One of the easiest and most important car maintenance tasks that you should perform regularly is checking your car’s fluid levels. There are six fluids that you need to look at: the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant and windscreen washer fluid.
Checking the Motor Oil
Motor oil lubricates the moving parts of your car’s engine, prevents corrosion and helps control the engine’s temperature, so it’s a good idea to regularly check that you have enough motor oil and that it’s clean.
It’s important to make sure that the engine has cooled and the oil settled into its reservoir, so wait at least an hour after driving to check. Find the oil dipstick—your owner’s manual will tell you where it is—and pull it all the way out, clean it, put it back in and pull it out to get an accurate reading of your oil levels. Markings on the dipstick demarcate an acceptable range of oil levels. You should also check the oil’s colour. Fresh oil is clear and honey-coloured, but it turns dark and opaque as it gets old and dirty.
Checking the Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is normally contained in a labeled plastic reservoir. You can usually just shine a torch on the container in order to see the fluid level. Unlike transmission fluid or oil, brake fluid is used for a hydraulic pump, so it isn’t used up. Low levels indicate a leak, which you should have fixed immediately.
Checking the Transmission Fluid
With the engine warmed up and running in Neutral or Park, pull out the transmission fluid dipstick. The procedure here is exactly the same as with motor oil, except that fresh transmission fluid is generally a reddish colour.
Checking the Power Steering Fluid Levels
Power steering fluid is also kept in a clear plastic container, so all you have to do is look through its walls. There are usually two pairs of fluid lines: one pair for a hot engine and one for cold. The reservoir should also have fluid level indicators for both hot and cold. Check the level against the engine’s current temperature. Simply open the lid and pour in more power steering fluid if it’s low.
Checking the Coolant
Make sure the engine is cool. Otherwise, hot steam could spray out and burn you! Coolant sits in a reservoir near the radiator. There should be an external level indicator; just open it up and add more coolant if it’s low.
Checking the Windscreen Washer Fluid
The washer fluid reservoir is usually situated near the back of the engine bay. Like most others, it’s usually kept in a clear tank that you just need to look at and top off from time to time.
Checking the levels of each fluid seems tedious, but they’re all very quick and simple procedures, so it won’t take you very long to do regularly. It’s important an important maintenance task, since keeping your car in good condition is the best way to keep costs low as you pay down your car loan. We hope that you learned something from this guide, as well as from our other two guides on car maintenance basics: How to Change the Oil and Changing a Tyre. Look to 360 Finance for the best car finance solutions in Australia.