How to Drain the Radiator in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Draining the radiator in your Oldsmobile car is not difficult to do. Changing the antifreeze in your system is recommended since any petroleum-based fluid that heats up and cools down constantly breaks down chemically after time. Just remember that a drain and fill of the radiator is not getting all of the antifreeze out of the water table in your engine. A coolant system flush is a superior service to just draining the radiator. But draining and filling your radiator is better than not performing any maintenance on the coolant system at all.

Under The Hood:

 How to Drain the Radiator in a 1998 Dodge Dakota

Allow the engine to cool completely if it has been running. Open the hood of your Dodge Dakota and prop the hood on the support rod. Remove the cap from the radiator.

Raise the truck with a jack and secure it on a set of jack stands. Remove the jack once the truck is supported on the jack stands.

Locate the radiator drain plug at the base of the radiator on the driver side. The plug is located on the engine side near the bottom of the radiator. Position a large drain pan beneath the radiator drain plug.

Loosen the radiator drain plug by hand and remove it. Allow the coolant to drain completely from the system. Replace the drain plug once the radiator is empty.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Large drain pan

 How to Drain the Radiator in a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am

Turn off the vehicle's engine and shift the transmission into park. Apply the emergency brake and open the hood. Disconnect the negative battery terminal with a battery terminal wrench.

Crawl underneath the front of the vehicle and locate the drain valve. It is on the lower right side of the radiator. Place a drain pan underneath the valve.

Turn the valve 90 degrees counterclockwise using the 1/4-inch ratchet. Allow the fluid to flow out of the radiator.

Close the valve by rotating it 90 degrees clockwise with the 1/4-inch ratchet once the flow of fluid stops.

Items you will need

  • Battery terminal wrench

  • Drain pan

  • 1/4-inch ratchet

 How to Drain the Radiator on a 2001 Grand Am

Remove the cap from the top of the 2001 Grand Am radiator by lifting the radiator cap lever and turning the cap counterclockwise.

Locate the coolant reservoir overflow tank on the passenger side of the engine compartment and take the cap off the overflow tank.

Locate the drain cock valve on the bottom of the radiator and place a plastic drain pan underneath the drain valve.

Open the drain valve with an open-end wrench and let the coolant drain completely from the radiator.

Find the lower radiator hose that is attached to the bottom of the 2001 Grand Am radiator and unfasten the clamp, using a screwdriver to loosen the screw on the clamp.

Place the drain pan underneath the lower radiator hose at the radiator and slide the hose off the radiator flange, prying it off with a screwdriver to let the remainder of the coolant drain into the pan.

Items you will need

  • Plastic drain pan

  • Open-end wrench

  • Screwdriver

 How do I Drain the Radiator on a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am?

Park the vehicle on level ground.

Place a large container underneath the radiator drain fitting. This is located on the bottom of the radiator near the front of the vehicle.

Attach the 3/8-inch hose to the drain fitting. Direct the end of the hose into the large container. This will ensure that the fluid flows directly into the container.

Place the 1/4-inch drive extension on the drain plug and turn counterclockwise to loosen it. Once loose, the fluid will start draining from the radiator drain fitting.

Remove the coolant reservoir cap. This will allow the radiator to drain more quickly.

Items you will need

  • Large container or oil change pan

  • 3/8-inch drain hose

  • 1/4-inch drive extension

  • Jack (optional)

  • 4 jack stands (optional)

 How to Drain the Radiator on a Jeep Grand Cherokee

How to Drain the Radiator on a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Do not drain the coolant from your Jeep Grand Cherokee until the engine and coolant have cooled down. This is not something you should attempt to perform after taking a trip to the parts store to get more coolant to replace or any other errands. This should be done only before the Grand Cherokee has been started for the day. Open the hood to allow light down into the engine compartment.

Put on your safety glasses and crawl under the Jeep on a creeper to locate the radiator drain plug. On a 4.0 liter engine, it will be on the right (passenger side) side of the inside of the radiator and on a 4.7 liter engine, it will be on the left (driver's side) side of the inside of the radiator. Once you've located the drain plug, loosen it slightly to manipulate with your fingers only. Move out of the way and place the drain bucket strategically beneath the drain plug and carefully open it until it begins to trickle into the bucket. Open the drain plug wider and adjust the bucket as you need to in order to prevent major spillage.

