Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Fluid Change Help

I have a '98 Mazda Protege, need to change some of the fluids, and want to know if it’s something I can do without a lot of car knowledge and/or tools. The jobs: flushing/changing the coolant and transmission fluid.

For starters I looked up to see where I should find the drain for my radiator and even with 15-20 minutes of searching I couldn’t find the plug. Am I missing something or are radiator drain plugs notoriously hard to find?

Anyhow, should these be jobs that a lay person can do and, if so, are there any specific recommendations for directions other than “google it?”


Go to an auto parts store (or to and blow $20 on a repair manual for the car. Chapter 1 will generally have all of the general maintenance stuff, though it will be there either way. A book like this will save you more than $20 even if you decide not to ever do any work yourself.

I agree, a good shop manual will get you started. I have a Haynes manual for my Accord and the pictures leave a lot to be desired so you may want to spend the extra $ and get a Chilton’s. Like cig said, even if you never actually do any work, you will learn a lot about the inner workings of your car and what maintenance really needs to be done and how often.

Definitely you need to start with a shop manual.

All too often, people who try to save money by doing their own oil changes or trans fluid changes wind up draining the wrong component. The result is one component that is dry and another that is grossly overfilled, thus leading to damage to both. Thus, the hoped-for cost-saving turns into a financial nightmare.

If you have a shop manual to guide you, you should be able to do these tasks without problems.

A Haynes repair manual for your Protege is a very good idea. Radiator drain plugs are generally made of cheap plastic and usually break off if you are able to find it. Most people just remove the lower radiator hose to drain the radiator. Study the repair manual a little before you begin the work.