How to Drain the Radiator in Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

It's a good idea to drain and fill the radiator of your Chevrolet car to perform regular scheduled maintenance on it and replace the coolant. Although it's not as good a service as a coolant system flush. If you are draining the radiator with the intent to remove it afterward, be aware that this is the easiest part of the that procedure and if you have to look up how to do it, you may want to consider going to a qualified technician to do it.

Under The Hood:

 How to Drain the Radiator in a Venture Van

Drive the Venture Van onto ramps; turn off the engine and set the parking brake. If the engine is hot, let it cool down for a few hours before continuing. You might want to do this step the night before you do the following steps to ensure the Venture has completely cooled before opening the cooling system.

Raise the hood and open the coolant overflow tank to allow the cooling system to vent.

Slide underneath and position the catch pan under the radiator on the driver’s side at the front of the Venture's engine compartment.

Insert the Allen wrench into the radiator drain plug, located at the bottom left corner of the radiator, and loosen the plug by turning it counterclockwise until coolant begins to pour out and into the catch pan.

Items you will need

  • Ramps

  • Catch pan

  • Allen wrench

 How to Drain a Radiator for a 2003 Chevy Malibu

Raise the hood of your Malibu. Make sure the engine is cool and remove the radiator cap. The cooling system is under high pressure when it is hot, so do not try to remove the cap if the engine is not cool.

Raise the front of the car with a jack and position a set of jack stands beneath the car, just behind the front tires. Remove the jack once the jack stands are secure.

Locate the radiator drain plug on the driver side of the radiator near the bottom. The drain plug is a small, white cylinder. Position a large drain pan beneath the radiator drain.

Turn the radiator drain plug counterclockwise ¼ turn by hand to loosen it. The plug will not come completely out of the radiator.

Wait while the radiator drains completely. Once the coolant has drained, tighten the drain plug by turning it by hand ¼ turn clockwise.

Raise the car slightly with the jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the car to the ground. Fill the radiator with coolant, replace the radiator cap and close the hood before driving the car.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Large drain pan

 How to Drain the Radiator in a Chevy Tahoe

Park the Tahoe on a flat surface and open the hood. Do not perform this procedure under any circumstance when the motor is hot. If the motor is hot, allow time to let it cool.

Put on the safety glasses and crawl under the front of the Tahoe on a creeper if you have one. Follow the side rails of the radiator near the bottom on both sides to locate the drain plug. The location of the drain plug will depend on the motor, size of the radiator and year of the Tahoe. Some earlier models may need to be drained by removing the lower radiator hose, but most later-model and aftermarket replacement radiators have drain plugs. If the drain plug is present, place the drain bucket strategically beneath it and turn the plug counterclockwise. You may need to convince it with the channel locks. Make sure to be out of the line of fire when the drain plug opens.

Move the clamp on the lower radiator hose by squeezing it with the channel locks (if it's a self-locking clamp) or by loosening it with a screwdriver, if you cannot find a drain plug. Pry the lower radiator hose off and be prepared for splashing and a mess.

Crawl back out from underneath the Tahoe and remove the radiator cap. This will create an air vent and allow the antifreeze to purge more quickly from the drain plug and/or lower radiator hose.

Close the drain plug by turning it clockwise when the radiator has drained or, if needed, replace the lower radiator hose and clamp. Fill the system with antifreeze approved for your Chevy Tahoe (Dex-cool antifreeze) and allow the Tahoe to run up to operating temperature with the radiator cap still removed and the drain bucket strategically placed beneath it. This will allow the radiator system to purge air bubbles and bleed itself. Check the antifreeze and adjust the level as necessary for the next three normal operations.

Items you will need

  • Safety glasses

  • Creeper (optional)

  • Antifreeze drain bucket

  • Channel locks (optional)

  • Screwdriver (optional)

  • Shop rags

  • Garden hose

 How to Drain a Radiator for a Chevy Blazer

Park the Blazer on a level surface. Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left and shut the Blazer off. Do not attempt to drain a radiator or open the radiator cap when the vehicle is warm/hot. Allow it to cool down. Release the hood latch and open the hood.

Remove the radiator cap slowly. Allow any built up pressure to release before removing the cap altogether.

Remove the right front fender skirt plastic plugs in front of the right front tire. You do not have to remove the entire skirt, but enough to get your hand into the lower engine compartment and be able to see what you're doing.

Locate the drain plug on the radiator on the lower right hand (passenger side) of the radiator.

Grab the drain bucket and place it under the Blazer strategically beneath the drain plug. Unfortunately, the fluid is still going to spread out and make a mess so get ready with some rags, towels, or old sheets.

Turn the drain plug counterclockwise until it opens enough to begin draining fluid. The less you turn the plug, the less fluid will drain, and the more controlled you can maintain the spillage. However, the longer it will take for the radiator to thoroughly drain. Allow the radiator to drain completely before continuing.

Squeeze the upper radiator hose by hand to purge fluid from it into the radiator.

Move the clamp on the lower radiator hose with a pair of channel locks or loosen it with a screwdriver (depending on the type of clamp) and move it out of the way.

Pry the lower hose off with a screwdriver to allow the fluid in there to drain and replace the hose and clamp back onto the radiator securely.

Wipe the ground area up well when you're finished thoroughly and spray the driveway or yard with a garden hose to dilute any spillage of antifreeze. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste and will attract family and neighborhood pets or animals and is highly toxic.

Items you will need

  • Drain bucket

  • Channel locks

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Shop rags

  • Garden hose

About the Author

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