Traction coolant flush

I seem to have a habit of buying Citroens that have ditch water in their cooling system.     I spent quite a bit of time flushing out the system of the DS21, and now I need to do the same for the traction.

The Traction currently has a habit of marking its territory after every drive with a nice dirty stain where the coolant has spat out the overflow.   I normally have to top the radiator up each drive or so, which is something I want to have looked at when the car goes in for rego.   Therefore, before that happens, I wanted to get the system as clean as possible, and the first step was the flush it out as best I could.

Unlike a ‘modern’ car, the Traction has a screw on radiator cap, then a mechanism to allow overflow at a certain pressure built into the radiator.   The mechanism on my car does not seem to be working anymore.   Many people convert their tractions to regular radiator caps due to the problems I am having, as well as that the cap is quite hard to remove.

Traction radiator cap

The radiator drain for the traction is not as easy as the DS.   It is at the bottom of the radiator, accessed from the right hand side of the engine bay.   It is quite close to the hot exhaust manifold as well as the metal engine fan which does not have a shroud, so care is needed to operate it when the car is running.

Radiator Drain

I had already fitted a clear hose to the radiator overflow for when the car ‘spits’ after a drive, but the drain is a different outlet, so a second hose can be used to make sure it does not dribble all over the engine.

All I did was let the coolant slowly drain out while the car was running, and then keep topping it up to make sure the radiator core was always immersed.   A traction is much easier to do than a more modern car as there is no thermostat that could prevent the block from being flushed also.     After the first 20-30 minutes the coolant was still very dirty, but it slowly cleaned up, and from the photo you can see the last bottle in the row is much cleaner than some of the early samples I took.


Next step is to put in a cooling system cleaner and do another flush.

UPDATE (22/8/15) – The cooling system cleaner was well worth it with the same amount of crud again being flushed out of the system.

3 comments to Traction coolant flush

  • hi..i just purchased a 1954 11D 5 weeks ago. here in hot and humid charleston south carolina USA i am concerned about the engine overheating. i do not know if there is a thermostat in it now.
    however, i am trying to find out the running temperatures for this engine. usually in usa cars can run up to 190 to 220 degrees Farenheit. Is this also true for the Avant.
    would you or anyone know about this?
    appreciate your assistance

    • admin

      Congrats on your purchase.
      Traction engines do not have a thermostat fitted from the factory. South Carolina is probably not too different in climate to Australia and the 4 cyl tractions generally run reasonably cool. Some have fitted thermostats to their cars, but I have not. Here is a link to somebody who has done it:

      The cooling system is low pressure so should run more like 70c, I think that is more like 160f.

      Traction does not have a temperature gauge but you could fit one to the top hose.

  • HI…mcenaney back.
    dont know about australia temps. however, what i thought, as here in charleston,sc the temp for our summer now is averaging 95-100 degrees farenheit.

    what i did however, was to buy a thermostat from jose frannssen in belgium.
    it is calibrated at 90 degrees celsius or 190 Farenhiet.

    now i am in a quandry. i do not know what traction avant 1954 engine running tepmerature should be. I simply compared a US automobile, which is running temperature about 191 degree Farenheit. And arranged the avant accordingly.

    BUT i do know there is a french another thermostat from jose franssen which has a 70 cegree CELSIUS calibration. This is a significant difference 158 farenheit.
    so i need to know the running temp of the avant. anyone got some data on this please???

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