Is a Coolant Flush Really Necessary? How Much Does it Cost?

When you think of regular vehicle maintenance, the first services that pop into your head are probably things like oil changes, tire rotations, brake services, and maybe alignments. Other than oil changes, all of these other services impact components of your car that you can easily feel while you drive. Misaligned wheels or tires with excessive wear can drastically impact drivability. Brake problems can cause a lot of trouble, ranging from inconvenient to downright dangerous.

The services that don’t directly impact how your day-to-day drive feels are much more likely to be neglected, or even forgotten altogether. If you don’t notice any change, why go out of your way and spend money? It’s easy to fall into that mindset. However, neglecting any service can lead to catastrophe down the road. The absolute best way to ensure reliability is to perform ALL maintenance services at the correct intervals.

Enter the coolant flush. Unless you’ve blown a coolant line or replaced a leaking radiator, you might not give your coolant much thought. Coolant flushes are one of the easy-to-put-off services. If you don’t flush your cooling system, you probably won’t have any issues for many years, and if you do, you won’t notice any real difference when driving your car. However, neglecting coolant flushes can lead to some pretty serious problems down the road, potentially leading to some expensive repairs.

Here’s what to know about flushing your coolant and why it’s necessary!

What is Coolant?

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is a liquid that cycles through your engine block, radiator, and heater core, driven by the water pump. The entire cooling system is responsible for keeping your engine within safe operating temperature by removing access heat. The hot coolant then passes through the radiator and cools down. This process repeats itself the entire time your car is running.

Additionally, hot coolant passes through the heater core, which provides hot air in the cabin of your vehicle on cold mornings and winter days.

Coolant filler

Why Are Regular Coolant Flushes Important?

Coolant flushes are about more than just replacing a liquid. The cooling system has many components, and the antifreeze helps protect them. Keeping all components in the cooling system like the water pump, thermostat, heater core, and hoses in good condition will prevent overheating and reduce the chance of an expensive repair.

Neglecting coolant flushes can lead to some serious issues:

1.) Scale and rust particles will build up in the cooling system over time. If you go too long without flushing your coolant, these particles can clog passages, potentially damaging your heater core or overheating your engine.

2.) Coolant contains anti-corrosive and lubricating additives that help prevent rusting and keep the water pump functioning well. Over time these additives lose their effectiveness, increasing the wear and tear on cooling system components through lack of lubrication and corrosive buildup.

3.) Antifreeze can become acidic as it ages, causing plastics, rubber hoses, and metal components to rapidly corrode. This process is called chemical electrolysis and can be catastrophic if left unaddressed, as it can have harmful effects on the crucial components of the cooling system.

In addition to preventing issues, a coolant flush is an opportunity to inspect the entire cooling system for issues. If contaminants like oil are present in the drained coolant, it can be indicative of other problems.

Up close of a black radiator

What’s Involved in a Coolant Flush?

Generally, this service is not much more involved than draining the antifreeze, adding new liquid, and purging air bubbles from the cooling system, sometimes called “burping”. Letting the vehicle run with the coolant cap off and the heater on high will allow any air pockets in the system, including the heater core, to escape. Air pockets will prevent proper cooling and may lead to overheating.

On vehicles with a lot of buildup and debris in the antifreeze, a coolant flush additive is sometimes used to get all the contaminants out. If the buildup is severe enough, components may need to be replaced.

How Much Does a Coolant Flush Cost?

The cost of a coolant flush depends on your vehicle’s coolant capacity, and whether or not you are flushing the system with chemicals or soap before refilling it. Typically, you can expect to pay between $100 and $150 for this service on most vehicles.

Coolant Flushes at Scott’s U-Save

As you can see, neglecting a coolant flush service is bad news. Staying on top of it, as well as other services like oil changes, brake service, and filter replacements, is the best way to keep your vehicle running reliably.

At Scott’s U-Save, we have teams of ASE-Certified technicians with the skills and experience needed to perform all services, including coolant flushes, on your car. We also offer an extensive tire catalog and aftermarket suspension, wheel, and off-road services. With three locations in Steger and New Lenox, Illinois as well as Schererville, Indiana, one of our shops is a short drive away. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

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