Part of being a safe driver is taking good care of your car. A car that is well-maintained and properly serviced will perform better, and therefore, keep you and your passengers safer. An important element of best practice car care is automotive fluid management. Your vehicle, no matter which make or model, requires at least 6 essential fluids for optimal performance and safety. These fluids are so important that you should get up right now and check your vehicle’s levels!
Continue below to learn which automotive fluids are the most essential and should be checked on a routine basis.
6 Essential Automotive Fluids to Check Regularly
The 6 most important automotive fluids that you should check on a weekly and monthly basis include motor oil, radiator fluid (coolant/anti-freeze), transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. In some cases, for vehicles that apply, you will need to address differential fluid levels and battery fluid levels too.
Also known as engine oil, this automotive fluid might arguably be the most important. Without it, your car simply will not run. Checking your motor oil levels easy and refilling the oil in your car is even easier. You will need to refer to your owners’ manual for instructions on locating the oil dipstick under the hood of your car. It should be clearly labeled and easy to find. This is the rod that will show you where your motor oil levels are at.
The lower down the rod the motor oil residue is, the less you have. Simply pull it out, wipe it with a cloth, then insert it back in. Then pull it out for inspection. You want the dipstick to be at least halfway covered in oil when you pull it back out. You should have your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or whenever your manual recommends.
Your vehicle’s engine gets hot; so hot, that it can damage the internal components and mechanism within the motor and other areas of the vehicle. To regulate engine temperatures, your car relies on radiator fluid, also known as coolant or antifreeze. If your car engine overheats, it is likely due to a low level of coolant. Fortunately, checking and refilling your radiator fluid is just as easy as checking your oil. Simply refer to your owners’ manual for instructions on locating and refiling your coolant reservoir.
Automatic cars use transmission fluid, which basically works as an internal lubricant to keep the gears shifting smoothly. Without proper transmission fluid levels, your car will begin to experience stress within the transmission system. You might notice slowed or struggling acceleration, shaking, or loud idling.
Checking your transmission fluid levels is the same as checking your oil, expect you do it while the car is running. There should be another dipstick somewhere under the hood of your car. Refer to your owners’ manual for specific instructions unique to your make and model. It is recommended to change your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, or every 3 years, whichever comes first.
Brake fluid is probably the second most important automotive fluid because it supports the ability to stop your car from driving. Having low brake fluid levels will result in delayed braking, brake squealing, and all sorts of other poor brake performance issues. To check brake fluid levels, be sure your engine is off and completely cool. Refer to your owners’ manual for instructions on locating the brake fluid reservoir. After today, check your brake fluid once per year.
Power Steering Fluid
Most cars require power steering fluid. If you notice that your steering wheel is getting harder to control, you could be low on fluid. Refer to your owners’ manual for instructions on locating the power steering reservoir, which is usually on the passenger side of the engine. Be sure the engine is off and cold before checking your fluid levels. Your owners’ manual may recommend differently, but the general rule of thumb for changing out power steering fluid is once every 2 to 3 years.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Most often forgotten or overlooked, windshield wiper fluid is an essential part of driver and passenger safety. This is a fluid anyone can re-fill themselves, as needed. Simply by this well-known blue solution at a gas station or auto parts store. Refill as needed.
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