How to Change the Coolant in Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Chevrolet car lost the convertible option of previous years and offered only sedan and coupe options. It was produced from a similar design of the Chevrolet car Cavalier, another General Motors model. The Chevrolet car has traditionally been Chevrolet car lowest-priced offering and was intended as a low-hassle vehicle. Changing the radiator coolant on the Chevrolet car is a time-consuming process, but you can save some money if you do it yourself rather than taking the car to the shop.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Coolant in a 97 Cavalier

Allow your vehicle's engine to cool completely before attempting to service your cooling system. Hot antifreeze can cause serious injury when under pressure.

Locate the black plastic splash shield underneath your vehicle's radiator, slightly forward of the front bumper cover. Remove the bolts securing the splash shield to your vehicle using an appropriate size socket and ratchet. Place the splash shield aside along with the mounting bolts.

Locate drain on the bottom driver’s side portion of the radiator, facing the front of the vehicle. The radiator drain cap has a small tab protruding from the middle designed for easy finger access.

Place your anti-freeze drain pan container on the ground, directly underneath the radiator's drain. Open the radiator's drain with your fingers, using a counter clockwise motion. Spray penetrating lubricant on the drain if you have difficulty opening it. Allow all the coolant in your vehicle to drain into the anti-freeze drain pan container.

Close the drain by twisting it with your fingers counterclockwise after all the coolant has sufficiently drained into the container and reinstall the splash shield. Open your vehicle’s hood and remove the coolant reservoir cap located in the engine compartment, near the passenger side front fender. Fill the coolant reservoir with a 50/50 blend of DEX-COOL and distilled water until the anti-freeze level reaches the “MAX” line visible on the coolant reservoir.

Locate the large black upper radiator hose that attaches from the top side of the engine to the radiator. Remove the bleed screw on the aluminum thermostat housing on the engine, connected to the upper radiator hose with an appropriate size socket and ratchet.

Reinstall the thermostat bleed screw once coolant begins flowing out of the hole. Performing this step will purge the cooling system of air.

Start your vehicle and allow it to run for a couple minutes. Recheck your coolant reservoir level and fill the reservoir back up to the “MAX” fill line to complete the process.

Items you will need

  • Socket and ratchet set

  • Anti-Freeze drain pan container

  • Penetrating lubricant spray

  • 3 1/2 gallons of premixed DEX-COOL anti-freeze

 How to Change the Coolant for a 2001 Pontiac Sunfire

Park your Sunfire in a safe area where you have room to work, and where pets and children will not have access to the vehicle. Coolant has a sweet smell that can attract kids and animals, but it is extremely toxic. Turn off the car and let the engine cool off.

Open the drain valve in your radiator and let the coolant pour out from the engine into a drainage bucket. A 2-gallon bucket should be large enough to accommodate the coolant.

Close the valve and fill the radiator with a mixture of water and an engine flush. The flush directions should tell you how much water needs to be mixed with it. This is designed to clean the radiator and coolant system before you add new fluid.

Start the car and run your engine at normal idle with the heater on high for about 10 minutes. Turn the engine off and drain the flush mixture into your drainage bucket as you did earlier. Once the engine is cool, fill the radiator with water.

Turn on the car again and run the engine for another 15 minutes at normal idle. Then turn off the car and drain the water from the radiator drain valve.

Add new coolant to fill the radiator. You may need to add water as well, depending on whether your coolant is premixed. Follow the instructions on the back of your coolant container.

Start the Sunfire and run the engine at normal idle with the heater on high for 15 minutes to circulate the new coolant throughout the engine.

Items you will need

  • Drainage bucket

  • Water

  • Engine flush

  • Coolant

 How to Change the Coolant in a 2005 Chevrolet 5.3L

Park the 2005 Chevrolet 5.3L in a safe working location. Turn off the motor, open the hood and allow the vehicle to cool down for at least an hour.

Tap the radiator with the palm of your hand to ensure that the radiator cap is not hot. Slowly unscrew and remove the radiator cap. Set the cap to the side.

