How to Replace a Coolant Reservoir

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What You'll Need
New coolant reservoir
Radiator hose
Drain pan

Sometimes, the coolant reservoir in your car can become damaged and you will need to replace it. It’s not the kind of job that requires a garage or dealer as you can easily do it yourself. The coolant reservoir, also known as the coolant recovery tank, holds the coolant for your vehicle so it’s important to have it intact. If it runs dry you’re likely to have serious problems with your car.

Step 1 - Remove Old Reservoir

Be aware that the placing and accessibility of the coolant reservoir will vary from make to make and model to model. Before you begin, make sure you have the proper coolant reservoir for your particular vehicle.

Make sure the engine is cold. It should not have been run for at least 1 hour. By doing this, you’ll allow the coolant to shrink back into the engine which means you’ll have to dispose of less of it. Disconnect the negative cable from the battery. This means that you won’t run the risk of getting a shock while carrying out the work. It’s always better to do this whenever you’re working on any task on a car.

Remove the bolts that keep the coolant reservoir attached to the car body but don’t disconnect the coolant hose. Work the reservoir free of the car body. Wrap a rag around the coolant hose and disconnect it from the reservoir, letting any coolant in the hose drain into the drain pan. Now, unscrew the clamp on the other end of the coolant hose and let coolant drain from the hose and the radiator into the drain pan.

When the old reservoir is drained, pour the waste into a container and screw the top on. You’ll need to dispose of this safely. Don’t pour it down drains since it can be highly toxic. There are a number of centers where you can take old coolant so ask at your local auto parts store.

Step 2 - Replace the Reservoir

Start by attaching the coolant hose to the radiator. This will probably clamp on so tighten the clamp fully to avoid possible leaks later. When it’s tight, attach the other end to the coolant reservoir. Ease the new reservoir into place and attach with the bolts until it’s firmly seated.

Now, you’ll need to fill it with new coolant to the maximum level indicated on the side of the reservoir. Since you’ve drained the coolant, this will take quite a lot of replacement fluid. Follow the instructions to mix the coolant together with the right quantity of water.

Step 3 - Test

Coolant reservoir in an engine.

Reattach the negative cable to the battery terminal, turn on your car, and let the engine run for several minutes to check for any leaks. The only possible sources of a leak would be at either end of the hose. If you find one, simply tighten the clamps. You shouldn't even need to turn off the engine. Keep running the engine until you’re sure there are no further leaks.