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Radiator, flush and fill kit or just use the drain plug?

LMHmedchem

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Hello,

A radiator system flush is one of the next things on my list. I have all of the coolant out, so I figured this was a good time to do it.

This is the flush compound that I have,

Blue Devil Radiator Flush & Oil Degreaser 32oz ($9.95)

I also have a Prestone Flush'N Fill Kit and I am wondering if I should bother to install it so I can connect up the hose and flush the system with water under some pressure or if I should just fill with water and let it drain out. The instructions do not make it entirely clear as to where this kit should be installed, so that complicates things a bit.

Is there an advantage to using the kit or should I just let gravity do its thing a few times?

Thanks,

LMHmedchem
 



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BKennedy

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I have never been a fan of radiator flush as it might break something loose in a old cooling system that is holding something together. Kind of like flushing a transmission when the fluid hasn't been changed in 150,000 miles.

I drain whatever will drain, fill it back up with a hose, run the engine until the thermostat kicks in, and repeat it a few times until it appears that mostly water is left. The drain and refill with recommended coolant mixture.

I edited your post title for clarification.
 






LMHmedchem

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Well I think that it is not worth installing the flush port. I will do the manual/gravity method as you suggest. I can't remember if I have ever had a flush done on this or not. I know I haven't done it myself.

It seems like there could be an issue with the drain plug not having a large enough opening if there is any serious sediment in there. Is this ever an issue? I could always disconnect the lower radiator hose after it cools if that would do a better job of letting any large junk out.

LMHmedchem
 






shane10

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I have used BKennedy's of draining all the coolant, filling it with water to get a better flush, running it, draining it again and then filling with the specified coolant amount. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to pull the lower radiator hose closest to the petcock, I had some sediment built up in there that would not have flowed through the small petcock drain plug, this is a bit messier so be prepared with a big bucket or 2.

That method seems to keep things clean enough. I tore down my engine at around 215K, aside from the slight sediment build up in the lower hose, all the ports were clear with some small spots of minor calcium build-up.

If you're not using a 50/50 mix, there is a lot of debate on what water to mix the coolant with. I have read some saying use ONLY distilled water, and others saying distilled water will strip the metal of electrons. I have good tap water that I run through a filter and it seems to work fine. Up to you on that, I have been using motorcraft gold coolant which only comes non diluted.
 






LMHmedchem

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If you're not using a 50/50 mix, there is a lot of debate on what water to mix the coolant with. I have read some saying use ONLY distilled water, and others saying distilled water will strip the metal of electrons. I have good tap water that I run through a filter and it seems to work fine.
The most commonly quoted article on this topic is from a company who sells a product that is supposed to bypass this issue. I always carry a fair bit of skepticism when reading something from a company who has a financial interest in the issue. The article actually says that you should not fill your radiator with distilled water, meaning only water with no other coolant. It doesn't actually say anything about what you use, or don't use, to mix with a coolant concentrate. (at least I didn't see anything like that)

In the very old days, we just used tap water in the radiator. When it started to get cold, we added alcohol to the water to keep it from freezing. Later on, you added a commercial "anti-freeze" to the water instead of alcohol. Water on its own is somewhat corrosive on its own because of the disassociated hydrogen ions (i.e rust), and alcohol is a mild acid, which makes the combination it worse. Commercial anti-freeze was made from ethylene or propylene glycol. Now there is just "coolant" that you run all year. It contains anti-corrosive compounds that make it stable of long periods of time and has a much higher boiling temperature than water. Water, however is still the best compound as far as heat transfer and cooling is concerned.

I can pretty much guarantee that when you buy pre-diluted (ready to use) coolant, that coolant is manufactured using either distilled or de-ionized water. You get exactly the same thing by mixing distilled water with coolant concentrate yourself. Even distilled water will pick up enough CO2 from the air to make it mildly acidic (pH ~5.5) just by pouring it out of the jug. The same is true for tap water as well. The anti-corrosive additives in the coolant take care of that with no problem.

There are probably many cases where filtered tap water would be fine to mix with concentrate (our water here is not very hard at all). The general issue is that tap water has a great variety of impurities depending where it comes from, not to mention well water. That is why distilled water is used in manufacturing. Without knowing what is and isn't in the water, it is safer to use distilled. But again, this is in conjunction with a coolant concentrate. Pure distilled water is still used in some racing applications if I remember correctly. Their engines don't last very long anyway (without major maintenance) so internal corrosion is the least of their problems.

