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Continuing my 30k maintenance spree, here's my writeup for a coolant drain and refill. Note this is not a cooling system flush, which I think isn't necessary if you drain and refill every 15 or 30,000 miles.

Also, those of us who had the alternator recall already had a free drain and refill during that service, most likely.

Again, sorry for no pictures, it was a little messy and I doubt my digicam is immune to Prestone "big yellow." Again, my procedure differs from the FSM, but the idea is the same.

Tools:
1 gallon antifreeze (I used Prestone Extended Life, all makes, all models - aka "big yellow" from the mafia commercial)
1 gallon distilled water (the kind from the supermarket)
Alternatively you can buy two gallons of Prestone 50/50 premixed coolant
1 large plastic container to catch coolant (recommended 8qts or more)
A "wide spout" funnel - well not wider than the radiator opening
A phillips screwdriver
A small flathead screwdriver
10mm socket wrench
1 new radiator drain plug gasket (rubber)

Procedure:
1) Start engine and set heater to high (on a MO, just set the drivers temp to max) - this opens up the heater core valve, allowing you to change some of that coolant as well
2) Park on level surface and set parking brake, turn off engine and allow engine to cool.
3) Open hood, and look for the plastic cover over the radiator cap (it has an orange label and is visible through a hole)
4) Remove plastic cover by unscrewing four plastic fasteners. I found the easiest way was to take the phillips screwdriver and give the fasteners a few turns. This should pop up the plastic screw in the middle, which you can pry off with the flathead screwdriver or even your finger nails. Then remove the outer fastener by popping it out with the flathead screwdriver. Note that you cannot remove the outer fastener without first removing the inner plastic screw.
5) Be careful with this next step! With the engine cool, turn the radiator cap 1/4 turn. If the engine is still hot or there is pressure in the system, the cap will stay on but pressure will vent. Then give it another 1/4 turn to remove the cap.
6) Now look under the passenger side front bumper for the plastic shield beneath the radiator. There is a large plastic grommet, maybe 2" in diameter. Pry off the grommet. This will reveal the radiator drain plug.
7) Place your drain pan beneath this hole.
8) Using the phillips screwdriver, unscrew the radiator drain plug - be prepared for a "violent" rush of coolant once the plug is loose. It splashed quite a bit for me, and that coolant is very sticky.
9) It will take a few minutes for the coolant to fully drain.
10) Using the 10mm socket, unbolt the radiator overflow reservoir (behind the windshield washer reservoir). There are two 10mm bolts, one on each side. Then you can lift out the plastic reservoir. I also unclipped the hose clamp at the neck of the radiator (next to the radiator cap) so I could remove the reservoir with the hose.
11) Empty the reservoir and rinse with water if there is any debris left on the bottom (there shouldn't be, unless you've been neglecting your maintenance)
12) Reinstall the reservoir and reattach hose clamp with hose to radiator neck.
13) Now that the coolant has drained, remove old gasket from radiator drain plug, put on the new gasket, and reinstall radiator drain plug. I hand tightened it with the screwdriver. Put the rubber grommet back on.
14) Pour old coolant into waste container - I used old 1 gallon water jugs - this step is needed to figure out how much coolant to pour back in (and the gallon container is used to transport it for recycling - tape the lid down with duct tape.
14) Now make a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water (you can use a bucket like I did, to make 2 gallons worth - you won't use it all though) - if you bought the 50/50 premix, skip this step - in either case, only add the mixture to the car, never straight water or straight coolant - when I say coolant from now on, I mean 50/50 mix.
15) You will not be able to pour back in all the coolant you drained out, since air pockets sometimes form.
16) Place a wide funnel into radiator neck, and s-l-o-w-l-y pour in new coolant mixture - the FSM recommends something like a liter a minute - thats just a trickle. The idea here is pouring slowly will allow any air pockets to work themselves out. Pour until the coolant reaches nearly to the top of the radiator neck (about an inch or so from the top)
17) Reinstall radiator cap.
18) Fill the overflow reservoir to the max line with new coolant. Put on the cap.
19) In my case I drained out about 6 quarts of coolant, and I was only able to pour back in about 5.5 quarts. So I was 1/2 quart down. Thats not a lot.
20) Start the engine and check for leaks - then take the MO for a spin around the neighborhood, maybe for 10 minutes. Fiddle with the AC/heater controls on a variety of settings, from max cool to max heat and in between. We want to get coolant into the heater core too (this is where air pockets tend to form).
21) Return to the garage, park on a level surface and turn off the engine.
22) Wait about 30 minutes. Any air pockets which have worked themselves out will have pulled in coolant from the overflow reservoir. This might be a little low, so add coolant to fill back to the max mark. You might have to add to the overflow tank a few times over the next few days if any air bubbles remain. After my first drive after the cooling system service, I added the last 1/2 quart to the overflow tank (which had also gone down a bit).
22) Viola! You're MO is now as cool as you are.

