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How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? #5271385 11/18/19 10:58 PM
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Whammo Offline OP
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I need a coolant flush soon but I was wondering how thorough the auto shops do it? I know auto shops want the cars in the bays for the least time possible and a thorough coolant flush can take a couple hours or more (waiting for drainage/temps to be right in engine, etc). Do they just flush it once and put new coolant in or do they wait for it to drain fully and flush it again or? What is your experience?

Also do they use tap water generally?

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271394 11/18/19 11:10 PM
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user52165 Online Content
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FWIW - first two that came up, no experience with them other than to say these quick machines do exist:

https://smile.amazon.com/Robinair-75700-CoolTech-Coolant-Exchanger/dp/B000FN6FJM/ref=sr_1_3?

https://www.tooldiscounter.com/prod...coolant-system-fluid-exchanger-mahmcx-2?

I use the Lisle funnel system and it never takes more than an hour. Most time is waiting for the thermo to open and the electric fan to kick on.

Last edited by user52165; 11/18/19 11:29 PM.
Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271422 11/19/19 12:05 AM
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Chris142 Online Content
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I use air and water to blow out what I can followed by filtered water. Takes me at least 4 hrs start to finish


02 Wrangler Napa high milage 10w40
87 F250 Valvoline 15w40
07 fjcruiser Car lube plus 10w30
Z400 castrol T 10w40
Can am Maveric edge 5w40
57 case tractor Chevron sae30
Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271432 11/19/19 12:40 AM
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CharlieBauer Offline
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A shop with an exchange machine has the theoretical ability to replace all the coolant and charge you less than a shop that does repeated drain and fills.

https://www.pepboys.com/service/repair-services/fluid-exchange-services-2

https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/maintain/radiator/


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that ain't so.

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Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271461 11/19/19 04:18 AM
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Railrust Offline
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Depends if they have an exchange machine, if they do, then yes they will exchange all of the fluid. Problem is they will also use tap water unless they are using coolant that is already premixed.

You probably should also ask what coolant they will be using, because more than a few shops will only use a universal coolant...not saying that's "bad", but if you want factory coolant you may not be getting it.

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271508 11/19/19 06:17 AM
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Donald Offline
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Another case of the consumer needs to be informed. Whatever a shop does is probably better than leaving in coolant that is past its prime, but the service could be even better if the factory coolant and distilled water was used.


2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271516 11/19/19 06:27 AM
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demarpaint Offline
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They're like any other service performed at a shop, as good as the tech doing the job.


God Bless Our Troops

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271530 11/19/19 06:51 AM
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Pelican Offline
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Originally Posted by Whammo
I need a coolant flush soon but I was wondering how thorough the auto shops do it? I know auto shops want the cars in the bays for the least time possible and a thorough coolant flush can take a couple hours or more (waiting for drainage/temps to be right in engine, etc). Do they just flush it once and put new coolant in or do they wait for it to drain fully and flush it again or? What is your experience?
Also do they use tap water generally?


As others have said if the shop has invested int a machine to do the exchange they'll probably do a good job and use pre mixed coolant.
Many shops are short sighted and see the machine as an expense rather than an additional way to make money, as the mechanic can do other things while the machine does the emptying & filling. These days it seems that vehicles are made to be handled mainly by machines, we are supervising. wink

Last edited by Pelican; 11/19/19 06:52 AM.
Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271683 11/19/19 10:16 AM
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You're using "shops" in the plural; to me, that's insinuating that YOU don't have a "favorite," or, worse, a TRUSTED shop in mind. All I can really tell you is my experience. A couple years ago, I got what I thought was too good a deal to pass up on a used car out of state. It took Herculean efforts ( I replaced upper & lower intake manifold gaskets in a hotel parking lot), but I got the car home....Told the wife that the cooling system (which looked like mud) was going to need a new radiator...I paid a local independent shop to "flush" my cooling system. They didn't know that I had already drawn a sample of the dirty coolant for comparison and baseline to see what they would accomplish.
I wasted my money. Couldn't really see a lot of difference AFTER the "flush," so I went to few parts stores...Bought Prestone coolant flush, BG, Irontite, and a few I can't remember. I spent most of a day with a garden hose; removed my thermostat and flushed & flushed & flushed, saving samples each time in clear plastic cups to visualize what was happening, and I wasn't happy with my own work. Finally, I don't remember where I heard/read about it (maybe BITOG), but I went to a Farm store and bought some Citric acid. It's also available at Walmart, used for canning tomatoes.
Citric Acid (and distilled water), without a thermostat, running my engine for an hour or so, cleaned my system so well that it now looks like new coolant, my digital readout on water temp runs about 15 degrees cooler, and I DIDN'T replace the radiator.

