on a garden hose adaptor and $4-$20 on a radiator cleaner if you don’t want to use distilled water. For a gallon regular coolant, you will need to spend between $10 and $35 or $15 to $65 for something superior.


What is the best way to top-up coolant?

Although you may be able to top off the coolant and keep them from accumulating, they can still cause problems in the cooling system. For a better outcome, it's better to perform a coolant flush. You will most likely need to refill coolant if there's a coolant leak.

Do you think it is possible to flush the coolant from tap water?

You can flush coolant with tap water, but it’s not recommended. Hard water minerals can cause cooling system blockages. It’s best to use distilled water to flush the system and then replace the coolant.

Which is the most effective way to flush radiators?

There are many options for flushing radiators. Which one is best depends on what the situation is. It is best to flush radiators using a Special coolant flusher. If your vehicle only needs a slight flush, you may use distilled water. You can also make a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and destilled waters.

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