So you know you need to check the car’s fluids. Dealerships like Starr Motors tell you when you buy the car. You have been told; you have read it here. But it leads to the same question How do you check the fluids. For each type of fluid, there is a different way to check. Keep in mind, always read the owner’s manual before checking the fluids because each car manufacture can have different specifications.
Remember that each type of fluid gets checked in a different way. This is the basics on how to change each type of fluid.
Oil: You want to check the oil after the car has been running. While you don’t want the engine to be hot, you do want it to be warm. Oil contracts and expands so to get an accurate reading the engine needs to be warm.
To check the oil, make sure the car if parked on a level surface. After turning the car off, wait about 20 minutes to let the oil drain back into the oil pan. Open the hood and find the dip stick. It will look like along piece of metal sticking up from the engine, near the spark plugs. Many dipsticks have a T handle or have a T on the fill cap. Using the loop at the end of the dipstick, pull the dipstick all the way out. Use a rag to wipe off the stick. Replace the stick all the way to the bottom. Then, pull it back out again. Read the oil level by how high the oil is on the stick vs the marking on the sticks. If the lines only has 2 lines, then the oil should be between these 2 lines.
Brakes: To check the brake fluid, find the brake master cylinder, which is usually located under the hood on the driver’s side. Think where the brake is and where it would travel up to through the engine. The brake master cylinder is a small rectangular piece of metal. It will have a plastic reservoir with a cap on top. The cap usually reads “Use only DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid from a sealed container.” Newer models sometimes have a reservoir that is see through and you can see the levels without moving the cap.
Coolant: Antifreeze, radiator fluid or coolant is one of the most important part of keeping the car from overheating. Find the plastic reservoir tank. There should be at least some residue of coolant, which usually looks green or orange. It is usually labeled and is near the radiator. There is a hose that runs from the reservoir to the radiator, which lets you know that the tank is not the windshield wiper tank. You should be able to see where the coolant is by looking at the Full line. If the engine is hot, do not remove the reservoir cap. It is under pressure and can cause a serious burn.
Power Steering Fluid: Checking the power steering fluid is usually easy. The reservoir is either plastic or metal and the cap usually says power steering on the cap. You can see the levels by looking through the sides. Some will have a dip stick attached to the cap. There are marks for warm and cold.
Transmission Fluid: To check the transmission fluid in a car, make sure the car is parked on level ground. Start the car and wait for it to warm up. Find the dipstick. It is located on the back of the engine. The dipstick looks like the oil stick except it is shorter. Sometimes it is even labeled. Pull the dipstick out completely. Wipe the dipstick and replace it back in. When you pull it back out, look at the tip of the stick. There will be full lines for both cold and warm. Do not overfill.
Keeping up on the fluids means that the moving parts stay lubricated and receive less wear and tear.
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