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2002 Camry
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I completed this procedure at 117,000 km (72,000 miles) on my 2002 Camry 2.4L 4 cylinder LE. Toyota recommends that the coolant be replaced every 32,000km (20,000 miles) on the 2002 Camry.

Why Change Your Coolant?
As the coolant ages in your vehicle, it will still provides excellent heat transfer and freeze/boil protection, but the corrosion inhibitors slowly get used up. So, it is an important to replace your coolant periodically in order to prevent corrosion inside your engine, water pump, radiator, etc. Changing the engine coolant is a very commonly overlooked maintenance item.

Toyota “Red” vs. “Pink” Coolant:
My 2002 Camry came from the factory with “red” Toyota Long Life Coolant. On their new vehicles, Toyota has standardized on “pink” Super Long Life Coolant. The “pink” Super Long Life coolant has an extended replacement interval. On my 2008 Corolla maintenance schedule, for example, the first replacement is at 128,000km (80,000 miles) and every 64,000 km (40,000 miles) afterward.

Toyota “red” Long Life and Toyota “pink” Super Long Life are both ethylene gylcol Hybrid Organic Additive Technology (HOAT) type of coolants. The chemistry in the Toyota coolants is silicate free which the Asian car manufacturer’s prefer as they are easier on the water pump seals, and are better for heat transfer than the traditional North American silicate type coolants. To provide corrosion protection, the HOAT coolants use inorganic phosphate inhibitors.

In my research, I found a lot of mis-information and opinions on the topic of compatibility of aftermarket coolants with the OEM Toyota engine coolants. It appears that the Zerex Asian coolant is the only one that is truly compatible with the OEM Toyota coolant, but it was not available locally. In my searching, I found the following article. It is well written and appears to be credible.

http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/841/coolant-fundamentals

In the end, I decided to use the genuine Toyota red Long Life coolant on my 2002 Camry. According to the following Toyota technical service bulletin PG010-02, the Toyota pink Super Long Life coolant is backwardly compatible on my 2002 Camry.

http://www.toyotapart.com/ENGINE_COOLANT_COLOR_CHANGE_T-PG010-02.pdf

However, the “pink” coolant only comes in a pre-diluted 50/50 format, which presents a problem for the DIYer, like myself, who does not have access to flush machine to pump the old fluid out with new fluid. My local lube shop charges $99 + 13% tax for a complete coolant flush. They have the right equipment to do it, but they are only set up use one “universal” coolant. I could not determine if the chemistry of their “universal” coolant was compatible with my engine, so I decided against that option.

My local Toyota dealership charges $79 + 13% tax for a coolant change, but I confirmed that they only do a “drain and fill” of just the radiator. According to my Haynes guide, the coolant capacity on my 2002 Camry is 6.6 quarts (6.3 liters). However, I discovered that draining the radiator gets about 3.9 quarts (3.7 liters) out – leaving 2.4 quarts (2.3 liters) behind. Not bad, but this coolant exchange was a little overdue, so I was really hoping to get rid of all of the old coolant if possible.

In the end, I decided to dilute the old coolant with distilled water two times, running the engine in between until the thermostat opened and the remaining coolant mixed really well with the distilled water. Then, after two dilutions, I topped off the radiator with the concentrated red Long Life coolant to achieve approximately a 50/50 mix.

Number of Dilutions vs. % Old Coolant Remaining
According to my calculations, the theoretical amount of coolant remaining after each dilution is as follows

1st dilution = 41% old coolant remains
2nd dilution = 17% of old coolant remains
3rd dilution = 7% of old coolant remains

This assumes perfect mixing, and that only 3.7 liters is drained each time. If you remove the thermostat as I did, the % drops even lower. If anyone is interested in the math to prove this, here it is:

1st Dilution
6.3 (total capacity) - 3.7 (drained out) = 2.6 (old coolant remaining)
2.6 (old coolant remaining) / 6.3 (total fill capacity) = 41.3% (old coolant)

2nd Dilution
2.6 (old coolant remaining) x 41.3% (old coolant coolant) = 1.07 liters (old coolant remaining)
1.07 (old coolant remaining) / 6.3 (total capacity) = 17% (old coolant)

3rd Dilution
2.6 (old coolant remaining) x 17% (old coolant coolant) = 0.44 liters (old coolant remaining)
0.44 (old coolant remaining) / 6.3 (total capacity) = 7% (old coolant)


Disclaimer
Use this guide at your own risk! I assume no responsibility for any damage to your vehicle or personal injury as a result of following this guide. Any comments to improve the procedure will be gratefully received and incorporated into this procedure where possible.

