Introduction: How to Burp Your Car's Cooling System

Picture of How to Burp Your Car's Cooling System

This instructable will walk you through the simple process of "burping" or getting all of the trapped air out of your cars cooling system. This works for ALL Vehicles

If you have had any parts replaced on your cars cooling system (radiator, waterpump, new hoses, ect) then there is a chance that your cooling system has air trapped in it and this could make your cars cooling system operate poorly, or in worst cases minic the symptoms of a cracked  head.

So BEFORE you spend thousands of dollars at the mechanics having this done, try this and see if your cooling system operates normal (temp stays within normal , does not get hot or overheat).

Step 1: Things You Will Need

Picture of Things You Will Need

AnitFreeze or Dex cool, I used the 50/50 water dexcool mix

Spill free funnel ($20.00 on

Rag to wipe area clean

Time and Patience

Step 2:

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Make sure that your overflow tank is at the level of coolant where the line marked "COLD" is, make sure that you car is cold, do not try this with a engine that has been running.

Open your radiator cap, insert the angled peice of the spill free funnel into the correct cap for you car, then the main peice of the funnel on that, Make sure that you have all conections on sung so that there are no leaks.

Step 3:

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Now fill the funnel a little past half way, the reason for this is when your cars thermostat opens up the level will rise and drop with the opening and closing of it and with the escaping of the trapped air.


Step 4:

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Go to your car, and set the climate controll settings to the hot or heat setting but make sure that the fan/heater is in the OFF posistion.

NOW you can start you car.

Step 5:

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This is where the waiting happens, your car has to get up to temp so that the thermostat opens up to cool your engine, one this happens you will see the coolant level drop in the funnel, and a few to a large amount of air bubbles comming up from the coolant, this is the trapped air escaping your cooling system.

Sit back and watch this happen while enjoying a cold one, cuase in order to fully Burp your system the engine has to go through SEVERAL COOLING CYCLES........

I gave it the standard hour of running, if you still see air bubble comming out after that, check your overflow tank and make sure it has coolant in it. If it does not add some so the level is at the HOT line (becase you have now been running your car for awhile now).

The bubbles should stop and when it does turn your car off.

Step 6:

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Now you will use the plug that came with the Funnel and plug the hole in the funnel so you can recycle or put the unused collant back in its container, do this with the plug in the funnel , put the funnel in the opening of your coolant container and lift up to remove the plug.

Take the funnels cap off of your radiator and put your cap back on, use the rag to wipe any coolant off of your car.

Now when you drive your car you should see a big differance in how it cools your engine. If you are still getting high temp readings  you might want to check to make sure that your thermostat is working and replace it if needed.


HimselfE (author)2017-03-14

Hey i just replaced my thermostat on a 2013 jeep grand cherokee. Now my temp is running a bit higher than normal (gauge closer to middle) and I hear a gurgling noise when I start up and press the gas. Will this process help?

blivit (author)HimselfE2017-08-27

Earlier, a reader posted this -

"Worked great! I didn't even use the funnel. I took cap off reservoir let it run for 30 minutes and eventually it stopped burping. I put the cap back on..worked like a charm. I really thought it was a blown head gasket or bad thermostat. The temp was high and erratic and did overheat once. However after doing this burping procedure its steady and cool."

I've been thinking about this ! Would the following procedure be a good way to do this ?

With engine cold, fill radiator if needed. Place cold/hot control on hot. Add coolant to reservoir if needed to half full level. Leave cap off of reservoir. Start engine and let it idle. Add coolant to reservoir if needed. When "bubbles" disappear from reservoir, turn off vehicle. Adjust reservoir coolant level as needed.and replace cap.

mfrontuto (author)blivit2017-08-29

yes , and no, yes because that is basically what the funnel lets you do, but NO, because when the thermostat opens and closes the coolant level rises and lowers, and coolant would spill out of your radiator. so when you use the spill proof funnel it prevents the coolant from spilling out while letting you visually see if there are air bubbles still coming out of your radiator.

mfrontuto (author)HimselfE2017-03-14

I would check to see if your coolant level is low. make sure your car is cold, then start it up with the radiator cap off and see if the level is low. but you could have trapped air if the levels are good. This certainly will not hurt your system, go for it.

