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Old Apr 17, 2011, 06:53 PM   #1
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How To: DIY Coolant Change

Recently I completed the 60K service on my '08 Lancer ES. The 60K service is basically the same as the 30K service, and I have already posted a DIY how-to for the 30K service. One project on the 60K list that is not on the 30K list is changing the coolant. I'll describe that service here.

Disclaimer: I winged this based on experience I have changing coolant on other cars. If anyone finds that I got something wrong, please comment.

Tools:
ratchet
10mm and 12mm sockets
slotted screwdriver
phillips screwdriver
pliers
ramps or jackstands
drain pan

Supplies:
1 gallon antifreeze
1 gallon distilled water
plastic gloves (not necessary, but recommended)

Time:
Had I not been multitasking with other projects at the same time, I could have done this in about an hour from putting the car on the ramps to taking it off the ramps.

Procedures:
1. Run the car briefly with the heater on all the way hot, but don't let the engine heat up much. You'll want the heater core open so that coolant from the heater core will drain. I'm not positive about this, but I'm thinking that running the car briefly with the heater on will open the heater core. I did not let the motor get hot, because I really didn't want hot coolant draining on my hands.

2. Raise the front end of the car using jackstands or ramps. I did the rest of the 60K service the weekend prior to changing the coolant, and I had the car on jackstands for that. To just do the coolant, I used ramps. Notice my driveway has a spot with an incline, so that the car is close to level with the front end on ramps.

Click the image to open in full size.

I think you would want the car level for this procedure, or perhaps with the front end LOWER than the rear, to get the best drainage.

3. Remove the frontmost undertray panel; the one just back of the front bumper cover. This will expose the bottom of the radiator and the lower radiator hose. This was actually the worst part of the whole process. Here's the panel:

Click the image to open in full size.


This plastic panel is held onto the car with TWENTY-THREE fasteners! Really Mitsubishi??? And as if that weren't bad enough, only seven of them are metal bolts. The other sixteen are plastic fasteners, which drive me crazy:

Click the image to open in full size.

The metal bolts are 10mm, and I used the slotted screwdriver to pry out the plastic fasteners. Pry out the center portion first, then remove the fastener. You'll see what I mean. I'm actually quite amazed that I only broke two of them.

4. Time to drain the coolant. There is no drain plug; you'll drain the coolant by disconnecting the lower radiator hose from the radiator. Remove the cap from the top of the radiator, this will allow the coolant to drain more freely. Put on your gloves if you have them, and grab your drain pan and a pair of pliers. Put the drain pan in place, use the pliers to loosen the hose clamp from the lower radiator hose, then pull the hose off the radiator.

Click the image to open in full size.

5. Flusing. With the hose still disconnected, run some water (water from a garden hose will do) into the top of the radiator. Reconnect the lower radiator hose to the radiator, fill with water (from the hose will do), and replace the radiator cap. Turn on the motor, run it to operating temperature, and run the heat full blast. This will definitely circulate fluid through your heater core. Don't turn off the car until you are sure that the thermostat has opened. If you grab the radiator hoses and they are hot, then fluid has circulated. Turn off the car, and drain the fluid again. I did not bother waiting for the car to cool. Either let the car cool, or be reasonably cautious when removing the lower hose to drain.

6. Clean the expansion tank. Mitsubishi got back into my good graces here. There is only one screw holding the expansion tank in the car (indicated by my finger in the picture below).

Click the image to open in full size.

Remove the screw, pull out the tank, and rinse it out. Remove the hose that goes from the expansion tank to the top of the radiator, and give it a flush as well. Mine had some crud in it. Reinstall the tank and reconnect the hoses.

7. Start refilling. Make sure all the hoses are reconnected. Add coolant and distilled water in the proper mixture (50:50 works for me in Maryland). Fill through the cap at the top of the radiator until it appears full. It probably isn't full, as there is most likely still air in the system somewhere. Leave the radiator cap off, and turn on the motor again. Let the car heat up, and turn on the heater. You should observe the level of coolant going down; add coolant as you can. When it looks like the system really is full, be patient and wait a little longer. Replace the cap, turn off the motor, and add some coolant to the expansion tank to the proper level.

8. Rinse off the relevant parts of the engine compartment with water.

9. Replace the undertray. I didn't want to lie down in water. It was a nice day, so I did some yard work while the driveway dried off. If you're in a hurry, move the car to a dry location and get it back off the ground. Reinstall the undertray and all bloody 23 fasteners. This put Mitsubish back on my sh**list.