I am using,

Prestone All Vehicles Antifreeze+Coolant, 10yr/300k mi 1 Gal Concentrate ($11.37)

in part because I can't seem to find anything else in stock around here. Shipping gets ridiculous for liquids that are considered hazardous, so for now I am going with what I can get. It was only a little over $20 for 2 gallons of concentrate, so I don't mind changing it out if I can get something better later.

LMHmedchem
 






BrooklynBay

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Coolant lasts a long time but will cause problems when it turns brown. That's when it's time to flush it out. It's circulating rust at that point, and will eventually clog the radiator & heater core. There are rust inhibitor additives which enable the coolant to last longer but regular coolant is usually fine without additives. I don't think that it's a good idea to play with the valve on the radiator if it's very old. You could siphon the radiator from the top without opening the valve or hoses.
 






LMHmedchem

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Coolant lasts a long time but will cause problems when it turns brown. That's when it's time to flush it out. It's circulating rust at that point, and will eventually clog the radiator & heater core. There are rust inhibitor additives which enable the coolant to last longer but regular coolant is usually fine without additives. I don't think that it's a good idea to play with the valve on the radiator if it's very old. You could siphon the radiator from the top without opening the valve or hoses.
I have already opened the drain valve when I drained the coolant. I have also had most of the hoses off (not the hose that runs along the bottom). The coolant has been out for a while because I replaced the power steering and changed out the oil filter adapter gasket. I haven't refilled the coolant yet so I thought I would do a flush of some kind before I refill with coolant.

The drain valve seemed to work fine when I originally drained the coolant. Is there any reason I should still be concerned about it since I have used the valve recently? I could always disconnect the hose that runs from the bottom of the reservoir instead. I have had that off as well and changed out the clamp.

LMHmedchem
 






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Add coolant to the radiator then check the valve for leaks. It should be fine but sometimes sediment could get caught inside the valve, and prevent it from closing completely. You'll know if you see it dripping. Most of the time the valve is fine but it doesn't hurt to check it after the engine heats up. A cooling system pressure tester could be used with the engine off to check for leaks. An auto parts store such as Autozone has them with their tool loaning program.
 






davidmmm69

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Coolant lasts a long time but will cause problems when it turns brown. That's when it's time to flush it out. It's circulating rust at that point, and will eventually clog the radiator & heater core. There are rust inhibitor additives which enable the coolant to last longer but regular coolant is usually fine without additives. I don't think that it's a good idea to play with the valve on the radiator if it's very old. You could siphon the radiator from the top without opening the valve or hoses.
You need to check this out at about 11 minutes in...
 












Mbrooks420

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The most commonly quoted article on this topic is from a company who sells a product that is supposed to bypass this issue. I always carry a fair bit of skepticism when reading something from a company who has a financial interest in the issue. The article actually says that you should not fill your radiator with distilled water, meaning only water with no other coolant. It doesn't actually say anything about what you use, or don't use, to mix with a coolant concentrate. (at least I didn't see anything like that)

In the very old days, we just used tap water in the radiator. When it started to get cold, we added alcohol to the water to keep it from freezing. Later on, you added a commercial "anti-freeze" to the water instead of alcohol. Water on its own is somewhat corrosive on its own because of the disassociated hydrogen ions (i.e rust), and alcohol is a mild acid, which makes the combination it worse. Commercial anti-freeze was made from ethylene or propylene glycol. Now there is just "coolant" that you run all year. It contains anti-corrosive compounds that make it stable of long periods of time and has a much higher boiling temperature than water. Water, however is still the best compound as far as heat transfer and cooling is concerned.

I can pretty much guarantee that when you buy pre-diluted (ready to use) coolant, that coolant is manufactured using either distilled or de-ionized water. You get exactly the same thing by mixing distilled water with coolant concentrate yourself. Even distilled water will pick up enough CO2 from the air to make it mildly acidic (pH ~5.5) just by pouring it out of the jug. The same is true for tap water as well. The anti-corrosive additives in the coolant take care of that with no problem.

There are probably many cases where filtered tap water would be fine to mix with concentrate (our water here is not very hard at all). The general issue is that tap water has a great variety of impurities depending where it comes from, not to mention well water. That is why distilled water is used in manufacturing. Without knowing what is and isn't in the water, it is safer to use distilled. But again, this is in conjunction with a coolant concentrate. Pure distilled water is still used in some racing applications if I remember correctly. Their engines don't last very long anyway (without major maintenance) so internal corrosion is the least of their problems.

