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What Does a Coolant Flush Cost?

December 19, 2016

Question: My car repair shop recently recommended a coolant flush. Their estimate seemed high, so I called a couple of other shops to compare prices. Every shop had a different price--by a wide margin. Why would the cost vary so much for a basic fluid flush?

Answer: Although a cooling system flush - a.k.a. radiator flush - is a straightforward car maintenance service, the cost often varies for two main reasons...

How Thorough Is the Flush?

If the auto repair shop is only draining the dirty coolant* from the radiator, it takes less time than a flush. It's also less thorough and less beneficial because it leaves half of the dirty coolant inside the engine, radiator and radiator hoses. It's simply not a not very thorough procedure and typically not worth the money.At Auto Lab, we flush the cooling system using a specialized piece of equipment. This is much better for you because it pulls nearly all of the dirty coolant from the radiator, the engine block, the water pump and the radiator hoses. This service costs more, but it so much more effective. With the first method, you're merely diluting old contaminated coolant with new fluid. With the second method, you're actually replacing the old, dirty coolant with new, protective coolant.

Is the Auto Shop Using Additives to Prolong the Benefit of the Flush?

At Auto Lab, we use three additives to clean your system better and to keep it cleaner longer. The first is a cleaner that removes scale, metal contaminants and other dirt from inside the radiator and engine block. The second additive is a conditioner that corrects the pH balance of your coolant.The metals inside the radiator cause the coolant to become acidic over time, and this acid is what eats through the radiator and causes it to leak. By adding the conditioner, we prolong the life of the new coolant and your cooling system. Finally, we add a lubricant for the water pump.

Why Pricing May Vary

Obviously, flushing the coolant and using additives are going to cost more than a simple drain and fill. But the former is a much better value for your money. It will actually get all of the gunk and acidic coolant out of your engine and radiator, and it will last longer.A quick drain and fill will buy you a little time, but not much. It would be like washing your clothes in dirty water. You may get some of the dirt out, but certainly not all.These same principles apply to transmission fluid flushes and fuel injection cleanings. If your auto shop recommends either service, know the price can vary widely here, too.If you have any questions about cooling system flushes or any recommended auto repair services, know that we're here to help. Don't hesitate to call us at 847-367-4488 or stop by with your questions.* Coolant is a 50-50 mixture of water and antifreeze.

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