10. The next time I went somehere I took my jugs of new coolant and distilled water with me. After I got where I was going and allowed the motor to cool off, I topped off the system again. It was a bit low. Continue to check the coolant level after the next few trips.

Two other vehicles I've done this on (Porsche 944 and Toyota Pickup) had drain plugs on the radiator and on the engine block. To fully drain the coolant, you have to drain from both places. I could not find any information on whether or not the Lancer motor has a drain on the block. If there is, then I missed it. If anyone can confirm this one way or aother, please let me know.

Enjoy! Time for a

Mark
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Old Apr 28, 2011, 11:17 AM   #2
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Great write up! This deserves "sticky" status!
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 09:37 AM   #3
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Thank you
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Old Nov 13, 2013, 06:02 PM   #4
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The Lancer ES radiator really has no drain plug?
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Old Nov 14, 2013, 06:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by palawan View Post
The Lancer ES radiator really has no drain plug?
If it does have a drain plug, I haven't seen it.
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Old Nov 18, 2013, 08:51 PM   #6
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Okay, thanks for that.
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Old Dec 9, 2013, 11:33 AM   #7
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My 2009 ES does have a drain plug on the radiator. It's on the right-hand side behind the fog light. Two screws instead of 23.
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Old Jan 25, 2014, 12:21 PM   #8
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great infor, I will try to do it tmr,
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 04:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_dsm View Post
My 2009 ES does have a drain plug on the radiator. It's on the right-hand side behind the fog light. Two screws instead of 23.
what do you mean? you mean just remove the fog light and you can drain that way?
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Old Feb 11, 2014, 04:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepsi_merch View Post
what do you mean? you mean just remove the fog light and you can drain that way?


Pretty much, yeah. If you take the fog light out, and your hands aren't TOO big, you can get in there to remove the drain plug. I did it last spring, so I'm a bit foggy, but if I remember right, I needed a hex wrench. I don't think it was a straight shot for the coolant to flow from the radiator to the bucket, but I don't remember it making too much of a mess.
I apologize that this is from old, faulty memory so I'm not giving great detail. If I do it again this coming spring, I'll take pictures.
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Old Jun 10, 2014, 07:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_dsm View Post
Pretty much, yeah. If you take the fog light out, and your hands aren't TOO big, you can get in there to remove the drain plug. I did it last spring, so I'm a bit foggy, but if I remember right, I needed a hex wrench. I don't think it was a straight shot for the coolant to flow from the radiator to the bucket, but I don't remember it making too much of a mess.
I apologize that this is from old, faulty memory so I'm not giving great detail. If I do it again this coming spring, I'll take pictures.
eric_dsm has it.

On my '08 ES I don't have any fog lights, so I removed the black piece of trim on the passenger side where a fog light might go. Remove one screw and pull out the trim; very simple.

Once you've removed the trim/fog light, if you look inside you'll see this:

Click the image to open in full size.

The right side of the image is toward the front/center of the car. The yellow arrow points toward what must be a drain plug for the radiator. It is easy enough to reach in and get your hands on the plug. I was doing an oil change and thought I'd take a pic for this thread, but I wasn't interested in draining the radiator at the time and did not actually pull the plug.

The red arrow indicates an opening where I guess coolant can flow out. As eric_dsm noted, some mess will occur. If I were to do this job again, I would likely do the following:

1. Raise the vehicle. I have a two-post lift now, but you could use ramps or jack stands. Heck, if you have a shallow pan, you might not even need to lift the car.

2. Remove fog light/trim from right (passenger) side of front bumper.

3. Place pan under hole where coolant (hopefully) will drain from car.

4. Loosen or remove the cap on the top of the radiator. It should be obvious that you do not do this with the motor hot. See my original post.

5. Remove the drain plug. Again, think about how cold or hot your coolant is, and be cautious as necessary. There shouldn't be any need for a wrench; just twist by hand. Hope that some substantial fraction of the coolant goes into your drain pan.

6. Flush if you like. Replace any hoses as necessary. Clean the expansion tank. Do anything else you want to do at this time.

7. Replace the drain plug and fill the radiator.

8. I'm guessing there will be plenty of coolant lingering inside the bumper cover, on the undertray, etc. Get a hose and wash it out.

Rinsing off any spilled coolant is probably going to be much less of a hassle than removing all those fasteners and the undertray (as described in step 3 of my original post).

I'm glad this got cleared up. Thanks for the input. I'm about 6K miles away from my 120K service, so I may be doing this job before the end of the year.
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Old Jun 10, 2014, 07:11 PM
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