Your car is a very large investment. Checking fluid levels regularly helps protect your car from breakdowns, mechanical damage, and even potential accidents. Learn to check the fluid levels in your car and check it often. Once you learn how to do it, it won't take long.
Step 1. The owner's manual tells you when the fluid levels should be checked, but this is only the minimum to keep the warranty in force
Mark your calendar, or just check your fluid levels frequently.
Step 2. Park the car on a flat, level surface and set the parking brake
Step 3. Open the hood (read the link to do it the safe way)
Step 4. Check the motor oil
The oil should be checked until the car has cooled down for an hour or two, for the oil to return to the galleries, engine cylinder head, etc. it is drained so as not to get a false reading. Locate the dipstick (use your owner's manual). Insert a finger through the loop and pull the rod as far as it will go, releasing all the clips that hold it in place. Use a paper towel or rag to wipe the oil off the dipstick for a clear reading. Insert the rod again and push firmly all the way. Take it out to get the oil level reading. When you're done, put the rod back in place.
- The dipstick has markings that indicate the acceptable oil level (usually notched, dimpled, or written). Double check the markings you see with your owner's manual. If the oil level is too low, you must add a suitable motor oil for your engine before the car can be driven. With a new car, take it to the agency service or parts department, ask them to teach you how to add oil and buy the oil and the funnel that the mechanics use. With an older car, take it to an auto parts store; They will show you where to add the oil directly to your car, and they will recommend which one to buy. Because some engines consume more oil than others, adding oil can also become a frequent task.
- Look at the color of your oil, too. Clean motor oil has a light, golden color. Dirty oil is black or brown. If yours is dark, take a look at your car's records to see when the last time the oil was changed. Dark oil can still work very well in your car, so be more guided by elapsed time than by color.
- You should also change the engine oil according to mileage and elapsed time. Check your owner's manual for proper intervals. Even if you don't complete the recommended mileage, schedule an oil change once every six months. The simple fact of being parked in the garage, the oil in your car breaks down and becomes less efficient. Change the oil more often than the recommended times if your car has severe use.
- If you have to change the motor oil frequently or there is a pronounced leak it may indicate a leak in a gasket or it is the consumption of your car. Always check under the place where you park your car. Also look for signs of oil leaks on the external parts of the engine, and if you see any oil or consume oil consistently, take your car to the mechanic and explain what you have noticed.
- If the oil looks milky or foamy, it may be contaminated with coolant, and should be inspected by a mechanic. This condition could indicate a broken head gasket or other serious problems.
Step 5. Check the transmission fluid (if you have an automatic transmission, see the suggestions in the manual)
This is generally done with the engine running and fully warm, either in neutral "N" or parked "P", depending on the make and model. It will be the second of the two rods. As with the oil, locate the dipstick, pull it out (release all clips), clean, push back to the bottom, pull it out again, and read the level. Again, find a level between the two marks on the dipstick.
- This transmission fluid is reddish in color due to it being quite cool. Transmission fluid does not need to be changed as frequently as motor oil, but it does need to be changed from time to time. The interval can be up to 100,000 miles on newer cars, check your manual to be sure. If yours looks brown, black, or burned or doesn't look fresh, consider replacing it. Transmission oil lubricates the transmission, the gear system of your car.
Step 6. Check the brake fluid
Check your manual for the location, or look under the hood for a plastic reservoir labeled brake fluid. If the reservoir looks like this, you can see the fluid level right through the plastic. Clean dirt from the outside, if necessary. It can also be helpful to push the car gently onto the suspension with your hips, hands or knee, causing the fluid level to shake a bit. If you still can't see it, remove the lid and go inside.
Cars should not consume brake fluid. A low brake fluid level can indicate a brake line leak or worn surfaces. If your brake fluid is low, take your car checked to find out why. A car with low brake fluid or leaking brake fluid may fail to brake
Step 7. Check the power steering fluid
In general, this is also a plastic reservoir. It reads through the walls, like you did brake fluid, by opening the cap and pouring more of the proper power steering fluid into the reservoir. There may be two pairs of lines, depending on the current condition of your car.
