Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin or painted surfaces of the vehicle. Flush contaminated areas immediately with plenty of water. Don’t store new coolant, or leave old coolant lying around, where it’s accessible to children or pets – they’re attracted by its sweet smell. Ingestion of even a small amount of coolant can be fatal. Wipe up garage-floor and drip-pan spills immediately. Keep antifreeze containers covered, and repair cooling system leaks as soon as they’re noticed.
Never remove the expansion tank filler cap when the engine is running, or has just been switched off, as the cooling system will be hot, and the consequent escaping steam and scalding coolant could cause serious injury.
Wait until the engine is cold before starting these procedures.
To drain the system, first remove the expansion tank filler cap.
Firmly apply the handbrake, then jack up the front of the vehicle and support it securely on axle stands.
Place a suitable container beneath the left-hand side of the radiator.
Open the radiator drain tap and allow the coolant to drain into the container.
Once the coolant has stopped draining from the radiator, close the drain tap.
With time, the cooling system may gradually lose its efficiency, as the radiator core becomes choked with rust, scale deposits from the water, and other sediment. To minimise this, as well as using only good-quality antifreeze and clean soft water, the system should be flushed as follows whenever any part of it is disturbed, and/or when the coolant is renewed.
With the coolant drained and the drain tap closed, refill the system with fresh water. Refit the expansion tank filler cap, start the engine and warm it up to normal operating temperature, then stop it and (after allowing it to cool down completely) drain the system again. Repeat as necessary until only clean water can be seen to emerge, then refill finally with the specified coolant mixture.
If only clean, soft water and good-quality antifreeze (even if not to Ford’s specification) has been used, and the coolant has been renewed at the suggested intervals, the above procedure will be sufficient to keep the system clean for a considerable length of time. If, however, the system has been neglected, a more thorough operation will be required, as follows.
First drain the coolant, then disconnect the radiator top and bottom hoses. Insert a garden hose into the radiator top hose connection, and allow water to circulate through the radiator until it runs clean from the bottom outlet.
To flush the engine, insert the garden hose into the radiator bottom hose, wrap a piece of rag around the garden hose to seal the connection, and allow water to circulate until it runs clear.
Try the effect of repeating this procedure in the top hose, although this may not be effective, since the thermostat will probably close and prevent the flow of water.
In severe cases of contamination, reverse-flushing of the radiator may be necessary. This may be achieved by inserting the garden hose into the bottom outlet, wrapping a piece of rag around the hose to seal the connection, then flushing the radiator until clear water emerges from the top hose outlet.
The use of chemical cleaners is not recommended, and should be necessary only as a last resort; the scouring action of some chemical cleaners may lead to other cooling system problems. Normally, regular renewal of the coolant will prevent excessive contamination of the system.
Antifreeze type and mixture
Do not use engine antifreeze in the windscreen/tailgate washer system, as it will damage the vehicle’s paintwork. A screenwash additive should be added to the washer system in its maker’s recommended quantities.
If the vehicle’s history (and therefore the quality of the antifreeze in it) is unknown, owners are advised to drain and thoroughly reverse-flush the system, before refilling with fresh coolant mixture.
If the antifreeze used is to Ford’s specification, the levels of protection it affords are indicated in the coolant packaging.
To give the recommended standard mixture ratio for antifreeze, 50% (by volume) of antifreeze must be mixed with 50% of clean, soft water; if you are using any other type of antifreeze, follow its manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the correct ratio.
You are unlikely to fully drain the system at any one time (unless the engine is being completely stripped), and the capacities quoted in the Specifications are therefore slightly academic for routine coolant renewal. As a guide, only two-thirds of the system’s total capacity is likely to be needed for coolant renewal.
As the drained system will be partially filled with flushing water, in order to establish the recommended mixture ratio, measure out 50% of the system capacity in antifreeze and pour it into the hose/expansion tank as described above, then top-up with water. Any topping-up while refilling the system should be done with a suitable mixture.
Before adding antifreeze, the cooling system should be drained, preferably flushed, and all hoses checked for condition and security; fresh antifreeze will rapidly find any weaknesses in the system.
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.
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.
As part of the system will already have water in it, initially pour in 50% of the system capacity in antifreeze, then top-up with water.
||Motorcraft SuperPlus antifreeze to Ford specification WSS-M97B44-D
Slowly fill the system until the coolant level reaches the neck of the expansion tank.
With the filler cap not fitted, start the engine and run it at 2500 rpm for 1 minute – this will prime the heater circuit.
Switch off the engine, then fill the expansion tank to 15 mm over the MAX mark.
Refit the filler cap, then start the engine and run it at 2500 rpm for 11 minutes, or until the engine reaches normal operating temperature.
Maintain the engine speed at 2500 rpm for a further 3 minutes, then increase the engine speed to 4000 rpm for 5 seconds.
Decrease the engine speed to 2500 rpm for 3 minutes and switch off the engine.
Check the cooling system for leaks, then allow the engine to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the filler cap and top-up the coolant level to the MAX mark on the expansion tank.
General cooling system checks
The engine should be cold for the cooling system checks, so perform the following procedure before driving the vehicle, or after it has been shut off for at least three hours.
Remove the expansion tank filler cap, and clean it thoroughly inside and out with a rag. Also clean the filler neck on the expansion tank. The presence of rust or corrosion in the filler neck indicates that the coolant should be changed. The coolant inside the expansion tank should be relatively clean and transparent. If it is rust-coloured, drain and flush the system, and refill with a fresh coolant mixture.
Carefully check the radiator hoses and heater hoses along their entire length; renew any hose which is cracked, swollen or deteriorated.
Inspect all other cooling system components (joint faces, etc) for leaks. A leak in the cooling system will usually show up as white- or antifreeze-coloured deposits on the area adjoining the leak. Where any problems of this nature are found on system components, renew the component or gasket.
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, 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. If all else fails, have the system evacuated and vacuum-filled by a suitably-equipped garage.
Expansion tank cap check
Wait until the engine is completely cold – perform this check before the engine is started for the first time in the day.
Place a wad of cloth over the expansion tank cap, then unscrew it slowly and remove it.
Examine the condition of the rubber seal on the underside of the cap. If the rubber appears to have hardened, or cracks are visible in the seal edges, a new cap should be fitted.
If the car is several years old, or has covered a large mileage, consider renewing the cap regardless of its apparent condition – they are not expensive. If the pressure relief valve built into the cap fails, excess pressure in the system will lead to puzzling failures of hoses and other cooling system components.