I am using,

Prestone All Vehicles Antifreeze+Coolant, 10yr/300k mi 1 Gal Concentrate ($11.37)

in part because I can't seem to find anything else in stock around here. Shipping gets ridiculous for liquids that are considered hazardous, so for now I am going with what I can get. It was only a little over $20 for 2 gallons of concentrate, so I don't mind changing it out if I can get something better later.

LMHmedchem
If manufacturing uses treated water it’s almost always RO water. Using high volumes of distilled water would be WAY too costly.

I’ve never had issues using our well water, but it was a decent starting point for well water, and had been filtered, although my last few times messing with cooling systems I’ve just used pre-diluted coolant.
 






davidmmm69

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What does this video have to do with any part of this thread?
Umm flushing a nasty system. Wow never mind. Someone mentioned coolant turning brown. Sorry I wasted your precious time!!!
 






LMHmedchem

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You need to check this out at about 11 minutes in...
Good lord, I hope that the inside of my radiator doesn't look like that. I have always been a bit annoyed that my radiator doesn't have a cap because I would like to be able to visually inspect it from time to time.

Anyway, I changed what I was going to do today. I was going to add a flush with water but I ended up just filling up from the hose. I haven't started this in a while and also had to finish bleeding the air from the power steering system with the motor running, so I had enough things to do without adding a flush. I have had almost all of the hoses off, so I thought I should at least make sure that there were no leaks before I add any flush or coolant. It would be silly to fill it with coolant and then find I had a leak somewhere. I ran it for about an hour today and the temperature looks fine. I had the heat on full and it was nice and hot. I don't think I have a leak anywhere. There were some drips in a couple of places and the level in the reservoir dropped some. I think that was just water I spilled while filling and air getting forced out. I let it cool off and refilled the reservoir. I ran it again for 30 minutes and I didn't see any drips and the level in the reservoir stayed up. I will see again tomorrow.

If manufacturing uses treated water it’s almost always RO water. Using high volumes of distilled water would be WAY too costly.
I find that surprising, distilling water is pretty economical. We have a still at our lab and you can just get distilled water from the tap. There are hot, cold, and distilled spigots. I have never been told that we need to be careful about how much we use, though maybe the amounts are so small that it doesn't matter. I have brought gallons home for various uses here. The plumbing used to be done with copper pipe lined with glass to stop the water from picking up metallic ions but I believe that it's Nalgene or something similar now. The still is about 70 years old and has a copper condenser that is glass coated. The incoming water passes through the condenser to cool it and is then boiled. The steam hits the condenser and phases back to liquid water, minus the impurities. The still needs to be cleaned every so often, more or less like cleaning a coffee maker. The water is pretty clean to start with. It is a very efficient process and scales up pretty well. I would expect the membranes used in reverse osmosis to be more expensive and need to be replaced more often. Maybe scaling distillation to thousands of gallons is harder than I think? The only cost is really energy.

At any rate, what I wanted to make clear is that there is no issue in using distilled water to dilute coolant concentrates. Issues with using distilled water are in using only distilled water in the system with nothing else. In fact, it says right on the Prestone bottle, "water quality is important, use distilled water only". The bold type there is just what is on the bottle. That's not me yelling at anyone. I would qualify that to say that the packaging should always be read for the manufacturers recommendations. The main issue is that tap water in the US is all over the place as far as what is in there other than water.

Does anyone think there will be an issue in using the Prestone All Vehicles? I know that many here like Zerex, Peak, or Motocraft.

LMHmedchem
 






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I think the reason they say use distilled water only is a lot simpler than listing all the imaginable possibilities you shouldn't use.
Do not use pond water, bird bath water, swimming pool water, agriculture run off water, nuclear power coolant water, left over dog water bowl water ... You get the point.

I didn't bother with a flush kit. Opened the pet cock, put garden hose in radiator fill port, ran engine five minutes after thermostat opened with garden hose in radiator cap, then a mild acidic radiator flush, finally five flushes with garden hose, and finished with Preston pre-mix.

The old water was dirty brown, but no rust flakes.
 






LMHmedchem

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Opened the pet cock, put garden hose in radiator fill port, ran engine five minutes after thermostat opened with garden hose in radiator cap, then a mild acidic radiator flush, finally five flushes with garden hose, and finished with Preston pre-mix.
Why is it that I think my radiator doesn't have a cap? I don't see anything I can put a hose into. The only place I have ever added fluid is the reservoir. Is there a cap hiding under there somewhere?

