How to Change Coolant and Avoid Destroying Your Engine in Many Modern Volvos

If you’re looking to change the coolant (antifreeze) on your modern Volvo, slow your roll! There’s a couple things you need to know beforehand that could save you major frustration, and possibly even ruining your beautiful automobile.

Volvo Antifreeze & Coolant PN 31439821/31338284
Volvo Antifreeze & Coolant PN 31439821/31338284

MVS user headrc recently asked the MVS forum how to open the draincock on his 2012 Volvo XC70 so he could flush the radiator. A lively discussion broke out on coolant replacement (Isn’t that just always the case?)

MVS user Jimmy57 provides a very important warning when replacing your coolant:

The engines with thermostat on block (V8, all 3.2 short 6, 3.0T short 6, P1 5 cylinder, and all P3, and any platform with the Drive-E 4 cylinder) are all designed to use the ‘cooling system vacuum evacuator and fill system’.

What’s a ‘cooling system evacuator and fill system’? On your Volvo, these tools allow you to easily get coolant to the engine block. If you don’t take care to fill it up, you could run the risk of ruining your engine. These tools allow you to easily remove and refill your coolant. You can buy them on Amazon, like the Universal Radiator Pressure Tester and Vacuum Type Cooling System Kit, but they cost quite a penny and unfortunately, most LAPS (Local Auto Parts Stores) don’t carry them either.

So what to do? Jimmy57 has the answer, and it’s pretty simple:

Absent having that tool then you take upper hose, the one NOT going to thermostat housing, and fill it with 50/50 coolant/pure water mix to get the block filled up. The coolant often does not get into block due to the upper hose routing and can’t go through closed thermostat. 

If you’ve got a short 6 engine under the hood, here’s a few specific tips to make the process easier:

“On the short 6 engines to fill block you can slide the pinch clamp up on the short hose from rad to the trans cooler on left (driver’s) side and slip that hose off the cooler nipple. Use a section of heater hose or clear vinyl tubing that fits the nipple and put funnel into the hose. Add the premixed coolant/water and fill that. It will take about one gallon but you’ll add, water 30 sec and add again a few times.”

So if you’ve got one of these engines below, take care when replacing your coolant! Engine damage is a very real concern.

Jimmy57 also notes that, to fully drain the engine block, you also need to open the drain plug on the back of the block (there’s two for V8s) in addition to the draincock at the radiator.

However, several MVS members noted that these draincocks can break easily or are gummed up with old coolant and can’t drain, so they recommend simply disconnecting hoses instead.

Temperature vs. coolant mix protection chart - this is one of the most important charts you can follow as a Volvo owner
Temperature protection chart
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