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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Flushing the Radiator

In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Adam in South Dakota. He needs to change the antifreeze on his tractor before winter sets in, but he wonders how to know if the system needs to be flushed out?

John Deere Ag Tech Instructor Walter Tubbs at Arkansas State University-Beebe says if the fluid level is low enough that you can get a good look inside, check for white deposits on the radiator itself. If you can't see any, it may just need the coolant changed. There should be a drain valve on the bottom of the radiator. Open it up, and let the contents empty out. The liquid should be a greenish-yellow color. But if
you see brown liquid and sediment, you'll need to flush the system.

Tubbs says an auto parts store should have a commercial solution that will clean out the system. "It actually will eat the deposits out of the radiator and once you put it in there," Tubbs says. "You'll need to operate the engine until it gets to operating temperature, and then run the engine for 30-40 minutes after that time to make sure it circulates all through the system, and it'll clean the deposits out of the block and the radiator also."

Be sure it's draining in a safe location, and the old coolant is collected in a catch pan for safe disposal. Your next step is to flush out the system until it's free of debris.

"My recommendations would be fill it up with water, bring it back up to operating temperature, drain it out, and do that at least twice," says Tubbs. "And then, fill it up with--depending on where you're at in the country--at least a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze."

Also take the time to check hoses and make sure they're not getting soft or bulging. Tubbs recommends draining and flushing the radiator once-a-year, in either spring or fall.



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