Your radiator does the important job of helping to keep the engine cool. Overheating can cause serious, expensive damage like a blown head gasket (which typically requires complete engine replacement) or warped cylinders. The radiator circulates and cools the coolant liquid responsible for keeping the engine block from overheating.
Flushing the cooling system every one to two years is a good idea for several reasons:
Contaminants build up in the cooling system over time. Flushing it washes away particles that have formed due to the breakdown of anti-corrosive properties in the coolant.
Scale and rust deposits build up in the radiator and can cause damage to it. Washing everything out of the radiator gets rid of these deposits, protecting your cooling system from harm.
Newer formulas of anti-freeze offer foam and rust protection. Foaming can prevent your cooling system from operating at its most efficient.
Why flush instead of just drain? Draining the system only removes about half of the anti-freeze, leaving particulates, rust, and other contaminants to be recirculated. If you open your coolant reservoir and the liquid is rusty or dirty colored, it’s time to flush the system. You can do so with products designed specifically for this task.
How to make sure you’re getting a good quality cooling system flush:
Check the label – it should say something like Flush or Flush and Cleaner.
Get a bottle of water pump lubricant while you’re at it. This extends the life of the water pump, and it’s better to put it in once the coolant is nice and fresh and all the components cleaned out.
Be sure to purchase the correct anti-freeze to fill your freshly flushed system with. The newer OAT (organic acid technology) coolant is specifically designed for newer aluminum parts and should not be put into a system meant to hold the old-fashioned green or yellow. Even if you’re replacing your radiator with aluminum you should stick with the manufacturer recommended fluid because the rest of the system is made for it.
Follow the instructions on the cooling system flush bottle and then refill your system with the proper anti-freeze.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t just dump your used coolant into the grass or sewer drains when you empty the system out to flush it. Call your city or local dump and find out what the recommended procedure is for your locale. Some places allow dumping in a toilet or sink drain, and some have a yearly pickup of hazardous materials.
If you're still in need of assistance, and would like your car to have a proper cooling system flush, be sure to have a certified mechanic from YourMechanic effectively perform this task for you. We can supply the materials for this task or use the ones that you've purchased. Click here to get a quote for a cooling system flush.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Cooling System Flush and was authored by Valerie Johnston.