Car maintenance: check the fluids
An inexpensive way to keep your car in good condition and to prevent engine wear or damage, is to check the fluids. It is is a fairly easy process, easy enough to do it yourself, but it does take some know-how.
1- Engine Oil
To keep the moving parts lubricated, your engine needs oil. Oil check should be done at least once a month to make sure that there’s enough and that the oil isn’t contaminated. Make sure the engine have been cold for at least 10 minutes before you check the oil. Find the dip-stick, take it out and wipe it with a clean rag. Then put it back down into the same pipe and out again to look at the film of oil on the end of the stick. See where the oil line is. There should be a notch to indicate a safe oil level. If you need to add oil, make sure you know which grade of oil you ought to be using in your car. If it’s dirty or smells like gasoline, it’s time to get an oil change.
2- Brake Fluid
The brake fluid is pressurized, it adds power to your braking. If it’s level is too low, air is introduced into the brake lines and your vehicle won’t stop properly. Look inside the reservoir to see where the fluid level lies. Make sure that the brake fluid level is within half an inch or so of the cap. Consult the manual to make sure you add the proper brake fluid for your vehicle. If the brake fluid reservoir is empty when you check it, you may have to bleed the brake system. Check the colour, if it’s dark, you might need to get it changed. Have your brake fluid changed every two years. Doing so protects the hydraulic components from internal corrosion and premature brake failure.
3- Transmission Fluid
Checking your transmission fluid can prevent many expensive issues from developing. You can check the transmission fluid the same way you check the engine oil, with the other dip stick. If it’s dark brown to black, smell like burnt toasts or has particles in it, might be time for a change. If you have transmission problems, check the transmission fluid level before you take it to your mechanic.
4- Engine Coolant
If your engine is overheating, you might need to check the coolant. Engine coolant (or anti-freeze) ensures your engine doesn’t freeze or overheat by absorbing engine heat and dissipating it through the radiator. Always wait for the engine to cool down before checking the coolant because it expands when heated. There should be a maximum and minimum indicators on the tank. If you need to fill it up, make sure it’s with a product approved for your vehicle. Be careful when you buy it though, you can buy pre-diluted or not. If the level seems normal but your engine is overheating, look under your vehicle to see if there is any leek.
5- Power Steering Fluid
If you’re having difficulty turning the steering wheel or a high-pitched whining noise issues from the steering wheel when you turn it, chances are your power-steering fluid is low. Some new models rely on electric steering, but most power steering systems are hydraulic. These systems use pressurized fluid to help us effortlessly turn the wheel. Look for either a dipstick or reservoir. If you have to add fluid frequently, there is probably a leek and you should get it checked.
6-Windshield Washer Fluid
That’s obviously the easiest one. So easy that some vehicles don’t even have a warning light on the dashboard to let the driver know they are running low. Just make sure you fill up your reservoir before going on a road trip and keep a jug in your vehicle just in case. Also good to know, windshield washer fluid is used to clean your windshield but it also lubricates the components of the windshield washer system.