AUTO Q AND A: More than one way to get coolant out
Q: I have a 2004 Chevy Silverado with the 4.8 liter V8 engine and would like to drain the radiator so I can change the antifreeze. On the lower-left side of the radiator facing the engine there is a small hose fitting, but I can find no way it wo...
Q: I have a 2004 Chevy Silverado with the 4.8 liter V8 engine and would like to drain the radiator so I can change the antifreeze. On the lower-left side of the radiator facing the engine there is a small hose fitting, but I can find no way it would function as a drain. Can you help me?
A: GM recommends pulling the radiator hose off the lower radiator outlet to expedite coolant draining. In looking at my ALLDATA database, I see there may be a drain fitting on the lower corner of the radiator, which may be what you've described. If so, partly unscrew the drain cock until coolant begins to drain. Obviously, take all routine precautions -- a cool, depressurized cooling system, a drain pan to catch all the old coolant, etc.
Another technique I've used over the years when no drain plug or drain cock was fitted to the radiator is to siphon-drain the radiator -- which holds about half the total amount of coolant -- and refill with the proper mix of coolant. Doing this every two years will keep the coolant relatively fresh and avoids the mess of pulling off the lower radiator hose.
Or simply have the cooling system flushed and refilled professionally.
Q: I have a 1992 2.6 Mercedes with 130,000 miles on it. The car stalled on my wife. When I went to pick her up, the car started fine. I got close to home and it stalled again while stopped at a red light. I noticed that the motor was running as if it was out of gas before it stopped. I pushed it over to the side and tried to start it. After a few cranks it was flooded.
An hour later, it started fine and I drove it home. I left it running and after about 20 minutes the car stopped. I tried to start it, but it would not start. I did not touch the gas pedal but I smelled gas as if it was flooded. I'd like to hear your opinion.
A: This is going to sound like a shopping list. The "flooded" smell points to a potential loss of spark or too much fuel. Suspects include the fuel pump relay, coolant sensor, overvoltage protection relay, ignition control module, ignition coil and crankshaft position sensor -- just to name a few.
Q: I am a senior citizen and do not drive much anymore. My car is a 2002 Buick Century with 30,000 miles. I have the oil changed twice a year -- spring and fall -- even if I have not driven 3,000 miles.
This winter I drove it only about 390 miles since the oil change last fall. It has been in a heated garage. Should I have the oil changed now or wait until next fall, as I probably will drive it less than 1,000 miles this summer? I do have a problem in that it always starts up immediately in the garage, but when I have stopped to go shopping or for an errand and want to start it again, it starts up and then dies. I need to start it a second time to keep it running. It has done this most of the time for several months. What do you think?
A: I see no reason to change the oil until fall. Regarding the starting issue, it may be caused by a lean fuel/air mixture on a warm start because of a carbon buildup in the induction system and combustion chambers. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but a professional induction cleaning might eliminate the symptom.
(Paul Brand's column has appeared in the Star Tribune for more than two decades. The author of "How to Repair Your Car," Brand is an automotive troubleshooter, driving instructor and former racecar driver. Send questions to Paul Brand, Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488 or email@example.com . Please explain the problem in detail and include a daytime phone number. It isn't always possible to send a personal reply.)