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The coolant in the radiator in the car has the important task of keeping the engine cool and preventing overheating, which can cause severe damage. Over time, small amounts of dirt and debris can clog up the system which circulates the coolant, reducing how effective it is at cooling things down. When this happens you may need to have your radiator flushed. A radiator flush costs between $71 & 125, depending on the type of car you drive and where you have it done.
Radiator Flush Cost Comparison
|Parts & Labour||12 months||$240 – $980|
|Parts & Labour||12 months||$275 – $1100|
|Parts & Labour||12 months||$260 – $1049|
|Parts & Labour||24 months||$245 – $1199|
|Parts||Limited||$112 – $879|
|Parts||Limited||$110 – $949|
What Is A Radiator Flush?
As you use your car on a regular basis, deposits can start to build up in the radiator system of the car. This causes blockages, which can make the circulation of the coolant less efficient. If this happens, the engine gradually becomes hotter and hotter, and can eventually cause damage to the engine itself.
A radiator flush helps to prevent this problem, and should form part of the regular maintenance of your vehicle. The procedure involves draining the old coolant from the radiator and replacing it with a special mixture of coolant, detergent and water. This mixture is circulated through the cooling system of the engine, gradually removing any build up in the radiator channels. This is then drained from the engine, and the standard mixture of water and coolant is replaced.
Many mechanics will offer the radiator flush as a one-off procedure or as part of a general service. The procedure itself can take a few hours, which is why you can expect to pay much more for labor than parts. The additional time comes from leaving the engine to cool initially, running the engine with the detergent mixture through the car, then running the heating system at the highest setting. The engine will then need to cool completely before the mixture can be drained and standard fluid put in place.
Benefits of an Radiator Flush
There are various benefits to having the radiator system of your car flushed on a regular basis. It should generally be performed around once a year to keep your car running optimally, but this can vary between manufacturers.
Bear in mind that there’s a big difference between having the radiator drained and having it flushed, which is often reflected in the price. A drain is usually a very inexpensive repair, while a flush will cost a little more. A drain will only remove about half of the coolant in the system and won’t clear the majority of the build up, while a radiator flush will completely remove the coolant and the vast majority of contaminants.
Flushing your radiator has various benefits, including:
Removing Deposits of Rust and Scale – These build up in the system over time, and a flush will help push them out of the system. This will reduce the risk of damaging your radiator or overheating your engine.
Water Pump Lubrication – The new coolant contains additives which will lubricate the water pump in your car, helping prolong the lifespan of the part and saving you money.
Gets Rid Of Contaminants – Removing old coolant helps get rid of any contaminants which may have built up over time.
Helps Identify Issues With Your Cooling System – When you have the radiator flushed, most places will inspect your entire cooling system for any leaks or other issues. Catching any problems here can help prevent them getting worse over time, again preventing future damage to other parts of the engine.
When Should You Have The Radiator Flushed?
In general you should have the radiator flushed around once a year, but this will depend on your annual mileage and the recommendation of the manufacturer. Most cars will have the work done as part of their annual servicing, alongside things like having the oil changed.
Other factors which can play apart include your driving habits, the quality of antifreeze you use and your driving environment. The general recommendation is to have it flushed once a year or every 40,000 miles, whichever comes first.
What Is Done During A Radiator Flush?
- The engine must be left to cool completely, as the coolant in a warm engine can be extremely hot and can cause injury if not allowed to cool fully.
- The front of the car will usually be jacked up slightly to allow access the underside of the radiator and can help eliminate bubbles from the coolant during the flush.
- The mechanic will usually brush the fins of the radiator to help remove any build up of dirt and grime. They will then inspect the radiator for any damage or rust, as this can indicate a more serious issue with the heating system.
- The two hoses which enter the radiator will then be inspected to ensure neither is collapsed, which can cause issues with the way the coolant flows through the system.
- A drainage pan will be placed under the drainage valve of the radiator. The petcock is typically attached to the underside of one of the radiator tanks, and is usually the only bolt on the bottom of the tank.
- Some radiators can a small plastic covering around the drainage valve, which can be removed with a screwdriver.
- The petcock will be removed to allow the radiator to start draining. This will initially remove around half of the coolant currently in the system.
- The mechanic will then run the water/coolant/detergent mixture through the cooling system. The car will be run for around 10-15 minutes to allow the mixture to circulate fully.
- The mixture will be drained from the car once it has cooled down sufficiently. The process may need to be repeated two or three times to complete the job.
- The new coolant will then be added to the engine. An ideal mix will be around half coolant and half distilled water. These will be combined before being added to the engine.
- The radiator will then be bled to remove any pockets of air. The radiator cap will be removed and the engine will be run for around 10 minutes to allow the air to escape. The coolant will then be topped up to the fill line.
How to Save Money on Radiator Flushes
Flushing the radiator is something you can do yourself if you’re comfortable working with your car, so you can save money by doing the work yourself. Remember that engine coolant is highly toxic, so it will need to be recycled properly. Many garages will do this for you, or there are specialist places for recycling it.
Another way to save money on a radiator flush is to shop around for the best deal in your area. Many garages will run special offers on routine work like this, so if you keep your ear to the ground you can usually find a good deal.
Sample Radiator Flush Costs
|Ford F-Series||$291 – $372||$199 – $513||$490 – $885|
|Chevrolet Silverado||$236 – $301||$339 – $530||$575 – $831|
|Ford Focus||$213 – $271||$192 – $278||$405 – $549|
|Toyota Camry||$94 – $121||$329 – $788||$423 – $909|
|Toyota Corolla||$79 – $100||$335 – $909||$414 – $1009|
|Nissan Altima||$79 – $100||$375 – $485||$454 – $585|
|Honda CR-V||$71 – $90||$189 – $424||$260 – $514|
|Honda Civic||$244 – $311||$320 – $414||$564 – $725|
|Honda Accord||$79 – $100||$239 – $378||$318 – $478|
|Ford Fusion||$118 – $151||$325 – $359||$443 – $510|