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How to flush the radiator?

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 15 Apr 2018, 06:09 pm
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Default How to flush the radiator?

I have a 2001 PT Cruiser Limited.

I am on my last leg of trying to battle the dreaded overheating problem.
I have replaced the radiator cap, thermostat, thermostat sensor, checked the overflow tube (it is clear), checked both high and low relays, replaced the fan w/ housing (hardwired), among other things. I even ran a switch directly to the high relay so I can turn it on when I need to.

Anyway, I pulled the radiator and am installing a new one. I would like to flush the system and get any particles out as I dismantled the old radiator and it was full of gritty stuff.

What is the proper way to flush the cooling system? I don't want any particles left that may get into the new radiator.

Once the system is flushed and clean, I plan to put in Xerex G-05 and make sure there is no air bubbles in the system. If it still overheats after that, I have no idea what it could be.
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 08:51 am
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

I would have flushed out before removing the rad. Also would have checked the rad first with a laser thermometer before replacing parts. With that said I would first reverse flush the heater core, then pull the thermostat and run water through the system. maybe run the car for a few seconds to get the water pump moving the stuff out.

Not a pro so I'm sure the pro's on the site may have more for you.

Mike
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 12:23 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Quote:
I would first reverse flush the heater core
How do I do that?
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 03:02 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

According to the good folks at ASE, I'm a "pro". But that just means I'm doubly dangerous. That's why I work as a Safety Engineer instead. Plus, it pays a lot better.

Since the radiator is out of the car, you can remove the thermostat and then stick a garden hose directly into the lower radiator hose. You may need to wrap it in duct tape to prevent too much water from flowing back out. This should force water up and out the top radiator hose. Once this happens, start the engine and let it run for only a minute or less, this will help flush the system.

You can also back flush the system doing the same thing but with the garden hose in the top radiator hose. But don't run the engine since that would force water back toward the garden hose and cause the pump to run dry.

For the heater core, disconnect both hoses going to the heater core. Then use the garden hose to flow water in one direction through the heater core and then in the other.

What usually happens is that only the lower part of the radiator core becomes clogged. So water continues to circulate through the top. However, when the RPM's on the engine come up, this restriction causes overheating. That's why a car with a clogged radiator will often run cool at low speeds, but overheats when driving at speed.
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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 16 Apr 2018 at 03:08 pm.
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 03:18 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Handy_Cruiser View Post
According to the good folks at ASE, I'm a "pro". But that just means I'm doubly dangerous.

For the heater core, disconnect both hoses going to the heater core. Then use the garden hose to flow water in one direction through the heater core and then in the other.
the heater core part is the doubly dangerous part. don't touch the heater core. don't touch it's hoses. just leave it alone. don't even look at the heater core. if you rub it the wrong way fiddlin' with it, you might be taking the dashboard out to change it. they're fragile new, they're more fragile old. no good reason to yank on the hoses. flush the rest an extra 5 minutes instead and just leave the heater core be.

my 2
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Last edited by rob302; 16 Apr 2018 at 03:21 pm.
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 03:45 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob302 View Post
the heater core part is the doubly dangerous part. don't touch the heater core. don't touch it's hoses. just leave it alone. don't even look at the heater core. if you rub it the wrong way fiddlin' with it, you might be taking the dashboard out to change it. they're fragile new, they're more fragile old. no good reason to yank on the hoses. flush the rest an extra 5 minutes instead and just leave the heater core be.

my 2
No reason to yank on the heat core hoses. You can take the hoses loose on the driver's side of the engine and flush from there.

If you do want to remove the hoses from the core and if they are tight, simple take a utility knife and split them parallel with the hose in the area where they go onto the heater core. Then use a screwdriver to tease the cut section loose from the core. If you only cut an inch or so, you can then cut the hoses square and reuse them. The hoses are U-shaped and there's a lot of extra slack.

I have hands like an ape and often act like I'm a bull in a china cabinet. But even being a one-man zoo, I've never damaged a heater core yet. Not even one on a Ford. But I'm trying.
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Old 16 Apr 2018, 10:42 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

This is very handy for removing the hose clamps on the firewall



Otherwise you'll bust knuckles and spew our words you didn't know you knew while trying to remove the hose clamps next to the firewall heater inlet/outlet.

You should remove the air intake hose, airbox and maybe disconnect the 4 big connectors to the TIPM to get a little more working room. A gentle twist of the hose will usually be enough to loosen them for an easy pull off. You should remove the engine side first.

I used 5/8" I.D. clear vinyl hose to reverse flush the heater core using a garden hose and a nozzle that fit flush onto the 5/8" hose. My water system only flows about 2-3 GPM and the pressure is not terribly high.



I have way too much hose length on this picture but you get the idea. I replaced the one gallon jug with a 3 gallon jug so I didn't have to stop to drain the water so often. The top hose is the outlet so you hook that side to the garden hose and drain the water from the inlet (bottom) hose.

You should literally be able to blow all the water out of the heater core with your mouth on the hose. If you can't, it's clogged and you probably shouldn't use high pressure to blow through it because you could split a seam in the core or blow it out completely. Then you'll have to remove the dashboard to replace the heater core which will cost about $1000 or take a day or two for you to do yourself.
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Old 20 Apr 2018, 02:50 pm
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Thanks so much guys
I have flushed the system until it runs clean clear water.

Question: should the water shoot out? Right now it flows well and thick, but I thought with a water pump it would be more like a fire hydrant

While flushing from the bottom radiator hose, if I turn on the heater on full will it flush the heater core as well (so I don't have to pull the hoses)? Or will I still need to do it anyway?

Also: the flushed water is running clear, should I bother using radiator flush chemicals..?

Thanks so much, I hope this solves my overheating problem!



UPDATE:

Ok, I went ahead and pulled the hoses to the heater core and flushed it. The water went through it slowly, but I did it until it ran clean.
I DID go ahead and put in some radiator flush/rust remover I got from Walmart.
Then I drove it around for awhile with the heat on full.
Note: I remove the spring/plunger from the thermostat, so the water flows all the time.
As I drove, the first 20 minutes were below cold.
I parked to get gas and chat with a friend. When I cranked back up it was normal/middle and stayed there the whole way home.
When I got home and killed the engine, it boiled over into the reservoir.
Could this be because it is distilled water and chemicals (NOT coolant)?
Arg.. If this doesn't fix it, the only other thing I can think of to replace is the water pump.

Last edited by 3DPiper; 20 Apr 2018 at 05:41 pm.
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Old 21 Apr 2018, 07:51 am
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Water boils at 212 degrees, so the odds are pretty good that was the reason you had bubbling in the overflow tank. But just to be safe, check the hose that runs from the top of the radiator to the overflow tank for cracks or leaks. Personally, I don't recommend filling one with water and driving it anywhere. But that's just an old shade tree's opinion, not an ASE dude.
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Old 24 Apr 2018, 10:26 am
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Default Re: How to flush the radiator?

Thanks!

I am now flushing the system with distilled water after using the radiator flush chemicals.

How can I know I am filling the cooling system all the way up with no air bubbles since I don't have a thermostat? It doesn't seem like i'm getting in the full 7.2qts. If I leave the radiator cap off, as soon as I crank up it starts overflowing.

I know it doesn't matter that much for flushing, but I am considering just leaving the open thermostat in there for the summer (do NOT want to deal with overheating)

Last edited by 3DPiper; 24 Apr 2018 at 10:37 am.
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