While that is draining into the bucket, crawl back out from under the Grand Cherokee and remove the radiator cap from the radiator. This will create an air vent and allow the coolant to purge more quickly from the drain plug. Be quick and agile so you can adjust the drain bucket again if need be.

Allow the radiator coolant and overflow reservoir coolant to drain thoroughly before tightening the drain plug.

Replace the antifreeze into the radiator when you're done using the same antifreeze from the drain bucket or a 50-percent mixed antifreeze recommended for your year Jeep Grand Cherokee. You will need to start the engine and allow it to warm up with the radiator cap off. Let it burp and purge air from the system. This should be done on at least three warm up/cool down cycles to ensure you've replaced enough antifreeze in the system. Lastly, replace the radiator cap.

Items you will need

  • Wide, flat drain bucket preferably with a spout (at least 3 to 4 gallon capacity)

  • Creeper (optional)

  • Shop rags

  • Safety glasses

  • Pliers

 How to Drain the Radiator on Honda Accord

How to Drain the Radiator on a Honda Accord

Park the vehicle on a flat, level, paved or concrete surface. Place the vehicle in park or in gear and apply the parking brake. If the car has been driven, allow for it to cool down. To ensure it is cool enough not to inflict injury, touch the upper radiator hose, or the radiator itself, with caution. If you can touch either one without feeling a great deal of heat, you can probably perform this task relatively safely. If not, allow more time to cool down.

Release the hood release lever from inside the vehicle.

Locate the hood lever at the front center of the hood, move to the right and lift the hood. Place the hood prop into the allocated hole on the underside of the hood unless hydraulic hood prop pistons are present.

Place a wheel chock behind one or both rear tires.

Lift the vehicle by one front quarter panel and place a jack stand under the front rocker panel with the obvious lift point extension protruding from it. This is located directly behind each front tire. Repeat the procedure on the opposite side.

Open the radiator cap slowly. Allow any pressure to purge out as you release the cap. Remove when you no longer hear pressurized air escaping.

Lay down underneath the front of the vehicle so you see the bottom of the radiator. Locate the drain radiator drain plug. This will be somewhere along the bottom rail of the radiator. Some older Accords had the plug on the left center--a few years later, it was placed on the right center. Wherever it is, it will be an obvious fixed plug that will resemble a wing-nut of sorts. Once you have found it, place the antifreeze drain bucket close by. You're probably going to have to loosen the plug first and you may need the pair of pliers to do so--but before you loosen it enough to purge the fluid, have the drain bucket handy to place underneath quickly and minimize any major spillage.

Loosen the plug and place the drain bucket in place. Most radiator plug are fixed and cannot be removed from the radiator. They loosen enough to allow the antifreeze to drain and then stay intact with the radiator so you shouldn't have to try to remove the plug altogether.

Allow the radiator to drain thoroughly. Retighten the plug when done. It is recommended to have the vehicle lowered and level on the ground before adding antifreeze. Replace the radiator cap, release the parking brake and remove the wheel chock(s) when done.

Items you will need

  • Green antifreeze drain bucket with spout Floor jack Jack stands (2) Pliers Wheel chock

 How to Drain the Radiator of a Ford Ranger

Allow the Ranger to cool down before attempting to drain the radiator. Open the hood and remove the radiator cap.

Locate the drain cock at the bottom of the radiator on the left or right side. You may need to remove some splash shields or skirting to obtain access depending on the year and motor size of the Ranger.

Place the drain bucket strategically beneath the drain-cock location and turn the drain cock counterclockwise until antifreeze begins to pour out. You may need to use pliers or channel locks to convince the drain cock to turn at first.

Allow the radiator to drain thoroughly into the drain bucket.

Turn the drain cock clockwise to tighten when the radiator is finished draining. Refill radiator with antifreeze when desired and replace the radiator cap.

Items you will need

  • Antifreeze drain bucket with spout and handles

  • Pliers or channel locks

 How to Drain the Radiator on a Sierra

Raise the Sierra with a jack and position it on a set of jack stands. Allow the engine to cool completely if the truck has been running.

Position a large drain pan or bucket beneath the radiator drain plug. The drain plug on the GMC Sierra is located at the base of the radiator on the driver side of the truck.

