Most of us go out for an oil change completely neglecting the other essential fluids that our vehicles need to stay up and running. A vehicle is, quite literally, a machine made up of moving parts, all of which rely on the maintenance of fluids to stay functional. Below are four key fluids and the role they play in keeping your vehicle running smoothly.
When we think about essential car fluids, oil is typically the first thing that comes to mind. That’s for good reason, as oil is basically the lifeblood of any vehicle. The engine’s oil pump works to move oil through the engine, lubricating essential parts and reducing wear and tear. To check your oil level, open the hood, remove the oil dipstick and clean it, insert it back into the oil compartment, then pull it back out. The oil level will be indicated on the dipstick, with a gauge that typically lists an F (full) and L (low) for reference.
Your oil level should never reach a low enough point that the oil indicator appears on the dash as it could indicate that you’re close to blowing your engine out. Be sure to check your oil level often and refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency of oil changes.
This fluid is especially important in the summertime. Coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze that resides in a vehicle’s radiator and works to regulate and release heat from the engine. It’s also equally as important during colder months as it keeps the engine from freezing. While this liquid does not need to be checked and replaced as frequently as engine oil, it’s important to check it at least every six months, coinciding with the arrivals of summer and winter. Your coolant level can be checked in the overflow reservoir, which usually appears as a white container under the hood. If the fluid level is at the minimum line, it’s time to add more. If it’s not replenished, you could run the risk of your car overheating.
If you’ve ever experienced low power steering fluid, you know how difficult it is to pull the steering wheel in any direction without it. That’s because the power steering system uses hydraulic pressure to create an ease of motion between your steering wheel and tires. While there is no set dashboard icon to indicate low power steering fluid, the first sign is whining sound when you turn the steering wheel and hold it in that position. As a rule of thumb, power steering fluid should be checked as often as you check your oil.
If oil is the lifeblood of the engine, so too is transmission fluid for the transmission. Transmission fluid keeps the transmission lubricated and helps block build up, which ensures your vehicle’s gears continue moving smoothly. If your transmission oil gets too low, your vehicle may experience delays between gear shifts. Generally, you should check your transmission fluid every 30,000-60,000 miles, but be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency.
If you’re experiencing any of the above performance issues but are unsure how and where to check your fluids, bring your vehicle in to Atlantic Tire & Service. We’ll make sure all fluids are topped off so that you can continue a smooth driving experience.