Car Repair Costs

How Much Does an Engine Coolant Change Cost?

find out how much an engine coolant change costs

The Average Coolant Change Cost Is $98-$123 at the Mechanic, versus $20 to DIY

  • Coolant Change Cost at the Mechanic: $98 – $123
    • Labor: $98 – $123
  • DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Cost to DIY: about $20
  • Urgency: Moderate

*These prices are based on national averages according to RepairPal. Related repairs or maintenance may also be needed. For a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage, download the free FIXD app.

What Is Engine Coolant?

radiator cap off
The engine’s coolant system consists of the radiator (pictured here with the cap off) and water pump.

Engine coolant is the fluid used to prevent your engine from overheating. In its simplest explanation, the coolant system consists of the radiator and water pump, which takes hot coolant from the engine, cools it down and then returns it to the engine. There are other components such as the thermostat and heater core, as well. 

Over time, the coolant degrades, which not only affects the ability to keep the engine in the proper temperature range, but it also can cause corrosion or excessive wear on the rest of the system including the hose. An engine coolant change replaces the old coolant with new coolant to keep your engine running at the proper temperature. In the image below, you can see the coolant inside the engine block as well as cylinder number one. 

car water pump removed
Engine with water pump removed.

What Is an Engine Coolant Change?

Like an oil change, replacing your engine’s coolant keeps it running smoothly. There are two ways you can go about changing the engine coolant. The easiest way is simply a drain and fill where you open the valve on the bottom of the radiator and let gravity drain as much of the coolant out as possible. Once the coolant stops flowing, close the valve and refill the radiator. 

A coolant flush is another version of an engine coolant change, but instead of relying on gravity to drain the coolant, you pump water through the entire system flushing out the engine block, heater core, and hoses. 

What Happens If You Don’t Change The Engine Coolant?

engine coolant draining on car
Engine coolant draining from under the car.

Waiting too long to change your engine coolant can lead to the coolant breaking down and not being able to provide proper engine cooling. If the coolant gets too bad, it can cause rust and corrosion inside the system, which can lead to clogs in the cooling ports and/or hoses. When this happens, a cooling flush is usually necessary to remove 

How Often Should You Change The Engine Coolant?

Most automakers recommend changing engine coolant every 30,000 miles or so, but be sure to check your owner’s manual or use the free FIXD app for accurate maintenance schedules. This is definitely a beginner-level DIY and the $20 cost to change your own coolant is likely worth it. However, it didn’t make our list of the 10 easiest DIY auto repair jobs since it might be a trickier job on vehicles that sit lower to the ground making it more of a challenge to reach the radiator drain valve. 

radiator drain valve on car
Open the radiator drain valve to drain the old engine coolant from your car.

Common Symptoms You Need to Change Your Coolant

  • Visual inspection shows discolored engine coolant

Related Maintenance Services

The following services are commonly performed when you change engine coolant:

Claim Your Custom Maintenance Schedule

Get the FIXD Sensor and free app today for a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage. Never miss important maintenance again with automated maintenance alerts! 

Jeffrey-Ross

Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a ’91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

Jeffrey N. Ross
Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a '91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

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