6 Essential Fluids for Your Vehicle

Just as it is important for our survival to stay hydrated, it is just as essential for your vehicle to stay lubricated.  Here is our list of six essential fluids that are necessary to keep your vehicle on the road and in optimal condition.  1)Coolant (anti-freeze) In the summer when the weather is hot, coolant […]

Just as it is important for our survival to stay hydrated, it is just as essential for your vehicle to stay lubricated.  Here is our list of six essential fluids that are necessary to keep your vehicle on the road and in optimal condition. 

1)Coolant (anti-freeze)

In the summer when the weather is hot, coolant or antifreeze, keeps the engine cool and conversely, prevents it from freezing during the cold winter months. Also, the coolant helps prevent corrosion and deposits from forming. Antifreeze deteriorates over time and in newer vehicles should be tested after around 80,000km. Even if the cooling system seems to be working, test for acidity as well as freezing and boiling protection and also check for signs of rust and leaks.   So, antifreeze is an important fluid to check in your vehicle.

Your radiator can prevent your engine from over-heating or freezing, but only if it has adequate coolant. To check your antifreeze, you must first locate the radiator cap, which may be labelled “cooling system” on top of it, along with a warning not to open it when hot.

After opening it, you will be able to tell if the fluid level is filled to the top. There are different colors and varieties of coolant; check your vehicle owner’s guide for what type of antifreeze is best suited for your automobile, and be sure never to mix coolant types.

2)Windshield Washer Fluid

Windshield washer fluid is a very important solution to check.  You never know when you might encounter something on your journey where you will need to wash your front window.  Bugs and mud can pose a driving hazard so, it is imperative that you check that you are topped up.  How often you need to check your windshield washer fluid is a function of how often you use your windshield wipers. If you spray it frequently, check it whenever you get gas.

Consult your owner manual for specific amounts and instructions for fluid types that are recommended for your vehicle.

Windshield washer fluid is often brightly colored and, of all the car fluids, adding windshield washer fluid is perhaps the easiest. The cap usually has a symbol of a windshield wiper on it. If the fluid level is empty or low, pour washer fluid into the reservoir, filling it up to the top, and then close the cap.

3)Engine Oil

The purpose of engine oil ensures that the engine parts stay lubricated and are able to move in unison. Of all the car fluids, your oil is among the most important. Driving with no (or low) oil can cause serious damage to your engine.

That’s why it’s important to bring your car in for an oil change every 5,000 -7,00 km. While the mechanic checks your oil, have him check and top off your other fluids.

If you are confident to do this yourself, be sure that your vehicle is parked on level ground and that the engine is cold. This will help ensure you get an accurate measurement. Usually, your oil dipstick can be found near the front of the engine or behind it. Begin by pulling the dipstick out and wiping it clean with a rag or paper towel. Then, put it back in, all the way, and pull it out again. To check your oil level, look at the indicators on the dipstick that show a maximum and minimum level. If the oil mark is near the maximum level, it means your oil level is close to full. If the mark is near the minimum indicator, it means it is low and you should add oil. It could also be indicative of burning oil or an engine that is leaking, either of which will cause damage to your engine eventually.

When checking your oil, make sure you also pay attention to the color of the oil. Engine oil is a yellowish, amber color when it is new and, when it resembles a brown or black shade, it indicates it’s time for an oil change. Engine oil is one of the most important fluids to check in car.

4)Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid keeps your car’s power steering system lubricated and hydraulically enables you to maintain proper control of your vehicle’s steering wheel. In essence, this liquid helps to make turning your steering wheel a simple and manageable task.

Because car steering fluid doesn’t demand frequent servicing, it’s easy to neglect. When this fluid runs low, you may hear moaning sounds coming from your vehicle or have difficulty turning your steering wheel. To avoid these potential issues, inspect for leaks and check your fluid levels regularly by examining the power steering labeled dipstick in your engine bay.

The reservoir is under the hood, usually (but not always) closer to the passenger side, with a cap that should say “steering fluid” on the top of it. Most vehicles have a heavy-duty plastic reservoir, which makes it easy to check the fluid level without removing the cap. Just wipe off the container so you can clearly see the markings.

If it’s low, and there is no fluid leak, remove the cap and pour in the fluid until it’s full.

5)Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is another very important fluid to check in a vehicle. It lubricates and cools important parts of the transmission including clutches, gears and valves. When it is low, it can cause difficulty shifting and uncontrolled surging.

There exists a myth that many transmissions come with a “lifetime” fluid that never needs to be replaced. In truth, there’s no such thing as a lifetime fluid and your transmission fluid will eventually need to be replaced. However, in newer cars, this usually doesn’t occur until the vehicle reaches the 160,000 km mark.

Still, it’s a good idea to check your transmission fluid periodically. For an accurate reading, make sure your car is parked in neutral and the engine is running when you check it. For some vehicles, the process for checking your transmission fluid is similar to checking your oil. Start by locating the fill tube, if your car has one. Verify the level and then, with the car running and the transmission in park or neutral (consult your owner’s guide), pour the fluid in.

Note, for some cars, a mechanic is required to inspect it.

6)Brake Fluid

When you step on the brake pedal, it activates the brake plunger within the master cylinder. The pressure pushes the brake fluid out of its reservoir inside the brake lines, which causes the brake pads to slow your car.  As your brake pads wear, your brake fluid level also goes down. If it falls below the minimum indicator, add some fluid and also have your brakes checked.

Find the brake fluid canister, usually on the driver’s side near the top of the brake master cylinder. Remove the cap and make sure the brake fluid level is within a half an inch of the cap. Also note the color; if it’s black, it needs to be replaced, ideally by a mechanic. Be careful not to get any grease or oil mixed in with the fluid and remember that brake fluid is one of the more toxic fluids to check in a vehicle.

Now that you know how important each of these fluids are to the health of your vehicle, make sure you keep yours topped up and changed when necessary.  As usual, if you need assistance with any of these please contact us and if you would like to book an oil change or have us check your fluids for you, book a service visit with one of our certified service technicians.