One of the simplest and most important things you can do for the life span of your vehicle is to make sure that the Car Fluids are kept at the proper level and in great condition. Performing the scheduled maintenance services addresses the state of the liquids, but it’s essential that the fluids stay at the right level between these services.
Here’s a brief analysis of the five most important fluids found in many cars, and how to check the levels.
1. Engine oil
Description: All internal combustion engines require engine oil to ease the moving internal parts. Without oil, these parts would overheat and could totally seize.
Precautions: Engine oil is a potential cancer-causing agent, so please make certain to wear gloves if you have them, and wash your hands properly after handling engine oil.
Risks associated with low fluid levels: Giving the oil a chance to get below the base level of the operating range can have harmful effect on engine performance, including the chance of complete engine failure.
How to check the level: Most vehicles have an oil dipstick, with maximum and minimum marks, for checking the oil level. Pull the dipstick all the way out and wipe the base clean with a dry cloth. Again re-insert the dipstick totally, and remove it again, this time keeping it held upright or level so the oil doesn’t keep running up the dipstick to give an incorrect reading. The point upto where the dipstick is now covered in oil is where the level is; ideally some place between the extreme check levels.
2. Engine coolant
Description: Heat is a common byproduct of the internal combustion engine. Engine coolant immerses this heat and scatters it through the radiator, permitting the engine to stay at a designated operating temperature.
Precautions: The engine coolant can be very hot and under a lot of pressure. This can make opening the system more hazardous. If you do have to open the system, please be cautious to just do so on a cold engine, and do it gradually, or you risk getting seriously burned.
Risks associated with low fluid levels: A low coolant level can lead to engine overheating, which can bring about serious damage.
How to check the level: The most ideal way to check your coolant is after the car has been sitting for a few hours, normally before starting after sitting overnight. A few vehicles allow you to check the level just by looking through a translucent coolant extension or overflow tank, and confirming that the level is between the extreme marks. Others require that you open the radiator or pressurized extension tank (normally found in German cars) to check the level.
3. Brake fluid
Description: When you lower your brake pedal, the master cylinder (which is connected to the brake pedal) moves brake fluid through the brake lines and into the brake calipers or wheel cylinders where it is utilized to apply the brakes.
Precautions: Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture in the surrounding environment. Keep all brake fluid containers and supplies firmly tightened until you have to add fluid, then promptly seal them up again after adding the fluid. Brake fluid is also more damaging to paint, so if you spill any, make sure to thoroughly wash the region with soap and water immediately.
Risks associated with low fluid levels: If the brake fluid is permitted to get too low, you could encounter a loss of brake pressure, or even a complete brake failure.
How to check the level: Most modern vehicles use a translucent plastic supply that allows the fluid level to be checked without opening the system. Similarly with the other fluids, you are simply viewing the fluid level through the reservoir; make sure that the fluid level is between the minimum and maximum marks.
4. Power steering fluid
Description: Many manufacturers now provide vehicles with more efficient electric power steering systems, which reduce drag on the engine, bringing about better efficiency. Also, there are a number of vehicles out there using hydraulic power steering systems. These systems utilize pressurized power steering fluid to help you turn the steering wheel.
Precautions: Power steering fluid composition changes between manufacturers and some are potential cancer-causing agents. As a routine it is suggest to wear gloves and completely wash your hands properly after handling the liquid.
Risks associated with low fluid levels: Low fluid levels can bring about a complete failure of the power steering system, which could result in an accident.
How to check the level: Many power steering reservoir caps have a dipstick incorporated with them, or they use a translucent repository that permits you to see the fluid level from the outside. The procedure is similar to checking the engine oil: Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, and after that re-insert and remove it again. The level should be between the minimum and maximum marks. If it’s the sort with the translucent reservoir, simply look through it to make sure that the fluid level is between the marks.
5. Windshield washer fluid
Description: Windshield washer fluid does precisely what the name implies–– it washes the windshield of your car.
Precautions: Washer fluid is quite harmless, however relying upon the alcohol and detergent content, it is a potential skin irritant. If you get some on your skin, you can simply wash it off with cleanser and water.
Risks associated with low fluid levels: The main risk of having low washer fluid is that you may come up short on fluid and be not able clean your windshield when you have to, possibly limiting your visibility while driving.
How to check the level: The decent thing here is that you don’t really need to check the level. Most vehicles don’t have an approach to check the level. Rather, if you run out or you believe the fluid is getting low, you can simply fill the repository all the way back up to the top any time you want –– there’s no danger of overfilling it. A few vehicles have a built in level sensor to caution you when the level is low.
A friendly disclaimer
This list is not all-inclusive, nor is it vehicle-particular. It’s a general manual for the most critical fluids in the majority of cars on the road. In case you’re experiencing difficulty finding any of the fluids listed above, your vehicle owner’s manual will usually have a diagram specific to your model.
These checks should be performed when the vehicle is stationary, on a level surface, and with the engine off. If any of the fluids are observed to be low, it is strongly recommended that you top them off with the correct fluid (e.g., the right weight of oil, and not just any oil you have lying around) and have the vehicle checked by a mechanic, to analyze why the fluid level was low.