Scott of Rockland, ME may have identified a major oversight on Toyota's part:


After having major engine work done on my T-100 truck, at the Toyota dealership where I bought the truck new, I figuerd out that they neglected to properly flush the cooling system before adding new anti-freeze/coolant during reassembly.

At first I thought the dealer had decided to omit this important step, until I ordered the Toyota official repair manuel, directly from Toyota. This is when I learned that Toyota does not instruct the dealers or consumers to flush the cooling systems in Toyota vehicles. The repair manual only instructs how to drain whatever coolant will fall out, and then refill with new coolant. This process effectively contaminates the new coolant during installation.

The owners manual in Toyota vehicles has a page which discribes in much detail what "the Explanation of Scheduled Maintenace Items" is. Engine coolant is discribed as follows:

"Drain and flush the cooling system when scheduled. Refill only with an ethylene-glycol type coolant." 

In fact, this discribes what a dealer should do when Toyota scheduled maintenance is performed. What this all boils down to is that Toyota customers are being led to believe that Toyota dealers are flushing cooling systems before replacing with new coolant, when in fact, the dealers are simply following Ttoyota's instructions, outlined in the official repair manual, which does not include anything at all on flushing cooling systems.

This has been going on for a long time. I have two Toyotas -- a 1989 Camry, and a 1995 T-100. I bought both new, and have official repair manuals for both, neither of which has any info on flushing cooling systems. Yet both owners' manuels describe flushing the cooling systems when changing coolant.

This error or mistake or oversight could very well be affecting thousands.

Toyota has offered to reimburse me, once I have had the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed. I was really upset with the dealer for 3 weeks, and am now in disbelief that Toyota has not admitted this problem and acted swiftly to correct it.

Something else I have learned from my contact with Toyota is this - taking a Toyota vehicle to a Toyota dealer will not assure you of having original Toyota parts used. Toyota tells me that dealers are independent businesses and are allowed to use aftermarket parts on Toyota vehicles. I wonder how many Toyota owners are getting aftermarket parts installed, thinking the Toyota dealer is installing genuine Toyota parts.

Automan responds:
Blame all this on the EPA. The practice of "flushing" the cooling system with a hose, while draining out the bottom, is long gone. Shops can be heavly fined and shut down for doing that. Cooling system machines are very expensive and really do not do anything for a neglected cooling system other than disolve enough chunks to clog up the passageways inside the heater core and cylinder head.

The antifreeze/coolant like all chemicals loses it punch or effectiveness over time, and that time is about 2 year for regular and now 5 years for the extended life coolant. If you drain out the old coolant to the best of the design that it will let you, and refill -- making sure the engine does not get "air bound" and you get to sit around for about an hour just to make sure that does not happen -- you add the correct ratio of coolant and distilled water, you should have no cooling system problems.

No mattter what it is you "drain" there will always be a little left in the bottom. That is why I stand on my head and wait for the last drop of hot fudge to come out of the bottle before I open the new one.

Take it easy on the manufacturers. The only thing that I can fault them on sometimes is where they do or DO NOT put the drain plug on the radiator.

Automan is an ASE-certified master mechanic. He runs an independent auto repair shop in North Carolina.