Replacing fluid levels
(MS) – Do you know how to check motor oil levels? Are you aware of what type of water to use to tap off a car battery? Could it be time to add washer fluid?
If you’ve answered “no” or you aren’t sure about any of these questions, it might be in your best interest to learn the basics of car maintenance, which includes maintaining fluid levels. Otherwise you could be unnecessarily spending extra at the nearest service station.
There are a few areas of attention on a vehicle that require periodic checking and refilling of automotive fluids.
1. Motor oil: The overall consensus is that oil should be changed every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whatever comes first. Cars that are used less frequently may be able to go 6,000 miles between oil changes. However, if you notice performance issues, such as sluggish acceleration, it could be time for an oil change.
2. Transmission fluid: Most transmission breakdowns are traced back to poor transmission maintenance. Therefore, stay on top of transmission fluid. This should be topped off whenever needed, and actually flushed and replaced once a year for optimal performance.
3. Coolant: Because engine components have become more compact to save space and weight, cars actually run hotter than they used to. This means that maintaining the cooling system is imperative. Change coolant annually, preferably before large fluctuations in weather temperature.
4. Washer fluid: This fluid is expended often, so it should be checked regularly and replaced whenever the level seems low.
5. Brake fluid: This is probably the most ignored fluid in the car, and the most important. Brake fluid is not petroleum-based, so it can absorb moisture from the air, which diminishes its effectiveness and lowers braking performance. Check this fluid with every oil change to make sure levels are adequate. Brake fluid should be replaced every two to three years so that sludge does not build up.
6. Power steering fluid: This should be checked twice a year and topped off whenever necessary.
7. Car battery: If your battery is an unsealed variety it will need water to operate correctly. The cells on the top of the battery can be opened to check the water levels. Only use distilled water to bring up the levels.
Last modified Oct. 8, 2008