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How to Tell What My Radiator Coolant Capacity Is

by Mark Robinson

Knowing what your radiator coolant capacity is can mean the difference between keeping your engine at a safe operating temperature and overheating. Having information on your coolant capacity also helps when it comes to adding the proper mixture of water and antifreeze. The process for finding out how much coolant your radiator can hold is relatively simple.

Place a catch pan underneath the radiator and remove the radiator's drain plug with a ratchet and socket. Allow the fluid to drain out of the radiator and replace the drain plug when finished. Drain or siphon all coolant from the overflow reservoir. Dispose of the old coolant in an environmentally-friendly (and legal) manner.

Open the cap on the radiator. Fill several 1 qt. containers with distilled water. Have a pen and pad ready to keep track of number of quarts added into the radiator.

Fill the radiator with water 1 qt. at a time. Record each quart added into the radiator. Most radiator capacities vary from 11 qts. to 28 qts. for most vehicles. Fill the radiator until the water level reaches the expansion tank piping. When finished, tally up the result.

Drain the water from the radiator. Fill the radiator with the appropriate mix of coolant and water. Remove the catch pan and check for leaks. Close the top on the radiator and dispose of the used water. Refill the overflow reservoir to the correct level with coolant.

Tips

  • Most automotive owner's manuals will have the coolant capacity listed along with other specifications. Attempt the steps above only if you cannot find your owner's manual or if the radiator does not come with an instructional manual that lists the coolant capacity.
  • It is recommended that you record the coolant capacity for future reference in a safe, easily accessible area.

Warning

  • Never attempt to remove a hot radiator cap. Hot coolant can spray from the radiator, causing burns and severe injury.

Items you will need

About the Author

Mark Robinson is a freelance graphic designer and writer. Since 2008 he has contributed to various online publications, specializing in topics concerning automotive repair, graphic design and computer technology. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in graphic design from Alabama A&M University.

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Photo Credits

  • radiator humor image by John Sfondilias from Fotolia.com