When old coolant is left in a radiator for too long, all sorts of problems can ensue--from internal corrosion to leaks to overheating engines. Fortunately, you can help prevent these problems by flushing your radiator. If you would like to learn more about home automotive maintenance, read on. This article will walk you through the process of flushing a radiator.

Step 1: Locate The Radiator and Petcock

If you have driven your car recently, make sure to give your engine several hours to cool before getting started. Then pop the hood and locate your radiator. It should be located near the front end of the car and can be easily identified by the series of metal slats running up and down its length. Knowing where the radiator is will make it easier to find the fluid release valve, or petcock, once you're underneath the car.

Depending on your particular model, you may need to jack up the front end of the car in order to get the necessary clearance. Locate the bottom of the radiator and look around for the petcock valve. Pulling the petcock downward releases the radiator fluid. Before you do this, however, you'll need to position a drainage pan beneath the petcock.

The drainage pan should be large enough to contain approximately two gallons of liquid. Ideally, it should also have a lid. This will prevent unwanted sloshing when you take the fluid to your nearby mechanic so that it can be appropriately recycled.

Step 2: Drain And Flush The Radiator

Wearing a pair of gloves to protect your skin from the radiator fluid, pull out the petcock and allow the fluid to dribble out into the drainage pan. Don't be fooled into thinking that the job is done once the trickle of fluid comes to a stop. In fact, such drainage usually only accounts for 40 to 45 percent of your coolant. To remove the rest, you'll need to flush the radiator with water.

Begin by pushing the petcock back to seal the bottom of the radiator. Now use a garden hose to fill the coolant tank located next to the radiator up to its "max" line. Now turn your car on and allow it to run for several minutes. This will help to circulate the water through your cooling system, thus diluting the remaining coolant.

Now pull out the petcock once more and allow the water/coolant mixture to drain out. Be aware that this mixture will also need to be properly recycled. Repeat this process another two or three times. At that point, you can be relatively sure that all of your old radiator fluid is gone. Refill the coolant tank with fresh fluid.