5 Automotive Fluids You Should Be Checking

There are a lot of components involved in keeping a vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. Performing regular vehicle maintenance per the recommendations laid out in your vehicles owner’s manual goes a long way to protect and lengthen the life of each of these components. Some of the easiest, and maybe even most important, ways you can maintain your vehicle is to regularly check and change its various fluid levels.


Here are five fluids you should be checking:

We recommend checking your fluids once a month to make sure they are clean and maintaining the proper levels. Regular checks will help you know when it’s time to change or if there is a leak or other problem. Always check your fluid levels before going on a long trip.

Brake Fluid

The brake master cylinder reservoir is usually located at the back of the engine compartment. The reservoir is typically transparent and has “minimum” and “maximum” markings. If you need help locating it, you can look in your owner’s manual for help. When you locate the reservoir, make sure it is at least two-thirds of the way full. If it is not, you can top it off by adding more fluid up to the “maximum” line. Take note of the color of the fluid when you check it. If it is a golden color, then it is still in good shape, if it appears brown, then it will need to be replaced. The brake fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 45,000 miles. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommendations specific to your vehicle. If you find that your fluid level is getting low regularly, you may have a leak and should bring your vehicle in for maintenance right away.

Coolant

Coolant prevents corrosion and provides lubrication for the water pump. If your vehicle runs low on coolant, it is likely to overheat. Often, the tank that contains the coolant is transparent with “minimum” and “maximum” markings on its side, making it easy for you to see if the fluid level is low. You should at least check your coolant level twice yearly, once before summer and again before winter is best, and completely replace it every two to three years. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicles specific recommendations. Before adding more coolant, always make sure your engine is off and cool.

Engine Oil

Engine oil, often considered by mechanics to be the lifeblood of a vehicle, is probably the most important fluid. It lubricates your engine, reduces friction, and prevents harmful engine overheating. As a general rule, engine oil should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, you should refer to your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specific recommendations. To check your engine oil levels at home, simply pull out the dipstick and wipe off the oil with a clean rag, then put it back in and pull it out a second time. The dipstick has markings that say full or low, your oil level should be between those marks. If the oil appears dirty or is at or below the low marking, then it is time for an oil change.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid lubricates your vehicles steering gear making it easier to steer. When power steering fluid levels are low you may hear a strange sound, often a strong whirring noise. You will also likely begin to feel a resistance in the steering wheel. The power steering fluid reservoir, like the coolant reservoir, is usually transparent with fill markings on the side. However, sometimes it has a dipstick that you remove to check fluid levels. If it is a little low, add some more fluid. If you find that you have to top off your power steering fluid level regularly you may have a leak. If this is the case, bring your vehicle in for maintenance as soon as you can for repair. A power steering fluid flush is recommended every 30,000 to 100,000 miles depending on the vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specifics.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid provides the hydraulic power needed to shift gears and perform other transmission functions. It’s best to check your transmission when the fluid is warmed up, so check it right after the vehicle has been driven. Locate the transmission dipstick then take the same steps as you would for checking the engine oil. Be sure to check the color of the transmission fluid as well. It should be bright red in color, however, it turns brown/black in color over time. If your fluid has changed color, it might be time for a change. Newer vehicles often come without the transmission dipstick, so you will have to bring your vehicle in to have the fluid condition and level checked. You should check your owner’s manual for your vehicles specific recommendation, but most modern transmissions require a fluid change every 50,000 to 100,000 miles.

At Accurate Service, our highly qualified automotive repair specialists are happy to help you check and replace your automotive fluids as needed. For over 20 years we have offered the best automotive services in Tucson, AZ, at the best price. Call us at (520) 622-7685 or schedule an appointment online.