How to Drain a Radiator Plug on a 2002 Saturn SL


The radiator on the 2002 Saturn SL is the main component that holds all of the antifreeze coolant needed to keep the engine cool. The coolant circulates from the radiator through the thermostat and then through the engine. The coolant then returns to the radiator. Once the antifreeze coolant starts to break down, it cannot protect the engine as well as it should. This is why it is recommended to replace the antifreeze coolant every 30,000 miles.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Pliers
  • Fluid catch pan
  • New antifreeze
  • Park the car on a level surface, and let the engine cool off completely before attempting to drain the radiator.

  • Pop the hood of the car, and remove the radiator cap. This will allow the coolant to drain faster. Make sure the radiator has cooled before removing the radiator cap.

  • Look under the radiator on the front, driver's side of the car, and locate the drain plug on the bottom. The plug has a small turn handle built onto the drain plug. Slide the fluid catch pan under the plug.

  • Turn the drain plug counter-clockwise with the pliers while pushing inward on the plug. This will loosen the plug, and the coolant will drain from the radiator into the catch pan. The more you loosen the plug, the faster the coolant will drain. Wait for all of the coolant to drain into the pan.

  • Tighten the drain plug by turning it clockwise while pushing inward on it. Tighten the plug until it will not turn anymore. Test the tightness by filling the radiator with the proper coolant. Start the engine, and let it run for about 5 minutes--long enough for the coolant to circulate through the engine. Examine the drain plug for leaks while the engine is running.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once the drain plug is tightened until it stops turning, it should not leak.
  • The proper coolant to use in the 2002 Saturn SL is Dex-Cool Antifreeze.
  • Always make sure the engine and the radiator are completely cooled off before removing the radiator cap or the radiator drain plug.
  • Always wear safety glasses when draining antifreeze.

Related Searches


  • Haynes Repair Manual: Complete Repair Guides for 1991-2002 Saturn S Series; Bob Henderson; 2004
  • Photo Credit radiator humor image by John Sfondilias from
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