Changing the coolant: a quick guide

Coolant is an engine’s lifeblood, keeping it at the correct operating temperature, helping it to warm up quickly in cold weather and not get too hot when it's under stress. When the temperature plummets to below freezing, if mixed with a correct antifreeze, coolant can prevent damage in the engine and help it function at its best.

The way coolant works within the engine’s cooling system hasn’t changed much over the past 100 years. The cooling system circulates the coolant fluid around specially designed cavities within the engine block, before being passed through a large radiator, cooling the fluid within the system. It keeps the engine temperature at its optimum operating point. Having the appropriate amount of coolant in the engine will also help stop corrosion taking place within certain engine parts.⠀⠀

How often the coolant should be changed or topped up depends on the amount of driving you do. It is recommended you check coolant level every couple of weeks. If it is time to change the coolant here is a quick guide on what you will need.

Parts and tools that you may need⠀⠀

  • Gloves and protective eyewear⠀
  • Pan or bucket to collect water⠀
  • Floor jack (if necessary)⠀
  • Axle stands⠀
  • Ratchet and socket set⠀
  • Screwdriver⠀
  • Rags⠀
  • Pliers
  • New coolant⠀
  • Replacement hoses (if found to be faulty)⠀⠀

Changing engine coolant: step-by-step⠀

  1. Make sure the engine is cold, handbrake applied and vehicle is in first gear⠀
  2. Raise the front of the vehicle on a jack⠀
  3. Place jackstands beneath the car and lower it into position, ensuring the back wheels have chocks in place⠀
  4. You may need to remove any underbody shield⠀
  5. Place a container under the radiator and undo the drain valve (see vehicle handbook for location)⠀
  6. Flush the system as many times as necessary⠀
  7. Locate and remove the reserve tank from its holder and drain any coolant remaining, then put the tank back in place⠀
  8. Replace the drain valve⠀
  9. Refill the system to the base of the filler neck, with the correct antifreeze