A little maintenance on your vehicle will go a long way. There are many important parts to your car but the ones that are easily in your control are the fluid levels. This article will teach you how to check your automobile's fluids.
All fluids should be checked while your vehicle is on a flat, level surface. If the car is on a hillside the readings might be inaccurate which will just cause you a headache for no reason.
OilThe most important fluid to check is your oil. You should check this at least monthly if not more often. When filling up with gas it can be a quick and easy time to check your oil.
With the engine off pop the hood of your vehicle. Locate the dipstick (usually marked oil) and pull it out. Wipe off the dipstick with a towel or rag and then reinsert it. Pull out the dipstick again, this time take a close look at the end of it. You want the oil level to be a golden yellow and be towards the F for full side. You do not want the oil to be overfilled or on the low side. If the oil level is low you will need to add more so be sure to carry extra in the trunk of your car.
Engine CoolantThis should be check monthly. Your vehicle should have reservoirs to check the hot and cool levels. The hot portion is under the radiator cap. Never open this while the engine is still hot. The pressure might be built up so that the hot coolant would come out and burn you. The radiator levels should look normal. If you need more information on what a normal level should be read your owner's manual.
The cool portion of coolant is the overflow area where antifreeze is kept. This should be marked with minimum and maximum symbols. Make sure the fluid is within that area or you will need to fill it. The fluid should appear transparent. If the fluid is colored blue or red it should still be able to be seen through and not heavy or cloudy.
Transmission FluidCheck your transmission fluid monthly and change it every 20,000 miles or according to your owner's manual recommendation.Automatic transmissions have their own transmission fluid dipsticks. This dipstick should be read when the engine is running and warm for an accurate reading. It is similar to checking your oil's dipstick.
Manual transmissions need to be check underneath. You might not feel comfortable doing this yourself and need to take the car to a mechanic or service station. For this you can usually wait and do it yearly as part of your annual tune up.
Windshield Wiper FluidThis is the fluid that keeps your windshield clean when you depress that lever in your car. The liquid is usually has a blue tint to it. You can even buy specialized fluid that is supposed to keep bugs off the windshield. The reservoir for this should be of a see- through material so that you can check that the level is in between the maximum and minimum markings by just popping the hood and taking a look.
Battery WaterIf your battery is not a closed system you should be able to pop the top and check the distilled water levels. They should only need to be filled one a year but if you have been through an especially hot summer you will want to check the water levels more often. If it is low you will need to fill the cell that is low with distilled water.
If you have filled a fluid and it still is reading as low you probably have a leak. If this continues than you will want to have your car checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible so that no serious engine problems arise. While filling fluids try to avoid spills. It is also wise to keep a journal of when you filled the fluids as part of your maintenance records.