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How Can You Tell When Your Car’s Cooling System Needs To Be Flushed?

Steps to flush a car's cooling system.

If you're wondering, “how can you tell when your car's cooling system needs to be flushed?” Here are the common symptoms indicating that your vehicle is due for a coolant flush:

1.    High-temperature gauge reading

2.    Coolant leaks

3.    Weird noises

4.    Cracks on the hoses

5.    Low coolant level

6.    Different coolant color

7.    Cold air from the vents during hot air set up

The engine temperature must be maintained within a specific range. When the engine temperature exceeds a certain threshold, you will deal with situations referred to as “engine overheating.” Engine overheating is one of the most critical situations your vehicle might face because it immediately results in complete engine failure.

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Among the different systems that help cools down the engine is your cooling system. The cooling system relies on a coolant fluid that runs around the engine and sucks up any excess temperature to maintain the right temperature level for your engine.

At some point, your vehicles need to be flushed to keep their job and ensure the right level of cooling. Therefore, understanding “how can you tell when your car's cooling system needs to be flushed?” is very critical for any driver.

This article walks you through the main symptoms indicating that your vehicle is due for a coolant flush. It also highlights how often you should perform the coolant flush crawl and how much a car coolant flush cost.

What is the cooling system, and what does it do?

The cooling system is one of the most critical systems in your vehicle. It is responsible for maintaining the engine temperature within the optimum level to prevent engine overheating and engine damage.

The cooling system consists of several important components, including the coolant, the radiator, the thermostat, the hoses, and the water pump. These components work together to help the coolant run around the engine bring its temperature down when it exceeds a certain threshold.

Over time of use, the coolant picks up many contaminants and debris from around the engine. Thus, it loses some of its main characteristics that bring the engine temperatures down. Therefore, automotive experts and vehicles owner’s manuals require changing the coolant with a fresh one every specific time, depending on your vehicle's brand.

What is the cooling system flush? Are engine coolant flushes necessary?

When you hear the term “coolant flush” or probably “cooling system flush” if not “radiator flush,” it all refers to the same thing, which is draining out the old coolant and pouring a new fresh one.

Every vehicle has a specific frequency for coolant change, and this frequency is stated clearly in your vehicle's owner’s manual. Thoughts, if you have no idea about when to change the engine coolant, you can always find it in your vehicle's owner’s manual. Sometimes you might want to reach out to your mechanic and get an idea about whether you need a fresh coolant before what's recommended in your vehicle's owner’s manual.

A coolant flush is very important because, as we indicated earlier, coolant will lose its main characteristics as it gets dirtier. When the coolant is not clean and has a lot of contaminants, these contaminants increase the pressure in the cooling system, and therefore, the cooling system will not operate as it should. Thus, performing the coolant flush at the right time helps maintain the engine and prevent engine overheating while keeping the best cooling system performance.

How often should a coolant system be flushed?

To help maintain your vehicle's cooling system and therefore your engine, it is important to learn how often you should flush the coolant. Typically, you'll find this information in your vehicle's owner’s manual, but in general. However, experts suggest that you flush the coolant once every 30,000 miles or five years, whatever comes first.

Keep in mind that this rough estimate does not necessarily apply to every vehicle, and it's your responsibility to review the vehicle's owner's manual to get an accurate idea.

How can you tell when your car's cooling system needs to be flushed?


Although it's mentioned directly in your vehicle's owner’s manual about how often you should change the coolant, there are some scenarios where you might need a coolant flush earlier on. Therefore, you need to keep an eye for some of the common symptoms indicating that your cooling system needs to be flushed:

1.    High-temperature gauge reading

The temperature gauge on the vehicle’s dashboard represents how hot your vehicle's engine is. If you notice that this dashboard is showing significantly higher readings than usual, it might be an indication that your vehicle is due for a coolant flush.

Obviously, engine overheating can happen due to various reasons that could include some leaking in the cooling system. But, if you confirm that the coolant level is not very low, you might want to consider flushing the coolant. The best course of action at this point is to reach out to you're a professional mechanic, and confirm whether the temperature is high because you need a coolant flush or not.

2.    Coolant leaks

Although coolant leaks because of breakage in the cooling lines or around the radiator or the water pump, sometimes, if the coolant is dirty, it increases the pressure and causes some coolant leaks. There might be some smaller and minor cracks around the tubes, but these cracks will not let's coolant out of the system. However, when the coolant carries a lot of debris and contaminants, and the pressure is much higher, the smaller cracks might get bigger, allowing coolant to leak around the vehicle.