Time Required
It took me about 3.5 hours from start to finish, including time to take photos and make notes. No special tools are required. If I had to do this again, I think I could reasonably pare this down to 2 hours.


Tools & Supplies:
a) 3.7 liters Toyota Long Life “red” concentrated coolant $27.57
b) Three(3) 4 liter bottles of distilled water $2.97
c) Empty container with markings every ½ liter (optional).
d) Short length of 5/16” ID plastic hose (optional).

Total = $30.54 (taxes included)



Let's get started...



1. Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. Slide short piece of 5/16” I.D. hose over the nipple on the bottom of the drain plug. This step is optional.


2. Remove the radiator cap. CAUTION… If the engine is hot, wear a pair of gloves and use a rag to cover the cap. Partially open the rad cap first to relieve any pressure inside the radiator, before removing. Wipe clean the radiator filler neck and cap of any dried up coolant sediment.




3. Center the drain pan under the radiator drain. Open the drain plug a few turns and let the coolant drain out. To speed up the process, you can remove the drain plug entirely when the flow of coolant slows down. After about 5 minutes, when the coolant stops flowing out, replace and fully close the drain plug. Approximately 3.7 liters (4 quarts) of coolant drained out during this step.

Engine coolant contains dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to human health and the environment. Do NOT dump your old coolant on the ground, or pour it into the sewer or into the toilet. Collect it in containers, clearly label it and take it to your local HHW (Household Hazardous Waste) depot for proper disposal. In our city, they will take up to 25 liters of hazardous waste free at the HHW depot. Alternatively, you can place it in the original or clearly marked containers with your recycling goods at the curb. Some local garages and auto parts supply stores may also take your old engine coolant. Doing your own automotive maintenance is no excuse for being environmentally irresponsible. Please dispose of your old coolant properly.




4. Reposition the catch pan under the thermostat and remove the two nuts (red arrows) securing the radiator securing the thermostat cover. The bottom one (not visible in this photo) is a bit tricky to access. I used a 10mm socket with a universal joint to remove it.



5. Pull the thermostat cover from the engine block, and remove the thermostat. I used a pair of channel lock pliers to gently pull the thermostat from the engine. I got an additional 1/2 liter of coolant draining out of the block when I pulled the thermostat.

For interest only, the red arrow in this photo points to the engine block coolant drain plug on the engine block. I read that opening up this drain will net an additional few ounces of coolant. I did not bother with it during this procedure.




6. Test the thermostat by placing it a pot of water on the stove along with a thermometer. I used a digital meat thermometer to measure water temperature. Stir the water and slowly raise the temperature of the water to see when the thermostat opens. My OEM thermostat was stamped 82°C (180°F). During my test, I observed the following:

87°C (188 °F) = thermostat opened approximately 1 mm
90°C (195 °F) = thermostat opened approximately 3 mm
92°C (198 °F) = thermostat opened approximately 6 mm

In the second photo, you can see the 6mm gap between the thermostat seal and the body (red arrow). This photo was taken with the thermostat fully opened. My thermostat was opening at about 5-10°C higher temperature than stamped on the body. I am not sure what tolerance is acceptable for a thermostat. I figured that mine was OK, so I did not replace it.



7. Re-install the thermostat. Note that on the OEM Toyota thermostats, there is a “jiggle valve” on the thermostat (red arrow). It is a small, loose pin that is swaged on both sides thermostat housing to keep it from falling out of the hole.

The purpose of the jiggle valve is to allow any trapped air to escape when the cooling system is opened and drained. Trapped air is a serious problem creating hot spots in the cooling system. Without the jiggle valve, it can be hard to eliminate air pockets in the cooling system. Since air seeks the uppermost position in water, it is recommended to install the “jiggle valve” in the uppermost, 12 o’clock position. Tighten the two nuts securing the thermostat cover. My Haynes manual lists 78 in-lbs for torqueing these nuts. I just snugged them up with my ratchet, being careful not to tighten too them too much, because the thermostat cover is plastic.




8. Remove the radiator overflow hose from the overflow tank. Slide the radiator tank upward to remove it from the vehicle. Pour out the old coolant. I had a bit of sediment in my tank, so I washed it out with hot water.

Fill the coolant reservoir to the “FULL” mark with a mixture of 50% coolant and 50% distilled water. To do this, I used a measuring cup and tap water to determine that the reservoir holds 0.6 liters (20 ounces) of fluid to the “FULL” mark. I then dumped the tap water and added 0.3 liters (10 ounces) of distilled water and then 0.3 liters (10 ounces) of new coolant.

