How To Clean A Radiator With Baking Soda And Vinegar

Our vehicle, besides being our means of transportation, also represents a part of us. It´s not only a piece of metal, it accompanies us, carries us, and becomes an essential element for all of us, nowadays. But we must never forget that with the great benefits it brings, there´s also an implicit responsibility to keep it in optimal conditions.

A good habit, for the proper functioning of our vehicle, is to routinely take it to the mechanic, perform its maintenance services, and check that everything is fine. A timely approach to the “car doctor” can avoid great costs in the future. In short, prevention is good business.

But is it necessary to take our vehicle to the mechanic for all situations? The answer is simple. It all depends on the amount of knowledge you have in basic auto mechanics.

Many times, by having some information about how your vehicle works, you can perform various actions yourself that don´t necessarily require the intervention of a professional.

And where can I acquire this knowledge? Well, in this article we will tell you about a simple and inexpensive solution to flush your radiator, with two elements that can be purchased at any grocery store. Vinegar and baking soda.

But first things first,

What Is A Radiator?

Our car’s engine generates massive amounts of energy and heat during the combustion process. The radiator is a vital element of our vehicle’s cooling system and its function is to prevent the engine from overheating, resulting in optimal engine performance.

It´s usually mounted on the front of the car and has a liquid inlet and outlet device, as well as a panel made up of copper tubes that are precisely placed in parallel in contact with the airflow and carry a coolant path.

To be sure that the engine will work properly, this cooling circuit must be filled with water with coolant or the proportion marked by the manufacturer. But sometimes our radiator can suffer obstructions that prevent it from working optimally. What to do in these cases? It´s very simple. It can be flush.

How To Flush The Radiator With Vinegar

Dirt, small particles of garbage and insects, can cause the airflow to the radiator, to be obstructed. But don’t worry, with this simple solution you can give new life to your radiator.

Materials To Use For Flushing The Radiator With Vinegar

  • A single-use tray or reservoir.
  • 1 gallon of distilled white vinegar.
  • Coolant
  • Hose
  • Water
  • Distilled water

Step 1

Identify the two hoses (inlet and outlet) of the radiator.

Step 2

Below the outlet hose, place our reservoir to receive the coolant and water that will drain from the radiator. Open the valve and allow all the liquid to drain out.

Step 3

Close the valve and add water up to half the radiator level. Then add the gallon of distilled vinegar and the rest, complete with water.

Step 4

Put the radiator cap on and start the vehicle for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing it to reach its regular temperature. After this time, turn off the engine and let it rest for 2 hours.

Step 5

Once the vinegar has been left to stand for the previous period, drain it from the system as it was done with the antifreeze, placing the tank in step 2.

Step 6

To purge the system and avoid vinegar residues, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5, but this time with distilled water. This time, when draining the distilled water, at the same time inject conventional pressurized water with the hose to remove any remaining residue.

Step 7

Finally, with the valves closed and all hoses in their original position, fill with the amount of antifreeze that, according to the manufacturer of each vehicle, is established.

How To Rinse The Radiator With Baking Soda

Vinegar is an acidic element, unlike baking soda which is the opposite, being an antacid. So, in what situations is one or the other used? Actually, both solutions can be used separately, as long as there are no remnants of the previous one.

The baking soda solution helps to loosen acidic elements left behind from old antifreeze that has adhered to the radiator. The process is very similar to rinsing with vinegar.

Materials To Use For Radiator Flushing With Baking Soda

  • A single-use tray or tank.
  • 1/2 kg of baking soda. 
  • Coolant
  • Hose
  • Water
  • Distilled water

Step 1

Identify the two hoses (inlet and outlet) of the radiator.

Step 2

Below the outlet hose, place our reservoir to receive the coolant and water that will drain from the radiator. Open the valve and allow all the liquid to drain out.

Step 3

Close the valve then add 200 grams of baking soda for each gallon of radiator capacity. For example, if the radiator has a capacity of 8 liters, it would take 400 grams of baking soda, which is recommended to first dissolve in a container before adding them to the radiator.

Step 4

Put the radiator cap on and start the vehicle for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing it to reach its regular temperature. After this time, turn off the engine and let it rest for 2 hours.

Step 5

Once the baking soda has been left to stand for the previous period, drain it from the system as it was done with the antifreeze, placing the tank in step 2.

Step 6

To purge the system and avoid baking soda residues, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5, but this time with distilled water. This time, when draining the distilled water, at the same time inject conventional pressurized water with the hose to remove any remaining residue.

Step 7

Finally, with the valves closed and all hoses in their original position, fill with the amount of antifreeze that, according to the manufacturer of each vehicle, is established.

In both cases, both for flushing the radiator with vinegar and with baking soda, the following information should not be forgotten:

  1. All the contents of the radiator, from the antifreeze to any other product used to flush it, can be harmful to nature and the environment. That is why it´s essential never to drop it on the ground and to investigate with the environmental authorities, the place where all these highly polluting liquids should be deposited.
  2. Even though distilled water, vinegar and baking soda are natural elements, when in contact with a radiator, they´re contaminated with antifreeze and shouldn´t be poured on the ground.
  3. Whenever handling automotive mechanics elements, gloves, protective glasses, overalls, face mask to avoid breathing gases and disposable, but not compostable, deposits should be used.
  4. Even though there are several articles that refer that the radiator should be left to stand for a day with vinegar or baking soda, we must not forget that these elements, even being a very noble acid or basic element, can corrode metallic elements that previously have a damage that´s impossible to visualize.
  5. At the moment of making the final flush, as much for the vinegar or the baking soda, it´s recommended that hot water is used since this can help to detach everything that could not be achieved with the previous flush.
  6. Never combine the vinegar rinse with the baking soda flush because the combination of both generates a gas called carbon dioxide which, when the radiator valve is closed, can cause the radiator to burst or become damaged.
  7. And the most important thing. Never forget that these tips only apply when there´s no serious pre-existing condition, such as a leak, visibly delicate damage or something else that requires the attention of a professional.
Liam

Hi, I'm the initiator and writer of this blog. Cars were and will be my first love, and my favorite hobby, that's why I decided to start this blog and write about my discoveries and techniques to improve my cars or repair them.