Step 8. Check the coolant
Make sure the motor has cooled down, otherwise the boiling liquid could spray out when you open the reservoir! The coolant will most likely be a reservoir right up front, near the radiator.
- Cars are designed to run on antifreeze as the coolant, not water. Antifreeze is a mixture that has a lower freezing point and generally a higher boiling point than water. If you have to replenish the coolant, buy the right one.
- Read the antifreeze label. Some formulas claim to be a mixture of half water; while others must be completely filled with the liquid. The antifreeze label will tell you what type it is.
Step 9. Check the windshield washer fluid
- The washer fluid does not affect the performance of your car, but it is necessary to clean your windshield while driving, especially on the road.
- The cleaning fluid is formulated to clean bugs and other road debris, it's inexpensive, so it's really worth it, although refilling with a little water will get you out of a pinch.
- There is generally nothing wrong with having a low level in your windshield washer fluid. Although you naturally use this when you are driving and cleaning the windshield. Just fill in before it's completely empty.
- If the weather is very cold, be sure to use windshield washer fluid that doesn't freeze at low temperatures. Cleaning liquid with a low freezing point is specially marked as such.
Step 10. Check the air pressure in your tires.
It is not one of the fluids under the hood, but it is essential for the efficiency and safety of your car. You should check tires even more often than engine fluids. Check the tire marks. Remember that they must be rotated every 5,000 km.
- This is a good time to review and update maintenance records. When was the last time you changed the oil or tuned up the vehicle? When is the next maintenance schedule? Have you rotated your tires lately?
- Cars with a manual transmission may also have a master cylinder clutch reservoir which, like the brake master cylinder, can leak downward and needs to be refilled.
- For rear-wheel drive cars, the differential case should be checked as well.
- Standard transmissions have lubricant that must be checked as well, and this is done under the car.
- Take maintenance log notes on anything you find, especially anything out of the ordinary. Also be aware of changes in fluid levels and other maintenance activities.
- If you find a low fluid level, check it again soon and often, and check under your car and on the road for leaks. If you find a leak, take your car to the shop.
- A cold engine is one that has not been driven for several hours. A hot or warm engine is one that has been driven recently.
- It is also a good idea to check the air filter frequently. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are housed in a variety of ways. Cleaning the filter with an air compressor is not recommended as this damages the filter. The amount it costs to replace the filter will save you gas consumption.
- Don't check the level of fluid, such as oil, just before turning off the engine. Give it some time for the oil that ran to the engine to settle back into the reservoir. Otherwise, it can give a low level reading, when in fact it is not, with the subsequent result of overfilling.
- Never dump car fluids on the ground, into drains, sinks, or sinks. Collect them in a bottle and ask your local auto parts store or mechanic shop about recycling or disposing of them properly. Antifreeze is attractive to pets, and fatally poisonous.
- Make sure when you replace any fluid in the car it is the proper type of fluid, or you may cause damage to the vehicle. If your car requires Mercon V type transmission fluid and you put in regular Mercon / Dexron "3", you can damage the transmission.
- Avoid getting any type of fluid on the paint of your car; some fluids can damage the finish. If you do happen to spill something, immediately wipe up the residue completely.
- The brake fluid must be perfectly clean and free of moisture. It is extremely important to clean all surfaces thoroughly before opening your car's brake fluid tank. The slightest contamination prevents your brakes from working properly. Don't use the brake fluid you opened a month or two ago. An unsealed container of brake fluid becomes damp from the atmosphere. Too much moisture in your braking system can cause failure. If there is any doubt about its age, use a new factory sealed one.
- Never smoke, light fires, or allow open flames when checking levels or replacing automobile fluids, especially lubricants. These liquids can be flammable.