Reinstall the radiator overflow tank. Leave the overflow hose off for now.

NOTE: I am not sure if engine coolant will eat away at the paint on your vehicle. If you spill any coolant on your vehicle paint, wipe it up and wash the area down with some water just to be safe.



9. Add distilled water to the radiator. Fill the radiator to about 1” below to point where it will begin to overflow.



10. I have read that elevating the front of the vehicle helps to release trapped air after opening the coolant system, so I jacked up the front of the car and placed it on safety stands. I am not 100% sure if this step is necessary.




11. Start the engine. Place the heater temperature control on the maximum setting. Let the engine idle until the thermostat opens and the coolant begins to flow through the radiator. Squeeze the upper radiator hose a few times to “burp” any air out of the hose.

On my other Toyotas, the radiator fill neck is positioned directly above the top tank on the radiator, so it is easy to see the coolant begin to flow when the thermostat opens. On the 2002 Camry, there is an offset in the filler neck of the radiator (see above photo), so it is not easy to tell when the coolant is flowing. I waited until the surface of the coolant when viewed down the filler neck began “jiggle” and the heater was blowing hot air. I estimate that I let the engine idle for about 25 minutes. Note that the radiator fans never cycled during this time. The upper radiator hose felt hot to the touch and the lower radiator hose felt just slightly warm.



12. Stop the engine. Drain the radiator and re-fill with distilled water. Run the engine again until the thermostat opens. Squeeze the upper rad hose a few times. Stop the engine. Drain the radiator. Close the drain plug. At this point, you will have three containers of progressively diluted coolant. After the second dilution, without the removal of the thermostat, theoretically there should only be 17% of the old coolant remaining. With the thermostat removal as shown above, that drops to about 11%. You can continue to dilute as often as you wish, but the effectiveness of the dilution diminishes with each draining. I chose to stop at two dilutions.



13. I used up about 0.3 liters of coolant when filling the overflow reservoir. This left me with 3.3 liters. To get approximately a 50/50 mix, I added 3 liters of coolant to the radiator, and filled the remainder of the radiator with distilled water. That leaves about a cup of coolant for topping up in the next few days. Close the radiator cap and reinstall the overflow hose.



14. After a few days of driving and allowing the engine to cool overnight, recheck the radiator overflow tank. The level on mine went down by ½. Top up the reservoir tank with 50/50 mix until the level is at the “FULL” mark.
 

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Very good post sir. I used the ZerxAsian Car coolant when I changed coolant and have had no problems with it. I think the Zerx product is very close to the Toyota coolant. In the Midwest,NAPA carries Zerex Asian Car coolant. About $12.00 a gallon for 50/50 mixture. I draind both sides of the block on my V6. I would have replaced the thermostat with a Toyota part. If you are going that far into the system,why not just replace it along with a new gasket. Thank you again. Regards
 

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So if it OK if the Zerex coolant mixes with the leftover red coolant (since you are not getting out every bit of the red).

Is it OK to remove the thermostat run during round 1 & 2? i.e when flushing with distilled water. (that way we don't have to wait for the t-stat to open).

[Very good write up. Thx. Admins should make this a sticky]
 

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2002 Camry
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Discussion Starter #4
So if it OK if the Zerex coolant mixes with the leftover red coolant (since you are not getting out every bit of the red).
Zerex coolant is diluted 50/50. You can't use diluted coolant with the above distilled water flush method. Since approximately 2.6 liters of distilled water/coolant mixture is left inside the engine and heater core, the resulting mixture will be much less than 50/50 when you add the Zerex. With a diluted coolant, the best you can do is a drain and fill - no distilled water flushing. If you want to follow this distilled water flush procedure, you will need to use undiluted Toyota red, Long Life coolant.

Is it OK to remove the thermostat run during round 1 & 2? i.e when flushing with distilled water. (that way we don't have to wait for the t-stat to open).
It is a good idea and would save a lot of time, but unfortunately it will not work. The thermostat body has a sheet metal disk with a "U" shaped rubber gasket around it. The thermostat must be installed for the rubber gasket to seal on both sides. With the thermostat removed, the coolant will leak out between the engine block and the plastic thermostat cover, so it is not possible to run the the engine with the thermostat removed.
 

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イリジウム
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Nice DIY!

