At least once every 2 years, the engine cooling system should be inspected, flushed, and refilled with fresh coolant. If the coolant is left in the system too long, it loses its ability to prevent rust and corrosion. If the coolant has too much water, it won't protect against freezing.
The pressure cap should be looked at for signs of age or deterioration. Fan belt and other drive belts should be inspected and adjusted to the proper tension.
Hose clamps should be tightened, and soft or cracked hoses replaced. Damp spots, or accumulations of rust or dye near hoses, water pump or other areas, indicate possible leakage, which must be corrected before filling the system with fresh coolant.
CHECK THE RADIATOR CAP
While you are checking the coolant level, check the radiator cap for a worn or cracked gasket. If the cap doesn't seal properly, fluid will be lost and the engine will overheat.
Worn caps should be replaced with a new one.
CLEAN RADIATOR OF DEBRIS
Periodically clean any debris-leaves, paper, insects, etc.-from the radiator fins. Pick the large pieces off by hand. The smaller pieces can be washed away with water pressure from a hose.
Carefully straighten any bent radiator fins with a pair of needle nose pliers. Be careful-the fins are very soft. Don't wiggle the fins back and forth too much. Straighten them once and try not to move them again.
Check the coolant level in the radiator at every oil change. If the coolant level is low, refill the radiator with 50/50 solution of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) and water. Every year or 30,000 miles (48,000 km) drain, flush and refill the cooling system.
Once a month, the engine coolant level should be checked. On vehicles with a recovery tank, this is quickly accomplished by observing the level of coolant in the recovery tank, which is the translucent tank mounted to the right or left of the radiator, and connected to the radiator filler neck by a length of hose. As long as coolant is visible in the tank between the Full Cold and Full Hot marks the coolant level is OK.
On vehicles not equipped with a recovery tank, remove the radiator cap and observe the fluid level in the radiator.
If coolant is needed, a 50/50 mix of ethylene glycol base antifreeze and clear water should always be used for additions, both winter and summer. This is imperative on cars with air conditioning; without the antifreeze, the heater core could freeze when the air conditioning is used. Add coolant to the recovery tank through the capped opening or directly into the radiator, make additions only when the engine is cool.
DRAINING, FLUSHING & REFILLING
Completely draining and refilling the cooling system every two years at least will remove accumulated rust, scale and other deposits. Coolant mixture is 50-50 ethylene glycol and water for year round use. Use a good quality antifreeze with water pump lubricants, rust inhibitors and other corrosion inhibitors along with acid neutralizers.
- Drain the existing antifreeze and coolant. Open the radiator and engine drain petcocks, or disconnect the bottom radiator hose, at the radiator outlet.
Before opening the radiator petcock, spray it with some penetrating lubricant.
- Close the petcock or re-connect the lower hose and fill the system with water.
- Add a can of quality radiator flush.
- Idle the engine until the upper radiator hose gets hot.
- Drain the system again.
- Repeat this process until the drained water is clear and free of scale.
- Close all petcocks and connect all the hoses.
- If equipped with a coolant recovery system, flush the reservoir with water and leave empty.
- Determine the capacity of your cooling system (see capacities specifications). Add a 50/50 mix of quality antifreeze (ethylene glycol) and water to provide the desired protection.
- Run the engine to operating temperature.
- Stop the engine and check the coolant level.
- Check the level of protection with an antifreeze tester, replace the cap and check for leaks.