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Is changing engine coolant at home a good/safe idea

I used to engine oil changes but never tried engine coolant. Instructions don’t seem that complicated. Is changing engine coolant something you can do at home? My local mechanic wants $60. At $60, is it better to just take to a shop? Is buying a legit Toyota OEM engine coolant on Amazon or Ebay doable? My car is 2006 Toyota Camry manual transmission and has 105,000 miles.

60 dollars is a bargain. Just let him do it and you don’t have to worry about disposal of a toxic fluid. The mechanic will bleed the system in less time then you would spend .

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Here’s what the shop will use.

It replaces ALL the coolant with little effort.


Sure it is something you can do at home wear safety goggles. Be aware to dispose of drained coolant properly, as it can kill kritters including humans. I talked to our local waste water treatment plant, the city offers a free dump site, but he said dumping old stuff in the toilet is fine, do not dump it in storm sewers or leave it out to poison innocent critters. The coolants as long as they are compatible will be fine, but I dumped dexcool for peak global lifetime stuff.

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$60 sounds good

However, I’m curious just what coolant your local mechanic is planning to use

I’d suggest either the genuine Toyota super long life coolant, or Zerex asian red

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That’s always my concern, especially with cheapie deals. For that reason alone I prefer to do my own.

Yes, it’s an excellent DIY project. Just be sure to use the proper coolant and bleed the system well. I prefer to get the fluid from Toyota (an extra $20 every five years is a cheap price to pay to ensure correctness), but you can get it from Amazon or Ebay IF you’re careful to buy from an authorized source. Legit companies now use Amazon and even Ebay to advertise. I strongly recommend against buying anything but legitimate Toyota coolant. The extra cost is very cheap insurance.

When bleeding the system, be sure you turn the heating system on and have the key in the ON position. That opens the valve for the coolant to flow through the heater core and allows the air there to bleed as well.

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I have done it in the past as part of another repair (water pump or radiator change) but it does get a bit messy because you drain the system and want to hose it down and are left with quite a few containers to take to the recycling center.

As mentioned above, Toyota calls for a special coolant so if you are not sure what your mechanic uses, you can either buy it for him from the dealer or just take it to the dealer. On my 2005 Camry the dealer had an $80 special that I used and got the free carwash too.

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When I went to the dealer for my coolant I discovered that you an buy it either “premixed” or “concentrated”. Premixed was about twice the cost. But you can buy the “concentrated” and pick up a gallon of distilled water from any grocery store (about $1) and mix your own. If you like, you can even buy a bottle for mixing at Dollar Tree for $1.

I think you can do it yourself. Do be careful to not spill it, but if you do flush away any puddles or your pets could die a horrible death from kidney failure.

I get a large pail made to catch antifreeze. I have a number of empty coolant bottles, but any one gallon bottles will do. I take a 3/8" gas line hose about a foot long and attach it to the nipple that is located under the drain petcock for the radiator, the other end goes into the bottle and the bottle sits in the drain pan.

I open the petcock and loosen the radiator cap. It takes quite a while for the radiator to drain, but the coolant goes into the bottle so no mess. If you want to drain the block, and you should if the coolant is cloudy or muddy, that is not done neatly. You need the large pan to catch the remaining coolant as there is no petcock, just a bolt. It drains fast so wear a face mask to cover your mouth and nose.

If the current coolant is clear, you can just replace the coolant in the radiator. That will renew your corrosion inhibitors, which is the main reason you are doing the change. But if you don’t drain the block, then plan on doing a coolant change every three years instead of five, if you are using the recommended long life coolant.

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Toyota super long life coolant won’t appear muddy like the coolant in a cast iron engine from the 1970’s. If this is the first coolant change you should drain the block. If you follow the maintenance schedule you should always drain the block when replacing the coolant. There are nipples to attach a drain hose to on the block.

Suggestion: if the coolant has never been changed before, check to see if the petcock will open easily and will drain properly before taking on the task.

My Autozone and Advanced Auto Part stores take used anti-freeze.

It can be an easy DIY project. You’ll need a place to dispose of or recycle the coolant. Check on how you’ll drain it. Check to see if you have access to the drain and enough room to get it opened/closed. My preference is to buy from a local supplier, mostly to help keep them in business; I do need local suppliers occasionally and would hate for them to go away.

Once you do all this work, you may very well decide that paying to get it done isn’t such a bad deal after all!

Ask the shop what coolant they use and how they do it. If it seems ok, then have th m do it. $60 is worth it to avoid the hassle for a job well done.

I always just pull the lower radiator hose and drain it through that.

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Certainly an option for @jbrown70. It certainly is faster.

But I don’t care for the splashing and later cleanup (because I’m not set up for it and know from the 2 radiators I’ve changed out).

The Kia dealership charges $60. No muss. No fuss. No dead pets in the neighborhood.


Does anyone on this site actually put on safety goggles to change antifreeze or do they just recommend it to other people?

Draining the coolant on a Toyota with drain hoses on the petcocks is not a very hazardous activity but dirt and rust can fall in your eyes so safety glasses are always recommended when working under a vehicle.

If for some reason a person wanted to remove the lower radiator hose with a full cooling system while lying on the ground without the ability to step out of the way as one would with the vehicle on a lift, safety glasses and a face shield should be used. Also the engine should be well below operating temperature.

I will assume the answer is for the most part a resounding no