Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How do you check the level of coolant in the radiator?

asked by on

How do you check the level of coolant in the radiator?

A: In most situations, you shouldn’t have to c...

In most situations, you shouldn’t have to check the radiator itself. You should be able to inspect the level of coolant in the reservoir/reserve tank instead. However, if the there is no coolant in the reserve tank, you’ll need to check the radiator and top it off if needed. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Park on a level surface.

  2. Wait until the engine has cooled completely. NEVER open the radiator when the engine is hot.

  3. Pull the hood release.

  4. Open the hood and secure it with the prop.

  5. Locate the radiator in the very front of the car.

  6. Touch the radiator very lightly to make sure it’s cool enough. If you can’t touch it continuously for more than 20 seconds, then it’s too hot.

  7. If it is cool, turn the radiator cap counterclockwise to release the pressure in the system.

  8. When the pressure is released, press down and turn the cap counterclockwise.

  9. Remove the cap and set it aside.

  10. Check the level of coolant inside the radiator. It should come to the bottom of the neck. If it is low, top it off.

  11. Replace the radiator cap.

  12. Fill the reservoir with coolant (stop at the maximum line).

Tip

Check your hoses, reservoir and radiator for signs of leaks.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Vehicle idling rough once warm

This might be due to a vacuum leak. Vacuum leaks are common in older vehicles because of the age of rubber lines, gaskets, etc. The vacuum leaks alter the air fuel mixture and as the engine tries to adjust it,...

Q: 2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport XLS is leaking water from the back of the engine by the firewall. What is the name of that pipe?

The pipe that connects to the hose on the back of the engine is the supply pipe to the heater core. If you need further assistance with a coolant leak, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your...

Q: Car overheats

HI. Overheating may be caused by common issues such as the fans not working, faulty thermostats, and low or leaking coolant. I suggest having a technician, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect the overheating issue. I would then suggest checking...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...