3.    Weird noises

As a rule of thumb, automotive experts recommend never underestimate any weird noise coming from your vehicle. For example, among the strange noises that might be linked to internal problems, hissing noise from underneath the hood might indicate a need for a coolant flush.

4.    Cracks on the hoses

As we indicated earlier, a dirty coolant causes bigger cracks around the hoses and different connections within your cooling system. Therefore, it is recommended that you perform a visual inspection to check for any signs of damage is or cracks around these hoses. Once you notice any of these symptoms, you cool it might be due for a flush, and your mechanic must take care of any cracks before pouring the new coolant, so you don't deal with the current leak immediately after the flush.

5.    Low coolant level

Obviously, with a dirty coolant and cracks around the cooling system hoses, you'll notice a drop in the vehicle's coolant level. Take a closer look at the coolant reservoir and see if there is a clear sign of coolant level drop. If that happens, it might indicate an internal leak or could probably be related to a need for a coolant flush.

6.    Different coolant color

When you pour a new clone in your vehicle, it comes in a unique color like yellow, green, or pink. If you notice that the coolant color is different from what it was, it indicates that it is due for a flush because it got dirtier. Once you see that, you must consult your mechanic and have him perform a coolant flush to maintain your vehicle and prevent dealing with engine overheating issues.

7.    Cold air from the vents during hot air set up

Finally, your vehicle is due for a coolant flush if you notice cold air coming from the vents when you turn on the heating system. Since the heating system is linked somehow to the radiator, when the radiator has an issue with the coolant, it will not perform it should, and the heating system will not work as well.

How much does a coolant system flush cost?

The coolant flush should cost you somewhere between $100 and $150. Obviously, this range differs significantly depending on your vehicle's brand and the location we get the job done. For example, some people prefer dealerships to get the coolant flushed to ensure that experts mechanics do the job. On the other hand, other people prefer to save on money and get the coolant flush done at a small independent shop or by themselves at home.

What happens if you don't flush your coolant?

If you ignored the coolant flush, you would sacrifice major engine problems. In addition, when the coolant has many contaminants and debris, it becomes dirty, and it will not be able to do its job by bringing the entrance temperature to the optimum level.

A dirty coolant will have much higher pressure which means that if there are any minor cracks around the cooling system, these cracks can grow and become bigger where coolant starts leaking on the ground. A leaking coolant is another major issue because it drops the coolant level significantly. Since your engine requires a certain level of coolant, your vehicle will not be able to maintain the engine temperature, and eventually, you will end up with complete engine damage.

Of course, if you missed the coolant flush for a short time, it should not be a big problem because the negative consequences do not happen immediately after you miss one day. However, you will notice the big issue is the longer you ignore the coolant flush. Remember that the engine failure will not happen immediately because you will see some other symptoms indicating that your coolant flush started showing some impacts. For instance, you'll notice that the engine will continuously have overheating issues, and you will see that the coolant is leaking underneath the vehicle.

Can I do a coolant flush myself?

Yes, the coolant flush is not a labor-intensive job, and it's not very complicated. Even people with minimum mechanical experience can perform the current flush successfully. However, you must go through some of the available tutorials on the web or on YouTube to get a better idea about how you should perform the coolant flush, so you don't cause damage is by mistakes.

In general, automotive experts indicated that mostly I was do not work the first time. You should be very careful about performing any maintenance by yourself unless you're 100% comfortable.


Engine overheating is one of the common engine problems that any driver doesn't want to deal with. It immediately results in engine damages that could cost you thousands of dollars. Luckily, your vehicle consists of several systems interacting with each other to bring the engine temperature down. One of these systems is the cooling system.

The cooling system relies on a coolant fluid that runs around the engine to suck up any excess temperature. Over youth, you need to perform a coolant flush where you replace the old coolant with a new one. The current flush must be performed once every 30,000 miles, or five years whichever comes first. However, there are some instances where you must perform the court flush before that whenever you see symptoms indicating that your vehicle is due for a colon flush.

If you're interested in “how can you tell when your car's cooling system needs to be flushed?” Consider checking for these symptoms: a coolant temperature gauge showing a high reading, coolant leak, coolant tube cracks, etc.

Sometimes your cooling system problems might not be resolved only by a coolant flush. Therefore, you mustn't waste your time and money trying to get it to work. Instead, you might want to sell your vehicle and use the money towards a better car with no major problems.

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