Loosen the radiator drain plug with a wrench. Turn the plug counterclockwise to loosen it until coolant flows from the drain.

Allow the coolant to drain completely from the radiator. Replace and tighten the radiator drain plug using a wrench.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Drain pan or bucket

  • Wrench set

 How to Drain a Radiator on an Oldsmobile Cutlass

Park the Oldsmobile Cutlass on a flat paved surface and allow the engine to cool down. Do not attempt to drain antifreeze on a warm or hot engine. Apply the parking brake. Release the hood latch and open the hood.

Put on safety glasses. Place a wheel chock behind one of the rear tires. Remove the radiator cap slowly. Even with the engine cold, there may be some pressure in the coolant system, but at least it won't burn you if it purges out a little.

Lift one front side of the Cutlass with the floor jack and place the jack stand under the front frame rail. Repeat this step for the other side to elevate the front of the Cutlass. Crawl underneath the front with the drain bucket and the pliers. You could use a creeper if you had one, but chances are you wouldn't have enough room on one.

Locate the drain cock at the bottom of the radiator. It will be on the lower left or right hand side depending on the year of the Cutlass and the engine size. Place the drain bucket beneath the drain cock and turn the drain cock counterclockwise until antifreeze begins to purge out of the radiator. You may need to convince the drain cock with the pliers. You could also remove the bottom radiator hose to drain the radiator. It's quicker and much messier, but just as effective. You'd have to loosen the clamp on the hose attached to the lower radiator outlet with the pliers (for a press clamp) or a screwdriver (for a screw clamp) and pry the hose off of the outlet.

Allow time for the radiator to drain completely. Tighten the drain cock by turning it clockwise when finished or replace the lower radiator hose and tighten the clamp.

Clean up any spilled antifreeze immediately. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste which can attract small children or pets and be extremely poisonous if ingested.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands (2)

  • Wheel chock

  • Antifreeze drain bucket (green and shallow with a spout and handles)

  • Pliers or channel locks

  • Screwdriver (optional)

  • Safety glasses

 How to Drain the Radiator on a 2002 Buick LeSabre

Allow the engine to cool if it has been running. If the vehicle is hot, allow at least two hours.

Apply the parking brake. Lift the hood and prop it open.

Lift one front quarter panel (from the side) with a jack high enough to place a jack stand under the front frame. Repeat for the other front quarter panel.

Place the drain pan underneath the lower radiator hose attached to the radiator.

Crimp the lower radiator hose clamp with a pair of channel locks by squeezing the two tabs together and sliding it up along the length of the hose away from the radiator, about three inches. If an aftermarket radiator clamp has been used, loosen the screw of the clamp with a screwdriver until you can move and slide the hose.

Remove the lower radiator hose carefully from the radiator. You will need to twist and pull simultaneously to get the hose free. Be aware that the antifreeze will gush from the radiator and lower radiator hose once disconnected, so be ready to move the drain pan if necessary.

Remove the radiator cap from the top of the radiator while the radiator is draining from the bottom. This will create a vacuum and allow the radiator to drain more quickly.

Allow the radiator and lower radiator hose to drain fully to sporadic drips.

Reattach the lower radiator hose to the radiator. Twist the hose back and forth while pushing it onto the lower radiator hose spout.

Recrimp the original radiator clamp with the channel locks to slide it back into place. In the alternative, reposition the aftermarket clamp onto the hose near the spout and retighten it with the screwdriver.

Remove the drain bucket and wipe up any spills with shops rags. Lower the front end of the LeSabre back to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Shallow antifreeze drain pan (2-1/2 gallon or larger)

  • Channel locks or screwdriver

  • Shop rags

 How to Drain a Radiator in an Audi

Park the vehicle on a flat surface.

If the engine has been running, allow it too cool completely.

Remove the radiator cap. On older vehicles it will beon the top of the radiator. On newer vehicles it will be on the coolant expansion tank.

Locate the petcock valve on the lower corner of the radiator.

Place a waste oil collection pan underneath the petcock valve.

Open the petcock valve by turning it counterclockwise.

Allow the radiator to drain completely.

Turn the petcock valve clockwise to close it.

Items you will need

  • Waste oil collection pan

  • Needle nose pliers