HimselfE (author)mfrontuto2017-03-14

I just finished the process tonight for about 35 more gurgling noise so that must have been trapped air. Thanks mfrontauto?

mfrontuto (author)HimselfE2017-03-17

Glad this helped

skeet777 (author)2016-11-26

Worked great! I didn't even use the funnel. I took cap off reservoir let it run for 30 minutes and eventually it stopped burping. I put the cap back on..worked like a charm. I really thought it was a blown head gasket or bad thermostat. The temp was high and erratic and did overheat once. However after doing this burping procedure its steady and cool. Very happy ( 2002 Cadillac Deville DTS )

mfrontuto (author)skeet7772017-01-31

glad I could be of help

Imacrazycajun (author)2016-12-12

What do you do if it overheats while burping?

mfrontuto (author)Imacrazycajun 2017-01-31

the car should not overheat during this process. after you have checked to see if your water pump is good, check the coolant levels, then if all of that is good and it still overheats take it to a mechanic to check the heater core and pressure test to check for head gasket leak, if it still has the factory gaskets in it you might want to check the LOWER Intake Manifold Gaskets out/have replaced

mfrontuto (author)Imacrazycajun 2016-12-12

that could be several issues, a blown head gasket, bad water pump or heater core... check by your water pump to see if you see any coolant leaking out by or around it... if that is the case the pump should have a "weap hole" where this happens, that is to visually show you that your pump is bad... if that is not the case you can have your heater core checked, or have a pressure test done to see if you have a bad head gasket. your car should not overheat while idling

JohnR447 (author)2016-09-13

Kind of curious. All the instructions I read and watch have the car on a flat surface. Seems to me it would make more sense to either have the front of the car on ramps or jack stands... Air rises through water, why not make the radiator cap the highest point? The top of the radiator should at least then be higher than the heater core, right?

mfrontuto (author)JohnR4472016-09-13

Hi John,

the radiator cap is the highest point, followed by the engine, then the heater core, which is located behind this vehicles glove box. Most/all vehicles are designed that way, unless it is some sort of custom/kit car

M_a_t_t (author)mfrontuto2016-10-26

another consideration is the vehicle itself, in my van the highest point is the heater core, then the radiator cap/ reservoir, then the engine.

AngelaJ45 (author)2016-06-24

Can i do this method if my radiator does not have a cap only my resevior does

mfrontuto (author)AngelaJ452016-09-13

I do not know as I have never tired to burp a cars cooling system like that

EricN59 (author)2016-04-19

I have a 2002 Chrysler Concorde. I tried using the bleeder for the coolant air. But I must have did something wrong. Because now all I get out of the bleeder is straight Steam air. I did this for about 5 minutes nothing but steam coming from the bleeder. What do you suggest?

mfrontuto (author)EricN592016-04-19

check to see if you have enough coolant in your radiator when it is cold, the try burping your system Like I have shown here

AlexandriaM9 (author)2016-04-15

I was trying to help husband cus he hasnt had time to change the thermostat so I did it. I thought it would be simple but now I think I might have bubbles cus I draied the coolant and added coolant back after and now the temp just keeps going way too high (up to 248). Would this method work for me? Its an 07 Cobalt. Please help!

mfrontuto (author)AlexandriaM92016-04-17

this should work for you, as when you drain/refill the system it puts air back into your system,, the air presses against the thermostat (new or not) and it has a hard time opening when it should did you also have you temp sending sensor replaced? if not it should be f it is a few years old. I like to drill a VERY SMALL HOLE in my thermostat , using the smallest drill bit that I have it ends up breaking the bit because it it so small) this is to allow the air that is on the engine side a way to go past the T-Stat. Yes your car has a bleed screw, but when your T-stat is closed and the air is on the other side that bleed screw does you no good. burp the system, if that solves the problem , good , if not change the temp sending unit as well

Gearheaded (author)2016-04-08

My 06 equinox is running cold. I just did the head gaskets and no problem there. Do I have to burp the coolant system?

mfrontuto (author)Gearheaded2016-04-08

cold huh? normally your car would run hot if it needs burping due to the thermostat not opening like it should... did you check to see if your thermostat is stuck open? that could cause it to run cold.

vondoom88 (author)2015-10-23

Thanks for posting this used it today on my 08 grand prix worked excellent.

mfrontuto (author)vondoom882015-10-25

your welcome.... just did this again last week as I replaced this cars thermostat, temp sending unit, and the pigtail/harness that plugs into the sensor.

