11 Jan 2020

Fluid Check: Five Fluids That Keep Your Vehicle Healthy

 

Fluid Checks: 5 Fluids That Keep Your Vehicle Healthy

If you’re like most vehicle owners, you probably already know that maintenance is key to keeping your car running smoothly. One of the most critical components of vehicle maintenance is making sure you’re regularly performing fluid checks. The last thing you need is a mechanical breakdown on a busy day – that can really throw a wrench in your plans (pun intended). To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the five most critical fluid checks to keep your vehicle healthy and running as it should.

Keep It Well-Oiled

Oil is one of the most critical fluids that you should regularly check. And just because it’s essential to your vehicle’s health, doesn’t mean it’s difficult to check. Most cars have an oil dipstick located on the top portion of the engine. If you can’t find the dipstick, try referring to your owner’s manual – or do a simple Google search for your vehicle model.

Before you check your oil, you should make sure that your vehicle has been shut off and sitting for at least ten minutes. This gives the oil a chance to settle and cool off so that you get the most accurate oil level reading as possible. Start by pulling out the dipstick and using a clean towel or cloth to wipe it clean. This step is a must! Then, reinsert the dipstick completely and pull it back out. The dipstick will have a minimum and maximum line marked on the metal shaft. Check to make sure that the line of the oil falls in between those two lines. Don’t overfill!

And, as always, make sure you’re getting regular oil changes, too. It’s not enough to only check your oil level. Changing it out every 5,000 to 7,500  miles helps to keep your engine running smoothly (please refer to your owner’s manual on when you should change the engine oil).

Keep It Cool(ant)

Checking your engine coolant is the second-most important fluid maintenance check for your vehicle. Without the proper amount of coolant, your engine can quickly overheat – which can be a fatal mistake for your vehicle’s engine. 

The most important thing you need to remember is that you should NEVER open your coolant reservoir when your engine is hot. You should only perform this check before starting your vehicle for the day or after it has had a chance to cool off for a few hours. Opening the coolant reservoir when your engine is hot can release the pressurized, scalding hot coolant and cause severe burns.

This fluid check is an easy one. Start by finding the plastic coolant tank in your vehicle’s engine bay. It’s usually located up towards the front of the car, by the radiator. Most coolant tanks have a minimum line. Make sure that the coolant is above this line. If you need to add coolant, make sure you’ve got the right mix. Some coolants come pre-diluted in a 50/50 mix. This means that the coolant has been diluted with 50% water. If you buy the coolant concentrate, you’ll need to add water to create the 50/50 mix yourself.

We suggest that you check your coolant levels every 50,000 miles – as long as you don’t spot any leaks under your vehicle.

 

Keep It Moving with Transmission Fluid

The transmission in your vehicle is one of the most critical mechanical components. Without a properly functioning transmission, you probably won’t be going much of anywhere.

Doing a fluid check for your transmission fluid is pretty straightforward. Like an oil fluid check, your transmission fluid can often be checked with a dipstick. Follow the same steps as the oil check. Pull the dipstick, wipe it, then reinsert it to get a quick fluid check for your transmission.

If you can’t find the transmission dipstick, you may need to take it to a professional to verify that your transmission fluid is still in good shape. Healthy transmission fluid is a clear/pink color, so if you notice that the transmission fluid is dark, discolored, or smells burnt, you should go see a mechanic to get your transmission fluid changed.

Smooth Sailing with Power Steering Fluid

Like other fluid checks, checking your power steering fluid is a quick and simple check that makes sure you keep in control while you’re driving. Without power steering fluid, your vehicle becomes difficult to steer and can result in an accident.

Like coolant, the power steering fluid reservoir is usually a plastic tank. It’s usually located on the passenger side under the hood of your vehicle, towards the windshield. Look for that little minimum marking on the reservoir to see if your fluid falls above this line. If it’s low, you can remove the cap and add more, but you should also check to make sure there’s no visible leaking.

Streak-free Visibility with Windshield Wiper Fluid

If you’re like most drivers, you probably understand that a dirty windshield can really reduce your visibility while driving. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you keep your windshield washer fluid filled. 

This fluid check takes a matter of minutes. Plus, windshield wiper fluid is one of the cheapest fluids in your car and you can pick some up at nearly any store. Like other fluid checks, find the windshield wiper fluid reservoir under your vehicle’s hood. It will typically be marked with a wiper icon so you can clearly identify it. 

If you can’t see any fluid or it’s below the minimum line, you can open the reservoir and refill it. There’s really no excuse not to do this fluid check because it’s so cheap and easy to do.

So, there you have it. These five fluid checks are essential to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and safely. Take this time to look for any visible leaks in your fluids. They’re so easy, you can do it yourself – whether or not you’re a car expert. Just remember that quick preventative fluid checks like these can save you time and money in the long run by preventing major mechanical failures. 


 

Sources

Oil: https://www.angieslist.com/articles/6-fluids-check-under-your-hood.htm

Coolant: https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a25986/check-fluids-oil-car/

Transmission fluid: https://totalnewswire.com/keep-your-car-in-shape-this-spring-by-maintaining-these-7-fluids/

Power steering fluid: https://totalnewswire.com/keep-your-car-in-shape-this-spring-by-maintaining-these-7-fluids/

Windshield wiper fluid: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2008/12/car-care-five-fluids-to-check/index.htm

Expert Tip by Team WheelPair

Being a DIYer and a car enthusiast used to be easier. If you’re really ok with downtime and the possibility for extra costs incurred by your potential mistakes, knock yourself out. Otherwise, we suggest someone with some experience on the clock for a project.

Team WheelPair, Team WheelPair