How to Change Coolant on a Kawasaki Drifter Motorcycle

Although Kawasaki’s Drifter is inspired by the graceful touring motorcycles of the 1940s, the Drifter benefits from the use of a modern, liquid-cooled V-twin motor. Featuring lower operating temperatures and higher performance, the Drifter can be ridden harder, faster and longer than other air-cooled cruisers. Keeping the cooling system operating at its peak, however, requires regular maintenance in the form of draining and replenishing the liquid coolant. Kawasaki recommends a full coolant change once every two years.


1) Remove the rider’s seat. Locate the mounting bolts beneath the seat’s flaps and remove them with a hex socket. Lift the rear of the seat upwards and pull it to the rear of the motorcycle to disengage the seat’s catch tab from the frame.

2) Unscrew the fuel tank’s lower mounting bolt, located at the base of the tank, using a hex socket. Disconnect the vent hoses from the fuel tank. Place a wooden block over the seat mounting point on the frame. Pull the fuel tank to the rear of the motorcycle and lay it on the wooden block.

3) Locate the radiator cap on the right side of the motorcycle. Twist the radiator cap counter-clockwise to remove it. Set the radiator cap aside for now.

4) Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. Place a large container beneath the drain plug. Using a hex socket, remove the drain plug and allow the coolant to drain. Inspect the drain plug O-ring for damage, replace the O-ring if it is torn. Install the drain plug and tighten it with a hex socket.

5) Remove the water pump drain plug from the right engine cover with a hex socket. Allow any remaining coolant in the engine to drain into your container. Reinsert the water pump drain plug, tightening it with a hex socket.

6) Remove the right side engine cover, using an Allen socket to remove the cover’s mounting bolts. Pull the engine cover away from the motor to access the coolant reservoir. Remove the reservoir from the motor, using a hex socket to remove the reservoir’s mounting bolts. Pull the coolant hose off of the reservoir to drain any remaining coolant.

7) Clean the reservoir using a bottle brush to remove any buildup. Reattach the coolant hose to the reservoir. Fill the radiator with coolant until it is level with the bottom of the radiator’s filler neck. Remove the filler cap from the reservoir and add coolant into the reservoir. Continue to fill until the coolant is level with the “Full” mark imprinted on the reservoir. Replace the reservoir’s filler cap.

8) Check all of the drain plugs to ensure that they are tightened. Start the motor to pull coolant through the radiator and coolant lines. Bubbles should form within the radiator and should be visible from the radiator filler neck. Stop the motor once the bubbling from the radiator coolant dissipates. Reinstall the radiator filler cap. Refill the coolant reservoir to the “Full” mark.

9) Reinstall the reservoir onto the motor, using a hex socket to tighten the mounting bolts. Mount the right side engine cover, using an Allen socket to tighten all mounting bolts.

Extra Tips:

* Pre-mix your coolant before beginning the job. Follow all manufacturer provided mixing instructions.

* Have the work performed by a qualified Kawasaki technician if you do not feel comfortable with the work required to complete this project.

* Do not use a coolant that is not certified for use with aluminum motors. Using an inappropriate coolant could result in irreversible damage to the engine’s components and crankcase.

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