How To Check When Car Fluids Need To Be Changed

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The fluids in your car may not leak out of your engine, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them and expect your vehicle to maintain peak performance. It’s important to know how to check the oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission, and windshield washer fluids, as well as how to refill them when necessary. Taking just five minutes to check the dipsticks could save you hundreds of dollars in repairs.

Engine Oil

The engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. It lubricates the internal parts of the engine and removes debris and contaminants from internal combustion. We recommend checking the oil at every other gas fill-up. You need a rag or paper towel. Check your auto manual. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors. Some cars need to have the oil checked when the engine is warm. Make sure your car is on level ground. Open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull it out and wipe off any oil from the end. Then, put the dipstick back in and push it all the way down. Pull it out and read the dipstick. Most likely, it will have a gauge for low or minimum. If the oil is low, you’ll need to add oil. Look at the color of the oil. It should be brown or black when in need of service. Oil change intervals can vary based on the make and model of your vehicle. Consult your vehicle’s manual to determine what kind of oil your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

Engine Coolant

As a general rule, you should check the coolant in your car every six months. Once before the hot summer temperatures hit and once before the coldest weather in winter. However, if your car’s thermostat begins to read hotter, you should check the coolant. Generally, you should check the coolant when your engine is cool. There should be a translucent coolant overflow tank next to the radiator. Look on the side of that tank for a hot or cold level to see if there’s enough fluid in the system. If it appears low, check the manufacturer’s manual on how to add coolant and what type of coolant is recommended for your car. Most manufacturers recommend a coolant flush every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

Power Steering Fluid

If you have a squealing noise or whining when you turn the steering wheel, it’s a good indication that you may need power steering fluid. It may also be difficult to turn the wheel. Generally, you should check the power steering once warmed up, but you should always check the recommendations from the manufacturer. The tank has a dipstick that will tell you if the level is too low. Typically, a drop in the levels is usually due to a leak in the system somewhere. You should get a power steering fluid change about every 75,000 miles or about every two years.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid activates by flowing fluid to all four wheels once the brake pedal is engaged. It applies pressure to the rotors, which lets you stop the car. If you find yourself having to press down all the way on the brake pedal to stop the car, you might be low on brake fluid or need a brake fluid change. Pumping your brakes is another way to tell if your brake fluid is low. Generally, you should replace your brake fluid every two years or 30,000 miles, but again, it’s best to know the manufacturer’s recommendation for your vehicle.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Windshield washer fluid is used more than any other liquid in your car because you use it more often. The reservoir empties much quicker. At every oil change, you should have the level checked and refilled. If you use bug wash in your car over the summer, at the end of the season, you will want to get a washing fluid change to go into the winter months. During the colder months, your washer fluid should be equipped with antifreeze to prevent it from freezing and damaging the reservoir and pump.

Talk to a Sun Devil Auto Technician

If you’re concerned about the levels of fluid in your vehicle, talk to one of our technicians at Sun Devil Auto. We can advise you on if you need any fluids added or changed and when you should perform regular maintenance. We’re here to help you keep your vehicle running at peak performance all year long.