Ford Escort cooling system flush & refill

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Never remove the radiator cap under any conditions while the engine is operating. Failure to follow these instructions could result in personal injury and / or damage to the cooling system or engine. To avoid having scalding hot coolant steam blow out of the radiator, use extreme care when removing the cap from a hot radiator. Wait until the engine has cooled, then wrap a thick cloth around the radiator cap and turn it slowly to the first stop. Step back while pressure is released from the cooling system. When you are certain that all pressure has been released, press down on the cap (with a cloth), turn and remove.

Coolant Drain Procedure

  1. With the engine off and sufficiently cool, remove the radiator cap, open the drain.
  2. Allow the coolant to drain.
  3. A 9.5mm (3/8-inch) hose may be attached to the drain discharge orifice to direct coolant into a suitable container.
  4. On 1.9L SOHC (2nd gen, 1st and 3rd gen unconfirmed) some coolant may remain in the cylinder block and can be drained by removing the headless pipe plug in the center of the block at the front of the vehicle using a 3/16-inch Allen wrench. Prior to installation of the pipe plug, apply a pipe sealant or teflon tape.
  5. On 1.8L DOHC engines, the remaining coolant also may be drained by removing the bolt and copper washer located at the front of the cylinder block near the transaxle mounting surface. There are two drilled and tapped bosses at this location. The coolant drain bolt is located in the upper boss the lower boss connects to the engine oil system and should NOT be used for this procedure.

Coolant system flush procedure

Radiator installed

  1. Drain the cooling system.
  2. Install the block drain plug, if removed, and close the radiator drain.
  3. Slowly add water until the radiator is full and wait several minutes. As the water level in the radiator drops, continue to slowly add water until the radiator remains full.
  4. Idle the engine for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Turn the engine off and drain the water by opening the drain.
  6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 as many times as necessary until nearly clear water is drained from the radiator.
  7. Allow the remaining water to drain, then close the drain.
  8. Disconnect the overflow hose from the radiator filler neck nipple.
  9. Remove the coolant recovery reservoir from the fender apron and empty the fluid. Flush the reservoir and over flow hose and clamp to the radiator filler neck.
  10. Fill the cooling system as outlined in this section.
  11. Start the engine and check for coolant leaks.
  12. Cooling System Back Flush

Radiator removed

  1. Back flush the radiator. Be sure the radiator cap is in position. Turn the radiator upside down. Position a high pressure water hose in the bottom hose location and back-flush. CAUTION: The Radiator’s internal pressure must not exceed 138kPa (20PSI).
  2. Remove the thermostat housing and the thermostat. The ignition coil pack on the 1.9L engine and the distributor on the 1.8L engines are located near this area. Wrap them with a clean shop rag to prevent any water from entering the components.
  3. Back-flush the engine. Position a high-pressure hose into the engine though the thermostat location and back-flush the engine.
  4. Install the thermostat and housing.
  5. Fill the cooling system.
  6. Start the engine and check for coolant leaks.

Heater core back flush

Back-flushing the heater core should be a separate operation to achieve the required reverse coolant flow.

  1. Disconnect the heater core outlet hose that connects to the water pump. Install a clamp on a garden hose female end fitting and connect it to the heater core outlet fitting.
  2. Disconnect the heater core inlet hose and position the hose to allow suitable draining.
  3. Back-flush the heater core until the water runs clear out of the heater core inlet hose.
  4. Remove the garden hose and reconnect all of the hoses.
  5. Refill the cooling system as outlined in this section.
  6. Start the engine and check for coolant leaks.

Coolant Refill Procedure

With the entire cooling system drained, the following procedure should be used to ensure a complete fill.

  1. Install the block drain plug, if removed, and close the drain. With the engine OFF, add 50/50 Glycol water premix solution. Add the coolant until the radiator remains full (approximately 10-15 minutes are required to fill the system). CAUTION: Less than 30 percent, approximately 2 liters (2.1 quarts) of coolant concentrate (-15C [4F] freezing point may cause engine corrosion and overheating.
  2. Install the Radiator cap to the first notch to keep spillage to a minimum.
  3. Start and idle the engine approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the cap and top off the radiator with water.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4.
  6. Securely install the cap on the radiator.
  7. Fill the coolant recovery reservoir to the FILL HOT mark with the specified coolant 50/50 mixture. This will ensure a proper mixture and level in the coolant recovery bottle. Check for leaks at the drain and the block plug.

Also see

  • Ford Escort & ZX2 section for the entire index of all Ford Escort and ZX2 related articles.