Slide under the engine on the driver's side and locate the large coolant drain bolt on the engine block between the exhaust manifold connection and the oil filter. You will see two drain bolts in this area. The coolant drain bolt is the larger 17 mm bolt that is positioned lower than the other bolt. Slide the drip pan under the coolant drain bolt.

Loosen the coolant drain bolt from the engine block with the ratchet and hex socket. Allow all of the coolant to drain out of the radiator. Then, screw the drain plug back in and tighten with the ratchet and the hex socket.

Move up to the top side of the engine and begin filling the radiator with antifreeze or Dexcool antifreeze. Once the radiator is full, start the car and let the engine run for about five minutes so that it reaches its normal operating temperature.

Check the antifreeze fluid level by looking inside the radiator fill neck. It should be low because the running engine allowed the thermostat to open, circulating the antifreeze out of the radiator and into the engine block. Add antifreeze to the radiator with the engine running until the antifreeze level stabilizes at the top of the radiator fill neck. Put the radiator cap back on and turn the engine off.

Pull the drip pan out from under the Chevrolet and shut the hood.

Items you will need

  • Drip pan

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • Hex-head socket (17 mm)

  • New antifreeze

 How to Change the Coolant on a Chevy S-10

Drive the S-10 up onto the ramps, and apply the parking brake.

Release the hood latch and open up the hood. If the engine is hot or warm, allow the engine and cooling system to cool down before proceeding.

Slowly remove the radiator cap. Allow any pressure built up inside the radiator to escape through the radiator cap slowly before you fully remove the cap.

Crawl underneath the front of the truck with the catch pan, and use a screwdriver to remove any splash shields that may be covering the bottom of the radiator on your model S-10.

Place the catch pan beneath the petcock on the lower passenger side of the radiator. Turn the petcock counterclockwise by hand to open the valve, and allow the coolant to drain thoroughly from the radiator into the catch pan. If your radiator does not feature a petcock, remove the lower radiator hose in order to drain the radiator. Do this by loosening the clamp on the radiator side of the hose with a screwdriver (for a band-clamp style) or a pair of channel locks (for a spring-clamp style).

Tighten the petcock (or replace the lower radiator hose and clamp).

Add the radiator flush additive into the radiator, then fill it with water from the garden hose. Replace the radiator cap.

Start the engine and set the heater to high.

Siphon the antifreeze from the coolant reservoir into the catch pan. Drain the fluid in the catch pan into an empty jug for disposal. Replace the catch pan beneath the petcock of the radiator.

Shut the engine down once the cooling fan turns on. Allow the system to cool again.

Drain the contents of the radiator again into the catch pan, then close the petcock. Open the radiator cap and fill the radiator with water. Keep the garden hose nearby.

Start the engine again and allow it to run (with the radiator cap off) until the cooling fan starts. Open the petcock over the catch pan--be careful, because the water will be hot.

Begin filling the radiator with the garden hose at the same rate the water is draining from the petcock. Once the water looks clear, shut the engine down and allow the water to drain into the catch pan. Close the petcock when the radiator is fully drained.

Add the radiator coolant additive to the radiator. Fill the radiator with Dex-cool antifreeze (1 gallon mixed with 1 gallon water). When the radiator will take no more, fill the coolant reservoir to the full level.

Start the engine with the radiator cap off, and allow burping coolant to fall into the catch pan beneath the radiator neck. Squeeze the upper and lower radiator hoses occasionally to purge more air from the cooling system. Add more mixed antifreeze when necessary.

Lower the S-10 off the ramps, and check the coolant level in the radiator. Add coolant if needed. Replace the cap, and drive the S-10 for 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow the engine to cool again. Recheck the coolant level in the radiator and reservoir. Add more coolant if necessary.

Items you will need

  • Car ramps

  • 3-gallon catch pan

  • Screwdriver set

  • Channel locks

  • Siphon

  • Radiator flush kit

  • Coolant additive

  • Garden hose

  • Dex-cool antifreeze

About the Author

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