Toyota Red is an excellent coolant. But with a distilled water flush, the low silicate Zerex G-05 would be another alternative as well.
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
2003 Camry
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OMG! Why didn't you post this last week! Nice write up.

I just changed my coolant on my 03 last weekend. I just did one flush with water and then refilled approximately 50/50 Toyota red coolant. It didn't take an hour, but I had to take the plastic cover off from underneath the bumper to access the white drain plug on the radiator.
 

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2002 Camry
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Nice DIY!

Toyota Red is an excellent coolant. But with a distilled water flush, the low silicate Zerex G-05 would be another alternative as well.
JohnGD - Thanks for the kind words. In my opinion, you are one of the most knowledgeable posters on this forum. I pay attention when you post! :)

Zerex coolant is diluted 50/50. Since approximately 2.6 liters of distilled water/coolant mixture is left inside the engine and heater core after a distilled water flush as described above, adding Zerex will net you with a mix of approximately 30% coolant / 70% water. Not recommended. The way I see it, in order to use a pre-diluted coolant like Zerex or Toyota pink Super Long Life , you either need to get all of the old coolant out (ie. a coolant flush machine), or flush with distilled water and add a concentrated coolant like Toyota red Long Life coolant as described above.
 

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2002 Camry
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Discussion Starter #8
I had to take the plastic cover off from underneath the bumper to access the white drain plug on the radiator.
That's interesting. Is your Camry a six cylinder? On my 2002 four cylinder, the drain plug was in plain sight - no need to remove any covers.
 

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That's interesting. Is your Camry a six cylinder? On my 2002 four cylinder, the drain plug was in plain sight - no need to remove any covers.
There is never a need to remove the cover if you dont remove the drain plug all the way. The drain plug has a hole through the cover. When loose (not removed) the drain plug will channel the coolant through a hole in the cover.

If you dont have a cover that means it was removed and not replaced for some reason. Usually a lazy mechanic or it was broken parking against a curb. The main reasons for the cover are keeping the engine clean and aerodynamics. Wiggle your bumper up and down. Bet its loose. It helps support the bumper as well.
 

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Water Sloshing

I did this exact process and am now experiencing a sloshing water should when I make right hand turns. Do I need to continue to burp the system? Thanks!
 

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Sounds like a bubble in the heating core. Its probably gone by now, but the answer is starting the car with the heat on before replacing the cap after fill. Top off further if necessary after starting. As the coolant warms and expands, air comes out the open cap. Then just as it starts to overflow, put the cap on. All this while the car is running. Just remember, have the cap ready to go on. It may overflow a little, but its a small amount no big deal just hose it off.
 

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This is one of the best descriptions of a maintenance activity I've read on this site. Thumbs up!

I used it to guide me in performing a coolant change on my 2004 Camry 4-cylinder. The maintenance schedule for my Camry said to change the coolant at 100k miles and to use Super Long Life Coolant. I could find this coolant only in a 50-50 mix, so the dilution method described was not strictly applicable.

I bought 2 gallons of the 50/50 coolant at $16.99/gal. On my first drainage of the radiator I got about 4.1 gallons. I refilled the radiator with new coolant and ran the car for about 25 minutes with the heater on the highest setting and the fan on full speed. The coolant temperature gauge rose to its typical value (just above the 3rd index line) within 15 minutes and I let it run an additional 10 minutes to promote full mixing of the old and new coolants. I then drained 3.7 gallons from the radiator and refilled with the same amount of new coolant. I put the remaining 0.2 gallons of coolant in the coolant reservoir after I cleaned it.

In summary, I withdrew a total of 2 gallons of coolant from the system (including the contents of the reservoir) and I added 2 gallons of coolant. By my calculation I replaced approximately 83% of the original coolant, "wasting" about 2.5 qts of new coolant in the process. The entire procedure took me less than an hour. Also, I had the front end of my Camry raised on ramps, and this might have helped to drain an additional 0.2 gallons of coolant from the radiator.
 

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How many gaskets are used on thermostat and housing. I have seen rubber o rings and paper gaskets listed. Is it just an o ring or just a paper gasket or a combination of both?
 

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2002 Camry
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Discussion Starter #14
How many gaskets are used on thermostat and housing. I have seen rubber o rings and paper gaskets listed. Is it just an o ring or just a paper gasket or a combination of both?
It's been awhile since I did this procedure, but I am pretty certain that the thermostat is sealed by a single rubber gasket that stretches over the outside diameter of the thermostat.
 

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Good DIY - some recommendations

I just drain and refill with 50:50 red coolant every year. Keps everything relatively fresh. Simple and quick. No chance of air entrapment. Minimal wasted coolant. Only one gallon to recycle each year.
 