Update: Make sure to take the used coolant to a place like Autozone or Kragens where they will recycle it for you for free. DO NOT pour it down the drain!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh and I'll leave it to a vote - reply if you think this is helpful and should be made a sticky.
 

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Eric L. said:
Oh and I'll leave it to a vote - reply if you think this is helpful and should be made a sticky.
Eric
Well done on this informative procedure, I would like to see this as a sticky , same as the CVT oil change post .:29: :29:
 

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My vote for a Sticky? :29:

No need for pix. The explanation is very clear. Good job!

My only comment is that you forgot to add the raw egg as a preventive measure against leaks, like they did on MythBusters.:2:

-njjoe
 

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Eric L. said:
Oh and I'll leave it to a vote - reply if you think this is helpful and should be made a sticky.
As always, excellent and helpful write up. Sticky please....:)

BTW, you may want to add what to do with the "used" fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
njjoe said:
My vote for a Sticky? :29:

No need for pix. The explanation is very clear. Good job!

My only comment is that you forgot to add the raw egg as a preventive measure against leaks, like they did on MythBusters.:2:

-njjoe
:D :D :D

Its now a sticky.
 

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Great for a sticky... I would like to see something added about proper disposal of these fluids. It is important the everyone remembers the proper way to dispose of this stuff.

Might be a good idea to mention it at the start prior to doing any work. "Be sure you have means to properly and responsibly dispose of used fluids prior to starting."

Nice job. I think the forrum should contribute a water proof camera so you can take pictures during the process. :4:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Gonzo said:
Great for a sticky... I would like to see something added about proper disposal of these fluids. It is important the everyone remembers the proper way to dispose of this stuff.

Might be a good idea to mention it at the start prior to doing any work. "Be sure you have means to properly and responsibly dispose of used fluids prior to starting."

Nice job. I think the forrum should contribute a water proof camera so you can take pictures during the process. :4:
Good point, I added a note about recycling fluids to the original post.
 

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This procedure doesn't look like the block is being drained/flushed.
The block drain plugs referred to in the SM - are they accessible?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ekaxel said:
This procedure doesn't look like the block is being drained/flushed.
The block drain plugs referred to in the SM - are they accessible?
Correct. The block drain plugs are *way* up there - and would make a serious mess if they were drained. I think thats overkill for a coolant service, and even the service manual recommends this *only* if the engine were going to be stored for a long time without being driven.
 

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Did it today @ 38k. I was not comfortable leaving some of the old coolant in there, so I flushed it all out. Put pressure through the top radiator hose into the block until the fluid ran clear. Added 5 qts Prestone lo-tox and water to fill and it is done.
At the same time removed my transmission scoop and straightened it out. I had been hitting a lot of parking barriers lately and didn't realize how bad it was! Took about 2 hours of blacksmithing to get it to fit again.
 

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Gave it a real workout this weekend.
2000 miles to LA & back. Temp 90-105 most of the way. Tejon Pass Labor Day afternoo- Temp 105, AC on, bumper to bumper traffic on big grades - Needle never moved from normal
I am still not sure whether I am losing a little coolant - no visible signs, level in overflow tank dropped about 3" since I drained and flushed. Maybe just getting the air out....
 

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Yeah, it's bubbles in the block comming out.

*Hopefully*

;)
 

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Eric L.

You mentioned that if someone had the alternator recall done, that they most likely drained the coolant.

I had this recall done and I am now at 30K and was pondering draining the coolant.

Why would they drain coolant to replace the alternator?

Thanks,

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #17
manydubs said:
Eric L.

You mentioned that if someone had the alternator recall done, that they most likely drained the coolant.

I had this recall done and I am now at 30K and was pondering draining the coolant.

Why would they drain coolant to replace the alternator?

Thanks,

Joe
The original procedure for removing the alternator required the radiator to be moved aside as well. To make it easier to move, it was drained.
 

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Great post! A couple of questions/comments.

Could you use dextron antifreeze that is rated for 100,000 miles (If so, it would requires a full drain of the system.).

What would be the best/easiest way to drain system completely.

Precautions for antifreeze:

Clean spills (even small ones). Animals or small children have been known to digest it because of its sweet taste. Unfortunately, it is also deadly.

Never dump down the drain, especially street drains (catch basins). These drains are often believed to go to the municipal "sewer". However, normally they actually will drain to nearby water bodies like streams, rivers, ponds, and/or ocean.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Good tip about disposing the coolant. Always take it to a local shop or auto store (like Autozone, which takes it for free) for recycling.

As for coolant, I used Prestone "Big Yellow" (the one that claims to mix with everything). It also claims 100,000 mile life. Seems like a win-win scenario to me. And no, I would not recommend using GM's Dexcool (I think thats what you meant, since Dextron is an ATF) when the Prestone claims to be 100% mixable and has similar life. Besides, who would leave coolant in their car for 100,000 miles anyways?! :D
 

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Redline's Water Wetter. I use it in my computer cooling system and think I might try it next time I need to change my Murano's coolant. :)
 
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