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Ihatetochangeoil] #5271761 11/19/19 11:39 AM
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DweezilAZ Offline
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Originally Posted by Ihatetochangeoil
You're using "shops" in the plural; to me, that's insinuating that YOU don't have a "favorite," or, worse, a TRUSTED shop in mind. All I can really tell you is my experience. A couple years ago, I got what I thought was too good a deal to pass up on a used car out of state. It took Herculean efforts ( I replaced upper & lower intake manifold gaskets in a hotel parking lot), but I got the car home....Told the wife that the cooling system (which looked like mud) was going to need a new radiator...I paid a local independent shop to "flush" my cooling system. They didn't know that I had already drawn a sample of the dirty coolant for comparison and baseline to see what they would accomplish.
I wasted my money. Couldn't really see a lot of difference AFTER the "flush," so I went to few parts stores...Bought Prestone coolant flush, BG, Irontite, and a few I can't remember. I spent most of a day with a garden hose; removed my thermostat and flushed & flushed & flushed, saving samples each time in clear plastic cups to visualize what was happening, and I wasn't happy with my own work. Finally, I don't remember where I heard/read about it (maybe BITOG), but I went to a Farm store and bought some Citric acid. It's also available at Walmart, used for canning tomatoes.
Citric Acid (and distilled water), without a thermostat, running my engine for an hour or so, cleaned my system so well that it now looks like new coolant, my digital readout on water temp runs about 15 degrees cooler, and I DIDN'T replace the radiator.

I use citric acid in the dishwasher to keep soap scum off the dishes and the machine clean [along with vinegar]. It's what's called "Lemi Shine" in the stores. Bulk is much cheaper.

Good to know it works to clean coolant systems too.

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Railrust] #5271791 11/19/19 12:17 PM
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Chris142 Online Content
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Originally Posted by Railrust
Depends if they have an exchange machine, if they do, then yes they will exchange all of the fluid. Problem is they will also use tap water unless they are using coolant that is already premixed.

.

not me. we have a water filter system.


02 Wrangler Napa high milage 10w40
87 F250 Valvoline 15w40
07 fjcruiser Car lube plus 10w30
Z400 castrol T 10w40
Can am Maveric edge 5w40
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Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Chris142] #5271796 11/19/19 12:21 PM
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kschachn Offline
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What kind of filter do you have?


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Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5271829 11/19/19 01:06 PM
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user52165 Online Content
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It depends greatly on what type engine you have. An aluminum block and heads will pollute the coolant far less than cast iron. But that is not to say coolant exchange should be postponed or ignored just because it "looks good".

Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5272049 11/19/19 05:58 PM
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GoldDot40 Offline
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The difference in terminology can be a factor and sometimes gives an impression of false advertisement.

When I ran service shops....we offered a coolant "flush" and simply a coolant "exchange". 2 different services with 2 different prices.

The simple exchange service was done via a gravity fed apparatus. There were NO helper pumps or otherwise that could over pressurize the system. The water pump and thermostat of the vehicle did all the "work". On most vehicles, you simply made a connection to the upper radiator hose itself...then to the upper hose inlet on the radiator. Warm the vehicle up and allow the thermostat to open...it would evacuate old coolant into a waste tank. This made room for the new coolant to feed in....via gravity. We would let it run the cycle until we got at least a quart of clean coolant coming out the waste side.

The "flush" service involved cleaning chemicals added to the vehicle and allowed to circulate for about 10-15 min. The machine was already hooked up, but it allowed the coolant to complete the circuit until you flipped it ON, then it evacuated the old and supplied the system with new. The hoses had clear sections so you could see the condition before, during, and at the end. We used Wynn's chemicals and machine for the "flush" service.

Our coolant came 50/50 premixed in drums...whether it was conventional green or universal extended life. We never had to add water to the mixture. Both would always test at -34°F for freeze protection. If a customer wanted OE formula coolant, we would have it delivered or the customer was free to supply it. Didn't make financial sense to keep and dozen manufacturer specific coolants in inventory.


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Re: How thorough are coolant flushes at auto shops? [Re: Whammo] #5272282 11/20/19 04:47 AM
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Our Defender while maintaining it's coolant temperature perfectly fine was full of rust and scale. It's history unknown and the radiator fins were starting to rot out and the hoses were perished so I decided to do a full overhaul.

I tee'd into the existing heater hose and removed the thermostat. I connected my household hose into the tee and run it at a very slow trickle with the header tank cap off. I started the engine and run it at a fast idle until the water started running clear our of the header tank.

I then stripped down the cooling system, replaced the heater matrix, radiator, thermostat, all the hoses and the water pump and filled up with fresh coolant.

That was a year ago and the coolant is still squeeky clean.


19 Volvo V40 D3 Auto - 96 Defender 300TDi - 03 Ford Mondeo ST 3.0 V6
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