If you’re looking for ways to save money, learning how to do some basic DIY car maintenance is a great option. Here at U Wrench It, we help Atlanta’s DIY mechanics find the best used auto parts for their projects, whether that means rebuilding a car or making a repair.
One of the common maintenance tasks that you may want to learn is how to change the coolant in your car.
Tips for Changing Coolant
What you’ll need
- 2 gallons of new coolant
- A drain pan
- An air compressor
- An air-powered refill tool
- A hose removal tool
- Paper towels
- Standard wrenches and screwdrivers
- Manual (to find block drain plugs)
Draining the old coolant
- Start with a cool engine. Remove the cap from the coolant reservoir or radiator and look at the color of the liquid. If you see rust, debris, or oil floating on the coolant, or if it’s the color of chocolate milk, you have a bigger issue on your hands. You may have blown a head gasket or have some other issue with your engine. However, if the coolant looks clean, you’re good to move on to the next step.
- Jack up your car and set the jack stands. Place your drain pan directly underneath the coolant reservoir or radiator, and loosen the lower radiator hose clamp. To do this, you’ll need to use spring hose clamp pliers or a worm clamp screwdriver. If you’re unable to remove the hose, you may need to bring in the big guns. You can get a hose removal tool for under $10 to pry it loose.
- Once the hose is off, allow the radiator and water pump to drain. After they are entirely empty, reconnect the lower radiator hose and clamp securely.
- Use your manual to find and remove the block drain plugs. After all is drained into the pan, replace the plugs.
Adding new coolant
- Place your air tool into the neck of the radiator or coolant reservoir. Join the exhaust hose and compressed air line, diverting the free end of the air tool’s exhaust hose into a large receptacle, like a gallon bucket.
- Open the valve and allow the vacuum to increase until the gauge is just to the red zone.
- Add your coolant. While many coolants are marketed as “universal,” be aware of the manufacturer’s suggested coolant. Whichever type of coolant you go with, you’ll need 2 gallons. While you’re doing this, the vacuum is sucking any air out that is left in the system, so you can completely fill it with the coolant of your choice.
- Once you’ve filled the coolant reservoir, replace the tank caps. You’re free to remove your jack stands and hit the road!
A note of caution:
Remember that used coolant is toxic and dangerous. Because of the sweet taste, pets and children are drawn to it, and ingesting even a small amount can be fatal. If you spill so much as a drop, make sure to clean it up right away so that it can’t harm kids or pets who may wander by.
To dispose of used coolant, pour it into a plastic container with a screw-on lid and take it to your local recycling center, like Atlanta’s CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials).