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Ron, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 33097
Experience:  23 years with Ford specializing in drivability and electrical and AC. Ford certs and ASE Certs
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2002 Ford Explorer: radiator cap..drained..the antifreeze..replacing

Customer Question

How do I refill a radiator that has no radiator cap? Greetings. I just drained all the antifreeze from my 2002 Ford Explorer, with the intent of replacing it with new. However, there's no radiator cap, just a reservoir tank. I drained out over 4 gallons, but the reservoir tank would only take about 5 quarts. There seems to be fluid in the upper radiator hose, so I'm guessing the radiator has fluid. How do I refill the other three gallons?

More details: Tried running the engine with the reservoir cap open. The engine pushed antifreeze up and out of the cap, rather than sucking it down. Tried running the engine with the reservoir cap closed, and nothing significant happened. Cannot find any bleeder valves or anything of the sort.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Ron replied 7 years ago.



Thank you for asking your question on JustAnswer.


The problem you are describing is most likely trapped air in the cooling system , the trick is to jack the front of the truck up so the radiator is higher than the motor and then start the engine and allow the engine to warm up, as the thermostat opens the air will rise to the top and allow the coolant to fill.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I tried running the engine for about ten minutes with the heater on. Heater was still blowing cold air. Do I need to let it run longer? Can I run the system with so little antifreeze and not damage the engine?
Expert:  Ron replied 7 years ago.
The trick is to jack the front of the truck up so the radiator is higher than the engine. Yes it need to run as long as it take to open the thermostats.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks. I did that too (jacked the front end up about 6 inches). It was a little hard starting this time. It seems that the engine may have a very large air bubble. If the water pump does not have any antifreeze in it, won't that harm the water pump? Sorry for the repeated inquiry. I'm fearing damage to the engine.
Expert:  Ron replied 7 years ago.
No you are fine to ask as many as you want , your not hurting the water pump. Just watch the temp as you are filling it.
Ron and other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Yep, that did the trick. I was weary of running the engine with no coolant in it, but figured that must be the ticket. Since it's a cold day, I had to let it run about 15 minutes before the thermostat opened. Once it did, (of course) I got heat, and the reservoir tank took more fluid, to total about 3 gallons replaced. Eventually am able to replace more, presumably as the engine cycles out the air pockets.

I haven't worked on vehicles in a long time, and most cars newer than '95 confuse me sometimes. Hard to believe that this system's "better" than the old way. Heck, the only way I can replace the tranny fluid is to take it to the garage. Grr...

Thank you for your answer.
Expert:  Ron replied 7 years ago.
Glad to here all went well. Thank you very Much.