Markfothebeast (author)2015-10-18

Despite all the complaints about DexCool coolant, I have never had an issue. It may have been reformulated or gasket materials may have been adopted to it. I have 252,000 miles on my 2004 Chevy Venture and have had zero issues with DexCool. I am rebuilding a 2004 Caravan 3.3l with 172,000 and I see absolutely zero damage to the internals, gaskets, aluminum and iron coolant galleys, and anything that the DexCool coolant ran through. It is apparently less acidic than standard coolant. My understanding is that some vehicle owners may add the standard green coolant to the DexCool and create a sludge like mix which causes potential issues. I did read the complaints and about the lawsuit, however, I have had no problems. I choose to run green coolant in my other vehicles due to price and I perform regular maintenance.

amclaussen (author)2012-12-23

Hi there, I have some comments for your Instructable:

1) I don't like DEXCOOL at all! To see why, just search for it in Internet, and soon you will start to see that it is frequently dubbed "DeathCool". GM decided to order Texaco a new (then) coolant formula. Those guys developed one that produced a lot of problems; you will read about gelled coolant, damaged intake manifold gaskets, totally ruined engines and thousands of legal demands and Class Action Suites!
I suggest that first you find the kind of coolant that the engine needs, then get a recognized brand. I use Chrysler's own "Long Life" formula with very good results. Today, coolant formulas come in several colors (but sometimes color is not entirely representative of the type of chemistry of the coolant). but if engine has Aluminum, iron and other metals components, a "Long" or "Extended" life type of coolant is most probably the best bet. Be aware that even when the container says something like "5-Year" formula, after the first change, it will NOT endure for so long, because now the engine will have some corrosion, therefore the replaced coolant won't last as long as when the engine was brand new, so a more frequent replacement is desirable. I do it every 3 years when using the Chrysler "5-Year" formula, toghether with a complete flush, back-flush and complete hose and belt exchange. in that way, my cars are as reliable as possible regarding cooling system performance.
2) Coolant is made with Ehylene-Glycol as its main constituent, and this chemical EATS most factory paints right away!, thus, if ANY spill occurs over any painted surface, you will need to have PLENTY of clean water at hand to wash and quickly dilute the spilled coolant. Your Instructable says: "have a rag to wipe any coolant off of your car", that is not enough, and can get some paint damaged.
3) Modern (say, after 1990 engines) do get to proper operating temperature in much less than an hour if the ambient temp is not too cold outside, therefore, after starting, about 15 minutes of idle is enough if the thermostat is in good working order.
Best wishes. Amclaussen, Mexico City.

Stevenhs8821 (author)amclaussen2014-11-07

Never heard that anti-freeze will eat auto paint. I tried googling this and couldn't find anything. Are you sure that you weren't thinking of brake fluid?

amclaussen (author)Stevenhs88212014-11-09

BOTH Brake fluid and Coolant have the same type of main component: Ethylene Glycol (or other glycols). These chemical compounds can dissolve the clear coat and continue to damage the color coat too. The only difference is that Brake fluid is almost 100% concentrated, and coolant solution has only about 70% or less concentration of the glycol. Therefore both can damage the paint, only that the brake fluid will do it sooner and harder...

In case of spillage, best get some water and quickly wash the paint WITHOUTtouching or  wiping it, as if the fluid has already started to attack the paint, any wiping will remove th top pf the coat and the damage will be worse!  The sooner the fluid is diluted, the less chance of ruining the paint.

mfrontuto (author)amclaussen2015-01-09

good advice, if this was a new car I would have done that, but this car is now 11 years old and I just try to do basic preventative maint on it to keep it running it top shape.

Malhecho (author)2012-12-26

a few years ago i screwed the pooch and blew my head gasket trying to backflush and burp.

mfrontuto (author)Malhecho2015-01-09

yeah I do not black flush for that very same reaosn, just burping is good enough for me

kreis-mendoza (author)2014-04-02

this is kinda cool cuz the instructions arent too a pretty inpatient woman lol

mfrontuto (author)kreis-mendoza2015-01-09

glad I could help!

it is also a good practice to get a VERY SMALL drill bit and drill a hole in the thermostat, the very small hole is just used for any air that is trapped in the engine side of they system to escape. Yes a little coolant will leak out of the hole, but that is why you make the hole as small as possible so it will not effect your system at all. Using the bleed screw in newer cars only lets some of the air on the radiator side of the system out when the thermostat is closed and will not get all of the air out.

where you drill the hole on the thermostat depends on if the thermostat is placed vertical or horizontal in your car.... but that is for another instructable :)

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