Wait until the engine is cold before starting this procedure. Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin, or with the painted surfaces of the car. Rinse off spills immediately with plenty of water. Never leave antifreeze lying around in an open container, or in a puddle in the driveway or on the garage floor. Children and pets are attracted by its sweet smell, but antifreeze can be fatal if ingested.
Cooling system draining
With the engine completely cold, remove the expansion tank filler cap. Turn the cap anti-clockwise, wait until any pressure remaining in the system is released, then unscrew it and lift it off.
Position a suitable container beneath the radiator drain plug, at the bottom left-hand corner of the radiator (left as seen from the driver’s seat)
The drain plug is at the bottom right-hand corner of the radiator
Slacken the drain plug using a wide-bladed screwdriver, and allow the coolant to drain into the container
Unscrew the radiator drain plug . . .
. . . and allow the coolant to drain
When the flow of coolant stops, tighten the radiator drain plug.
If the coolant has been drained for a reason other than renewal, then provided it is clean and less than four years old, it can be re-used, though this is not recommended.
Cooling system flushing
If coolant renewal has been neglected, or if the antifreeze mixture has become diluted, then in time, the cooling system may gradually lose efficiency, as the coolant passages become restricted due to rust, scale deposits, and other sediment. The cooling system efficiency can be restored by flushing the system clean.
The radiator should be flushed independently of the engine, to avoid unnecessary contamination.
Disconnect the top and bottom hoses and any other relevant hoses from the radiator.
Insert a garden hose into the radiator top inlet. Direct a flow of clean water through the radiator, and continue flushing until clean water emerges from the radiator bottom outlet.
If after a reasonable period, the water still does not run clear, the radiator can be flushed with a good proprietary cleaning agent. It is important that their manufacturer’s instructions are followed carefully. If the contamination is particularly bad, insert the hose in the radiator bottom outlet, and reverse-flush the radiator.
Remove the thermostat, then, if the radiator top hose has been disconnected from the engine, temporarily reconnect the hose.
With the top and bottom hoses disconnected from the radiator, insert a garden hose into the radiator top hose. Direct a clean flow of water through the engine, and continue flushing until clean water emerges from the radiator bottom hose.
On completion of flushing, refit the thermostat and reconnect the hoses.
The antifreeze should always be renewed at the specified intervals. This is necessary not only to maintain the antifreeze properties, but also to prevent corrosion which would otherwise occur as the corrosion inhibitors become progressively less effective.
Always use an ethylene-glycol based antifreeze which is suitable for use in mixed-metal cooling systems. The antifreeze recommended by Ford at the time of writing is their purple-coloured Super Plus antifreeze, which, if it is not mixed with any other anti-freeze, can be left in the system for 10 years. Owners may wish to change their antifreeze more frequently, especially if the type and quality in the system is unknown.
Before adding antifreeze, the cooling system should be completely drained, preferably flushed, and all hoses checked for condition and security.
After filling with antifreeze, a label should be attached to the expansion tank, stating the type and concentration of antifreeze used, and the date installed. Any subsequent topping-up should be made with the same type and concentration of antifreeze.
Do not use engine antifreeze in the windscreen/tailgate washer system, as it will cause damage to the paintwork. A screen-wash additive should be added to the washer system in the quantities stated on the bottle.
Cooling system filling
Before attempting to fill the cooling system, make sure that all hoses and clips are in good condition, and that the clips are tight. Note that an antifreeze mixture must be used all year round, to prevent corrosion of the engine components.
Locate and unscrew the radiator bleed plug, which looks similar to the drain plug, and is situated at the top left-hand or right-hand corner of the radiator (depending on model).
Remove the expansion tank filler cap. If a funnel is available for filling the cooling system, use it to reduce the risk of spillage onto the paintwork under the bonnet.
Slowly fill the system until coolant emerges from the radiator bleed hole, or until the level settles at the MAX mark on the side of the expansion tank.
| 1.4 litre engine
| 1.6 litre engine
Refit and tighten the radiator bleed plug.
If necessary, top-up the coolant level to the MAX mark, and refit the expansion tank cap.
Start the engine, run it at approximately 3000 rpm for two minutes, then switch off.
Recheck the coolant level in the expansion tank, and top-up if necessary. Although the system should still be some way off full operating temperature at this point, take precautions against scalding if the expansion tank cap has to be removed.
With the expansion tank cap refitted, start the engine once more, and run it at 3000 rpm for another two minutes. Switch the engine off on completion, and allow it to cool. When the engine has cooled (preferably overnight), recheck the level once more, and top-up if necessary.
If, after draining and refilling the system, symptoms of overheating are found which did not occur previously, then the fault is almost certainly due to trapped air at some point in the system, causing an airlock and restricting the flow of coolant; usually, the air is trapped because the system was refilled too quickly.
If an airlock is suspected, first try gently squeezing all visible coolant hoses. A coolant hose which is full of air feels quite different to one full of coolant, when squeezed. After refilling the system, most airlocks will clear once the system has cooled, and been topped-up.
While the engine is running at operating temperature, switch on the heater and heater fan, and check for heat output. Provided there is sufficient coolant in the system, any lack of heat output could be due to an airlock in the system.
Airlocks can have more serious effects than simply reducing heater output – a severe airlock could reduce coolant flow around the engine. Check that the radiator top hose is hot when the engine is at operating temperature – a top hose which stays cold could be the result of an airlock (or a non-opening thermostat).
If the problem persists, stop the engine and allow it to cool down completely, before unscrewing the expansion tank filler cap or loosening the hose clips and squeezing the hoses to bleed out the trapped air. In the worst case, the system will have to be at least partially drained (this time, the coolant can be saved for re-use) and flushed to clear the problem.
Pressure (expansion tank) cap check
Clean the pressure cap, and inspect the seal inside the cap for damage or deterioration
. If there is any sign of damage or deterioration to the seal, fit a new pressure cap.
Check the condition of the seal