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About to attempt my first coolant flush!

DZ63 and TN, i am about to attempt my first coolant flush. Ive owned my 2003 camry 5 speed for about 6 weeks now and have only gotten the oil changed right after i bought it. It has 117,500 miles and will be getting a semi 120k mile service.

I have either already acquired or am waiting on delivery of spark plugs (OEM denso sk20r11), PCV Valve, Valve cover gasket, coolant (zerex asian 50/50) and 4 gallons of distilled bottled water, and a dog bone style upper motor mount (aftermarket off ebay, i will fill my old one with 3m window weld or some other polyurethane so i can have a spare or give it to a member on here). I pretty much have a good idea on how to do everything, just some questions about the coolant flush.

I did some research and see that other people do things differently in terms of coolant flushing. I really need to do a good job of getting the old coolant out of my radiator and engine block because when i opened the radiator cap, the coolant was GREEN.... the previous owners mechanic probably did it at 90k miles with cheap prestone or peak coolant. What was odd was the reservoir (overflow tank as DZ63 calls it) still had red coolant in it. As you can see, i really need to do a good job flushing all of this crap out before i start putting new coolant in.


My intentions are to drain the old coolant, get pure water in the car, then keep draining it and refilling until it is clear, then fill with zerex asian 50/50. I was probably going to use just tap water from my garden hose, and when it looks clear to then start flushing with distilled water a few times before i finally put in the coolant.


My questions:

1) should i remove the thermostat, then reinstall the housing in hopes of flushing more of the green coolant out (after flushing with water)?

2) Should i use a radiator flush solution or just flush it with lots of water. I did see sediment inside the reservoir with the red/pinkish coolant.

3) could i disconnect the hoses that go through the radiator into the engine and flush them through there, and are these easily accessible? (see pic)



4) how hard is it to access the petcock, radiator drain plug? I can probably
access it from up top, but dont want my arm to hit the radiator fan (i guess i can turn the car off), and i dont like getting under my car unless i have to, so could i access it with those small ramps people use when changing their oil? My old man has a set.

5) Since i am using 50/50 coolant, what is the best way to drain the cars cooling system of all the water i flushed it with? I realize that a percentage will still be lingering around in the engine block and other places.
 

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Jimmy,

You will need the wheel ramps. Get them.

The only advantage to removing the thermostat would be that you won’t have to wait for the engine to warm up to 170 degrees to open the thermostat. The disadvantages are that you will create unnecessary work for yourself, you won’t save much time, and you might damage the thermostat in the process.

Unless you have a basin for capturing the coolant mixture, please don’t disconnect the hoses and run the mixture out onto the ground or into the street when flushing the system. I’m no tree hugger but I do fish on occasion and I like to think my catch will not be contaminated by ethylene glycol runoff into the streams.

Don’t use a radiator flush product. The Toyota long-life coolant has a HOAT additive that created a passivation layer on the aluminum parts and the flush might well remove that layer.

From the photo it looks like you have the 4-cylinder engine (2AZ-FE). If so, draining the coolant is quite simple; you just remove the radiator cap, open the radiator drain plug and capture the contents of the radiator in a pan below the drain. You should get about 1 gallon of coolant in the pan.

If you drain, fill with distilled water, run the engine until the thermostat opens (temp gauge on instrument cluster will rise and stay pegged at a constant value), run 5 minutes to thoroughly mix the diluted coolant, then repeat the drain, fill, wait steps four more times you will have less than 1% by volume of green coolant left in the system.

I recommend you get the Toyota Super Long Life coolant (50% concentration) and return the “Asian” product to the store. Toyota’s formulation is proprietary and is not generically “Asian.”

You can get to almost 50% concentration in the coolant system using three gallons of 50% coolant. Drain the radiator, refill with 50% coolant, and run the engine until thoroughly mixed. Use a hygrometer to test the concentration. It should be about 30%. Repeat the drain, refill and run steps. Check the concentration again. It should now be about 40%. Repeat the drain, refill and run steps. Check the concentration once more. It should now be just under 50%. Call it 50% and you’re done.

The three gallons of coolant will cost you $50-60. That’s less than the Toyota garage would charge you to flush and refill.

If you have any coolant left you can add it to the reservoir after you clean it out. Otherwise, use distilled water. Check the coolant level after every trip in the car until you're satisfied that the air bubbles are out of the system. Add water or coolant as needed.


Have fun.

Bart
 
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