LMHmedchem
 






LMHmedchem

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I did more flushing today with plain water and seem to see an issue. With the system drained, I can only add about 2 gallons of water before the reservoir is topped off. I assume that this means that there is coolant trapped in the system that doesn't come out when you drain. Even now when I fill with water, run the engine for 10 minutes, and then drain, the drain liquid is a bit green. It was very green when I did the first rinse with water. There must have been quite a bit of coolant that didn't come out by draining from the valve and lower hose. I have the heat on and it is hot. The heater hose is hot, as is the top radiator hose. The engine temperature is fine (quite low as always). There are no leaks. It seems like everything is working.

Is there some way to get all of the liquid out? Do I take off a hose and hook up and air compressor? I suppose that if I keep rinsing with 2 gallons of water at a time I will eventually get drain water that is completely clear. I am running it with the heat on full until I see the engine temp start to come up some and I am getting hot air out of the vents. Then I shut it off and let it cool.

This leads me to a question about refilling with coolant. If there are ~2 gallons of water trapped in the engine in locations that will not drain out, how do I go about refilling it? If I add 1 gallon of concentrate and 1 gallon of water, I will have 3 gallons of water and 1 gallon of coolant. That isn't the correct ratio. Do I just add 2 gallons of coolant concentrate and assume that there are already 2 gallons of water in there?

I am guessing that others have run into this before and someone knows the solution.

On a good note, the liquid coming out is very clean. There is no rust or sediment that I can see, even when I disconnect the lower radiator hose to get the bit out of the bottom.

LMHmedchem
 






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When I lived in a very cold climate, one of these was a must.
.
From experience, I'd never recommend a "flush" product. I believe they might damage water pump seals.
.
Distilled vs clean water ? I wouldn't care . . . . BUT I have lived where the well water had so many minerals in it that all toilet bowls were orange and the water heaters needed to be flushed occasionally. I would not use that water in a radiator.
 






BrooklynBay

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Drain out whatever you could from the system, fill it with a gallon of coolant then a gallon of water. I know that it's not possible to drain everything since coolant gets into the hoses, heater core, and the engine block, but you could only drain out so much.
 









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joney

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Good lord, I hope that the inside of my radiator doesn't look like that. I have always been a bit annoyed that my radiator doesn't have a cap because I would like to be able to visually inspect it from time to time.

Anyway, I changed what I was going to do today. I was going to add a flush with water but I ended up just filling up from the hose. I haven't started this in a while and also had to finish bleeding the air from the power steering system with the motor running, so I had enough things to do without adding a flush. I have had almost all of the hoses off, so I thought I should at least make sure that there were no leaks before I add any flush or coolant. It would be silly to fill it with coolant and then find I had a leak somewhere. I ran it for about an hour today and the temperature looks fine. I had the heat on full and it was nice and hot. I don't think I have a leak anywhere. There were some drips in a couple of places and the level in the reservoir dropped some. I think that was just water I spilled while filling and air getting forced out. I let it cool off and refilled the reservoir. I ran it again for 30 minutes and I didn't see any drips and the level in the reservoir stayed up. I will see again tomorrow.


I find that surprising, distilling water is pretty economical. We have a still at our lab and you can just get distilled water from the tap. There are hot, cold, and distilled spigots. I have never been told that we need to be careful about how much we use, though maybe the amounts are so small that it doesn't matter. I have brought gallons home for various uses here. The plumbing used to be done with copper pipe lined with glass to stop the water from picking up metallic ions but I believe that it's Nalgene or something similar now. The still is about 70 years old and has a copper condenser that is glass coated. The incoming water passes through the condenser to cool it and is then boiled. The steam hits the condenser and phases back to liquid water, minus the impurities. The still needs to be cleaned every so often, more or less like cleaning a coffee maker. The water is pretty clean to start with. It is a very efficient process and scales up pretty well. I would expect the membranes used in reverse osmosis to be more expensive and need to be replaced more often. Maybe scaling distillation to thousands of gallons is harder than I think? The only cost is really energy.

At any rate, what I wanted to make clear is that there is no issue in using distilled water to dilute coolant concentrates. Issues with using distilled water are in using only distilled water in the system with nothing else. In fact, it says right on the Prestone bottle, "water quality is important, use distilled water only". The bold type there is just what is on the bottle. That's not me yelling at anyone. I would qualify that to say that the packaging should always be read for the manufacturers recommendations. The main issue is that tap water in the US is all over the place as far as what is in there other than water.

Does anyone think there will be an issue in using the Prestone All Vehicles? I know that many here like Zerex, Peak, or Motocraft.

LMHmedchem
Good to know, thanks. Never read the instructions, LOL And we have hard water. Good timing, about to change out my coolant, no idea how long it's been there.
 






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