How to Fill the Radiator on a Chevy Malibu

by John Stevens J.D.
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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Chevrolet Malibu was one of Chevy’s most popular mid-sized automobiles, and is most commonly associated with the muscle-car era. The Malibu uses a simple cooling system consisting primarily of a radiator, water pump, and thermostat. Keeping the radiator full of fluid is important to prevent overheating and, if in cold climates, to prevent the engine block from freezing. The key to filling the Malibu’s radiator is to wait for the thermostat to open before adding the radiator fluid. It's a simple process that takes only a few minutes.

Step 1

Allow the engine to cool to avoid the risk of serious burns when the radiator cap is removed.

Step 2

Twist the radiator cap in a counterclockwise direction while pressing down on the cap, and then lift the cap off of the radiator.

Step 3

Start the engine and allow it to reach normal operating temperature. Once the engine warms up, the thermostat inside the engine will open and allow the fluid in the radiator to enter the engine. It is only after the fluid level drops that the radiator should be filled.

Step 4

Fill the radiator with antifreeze until the fluid level reaches approximately one inch below the top of the radiator. In the past, radiator antifreeze had to be mixed with water in a 50/50 ratio. Today's antifreeze usually is already diluted to that strength. However, always consult the manufacturer's label instructions to determine if water should be added and, if so, what the proper proportion of water to antifreeze should be. In any case, the fluid is poured into the radiator cap’s opening.

Step 5

Turn the engine off, then install the radiator cap, holding it with a thick rag or leather gloves to avoid burns from inadvertently contacting the hot radiator. The radiator cap must be twisted in a clockwise direction while pressing down on the cap.

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