Checking your car fluids regularly is an important part of an effective vehicle maintenance routine and can help you ensure your car runs well for years to come. You should check your vehicle’s driver’s manual to make sure you understand the specific amounts of fluids your car requires and review the refill instructions. Here are six important fluids to keep an eye on to improve and maintain the performance of your car.
Image via Flickr by Nenad Stojkovic
Transmission fluid is an important fluid to monitor because it lubricates and helps cool various aspects of your vehicle’s transmission, including gears, valves, and clutches. If your car is low on transmission fluid, it can cause you to have a hard time shifting or lead to uncontrollable surging while you drive.
While you may think your car’s transmission fluid doesn’t need to be checked, vehicles typically run out of this essential fluid when they hit the 100,000-mile mark. It’s important to have a service technician check it out when they perform routine maintenance. If you want to evaluate it yourself, locate the fill tube if your vehicle has one, evaluate the level, and keep the car running with the transmission in neutral or park as you pour in the fluid.
Engine oil, located under the hood of your vehicle, helps lubricate essential parts of your engine so they can all move in unison and keep your car running. This is the most important fluid for your car, and driving without it can cause severe damage to your engine. Depending on your vehicle, you should bring your car in for an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. It may be easier to take your car into a service center and rely on a technician to check and change your oil, though you can also keep an eye on it yourself.
Make sure to park your vehicle on level ground and have a cold engine before checking out the engine oil. You can find your oil dipstick either in front of or behind the engine, and to check the engine oil, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, and then insert it back into your vehicle and pull it out again. The dipstick should indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels, allowing you to assess whether your fluid level is within the desired range.
Every time you step on the brake pedal in your car, you activate the brake plunger, which pushes brake fluid out of its reservoir inside the brake lines. When the pressure releases this fluid, it allows the brake pads to slow your car to a stop, making it essential for driving and operating your vehicle.
Fluid levels typically reduce as brake pads wear, so it’s important to bring your car to a technician when your brake fluid falls below the minimum indicator. The brake fluid canister is typically on the driver’s side of the vehicle by the top of the brake master cylinder.
Coolant, also called antifreeze, helps keep your vehicle’s cool, making it especially important during the warmer months. This liquid also helps to prevent your car from freezing in the winter and reduces the likelihood of foam, corrosion, and deposits forming. Although your radiator is crucial in preventing your engine doesn’t overheat or freeze, it can only operate with adequate coolant.
Over time, coolant typically deteriorates, making it essential to test it after newer cars hit the 50,000-mile mark. Although your cooling system may appear to function properly, a service technician can still check for freezing and boiling protection, test for acidity, and identify any sign of leaks or rust forming.
Power-steering fluid allows the power-steering system within your vehicle to function by reducing the amount of effort it takes to turn the steering wheel. This hydraulic fluid is located under the hood of the car, usually near the passenger side, underneath a cap that’s typically labeled “steering fluid.”
If your vehicle has a standard heavy-duty plastic reservoir, you should be able to evaluate the fluid level without taking off the protective cap. If it’s low, make sure that there’s no fluid leaking from a crack or hole in the reservoir, then remove the cap and pour in the fluid until you reach the capacity.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Maintaining a clean windshield is an important part of staying safe on the road and ensuring visibility. While it’s easy to forget to refill your windshield washer fluid, this is an essential aspect of caring for your vehicle and being a cautious driver. Your windshield washer fluid level depends on how frequently you spray it and how often you use your windshield wipers.
For example, if you live in an area where your car collects pollen or you do a lot of highway driving and bugs frequently hit your windshield, you may run out of fluid faster than other drivers. Consider checking it every time you refill your gas tank, as you may be able to find it at your local gas station and fill it up before you get back on the road.
Understanding your vehicle’s fluid levels is an important part of taking care of your car, truck, or SUV. Fluid use and requirements can vary from vehicle to vehicle and may depend on your driving habits, location, and other factors. Older vehicles may require more frequent maintenance checks, so it’s important to meet with a service technician to discuss how often you should evaluate your car’s fluid levels.
If you’re interested in having your car’s fluids checked or you require other maintenance services as well, make sure to stop by our service center to speak with one of our knowledgeable and experienced technicians. Here at Huffines Chevrolet Lewisville, we want to help you feel safe and secure while driving, and we understand that your time is valuable, which is why we also offer an express service center, to get you back on the road as soon as possible.