Our cars are a crucial part of our day to day lives. Unless you enjoy walking everywhere, and many do, your car gets you to and from work, the grocery store, parties and social gatherings, and more. Without a car, your world becomes much smaller and the things you can do become limited.
If you depend on your car as much as most do, having it break down is the last thing you want. There are many steps you can take to help prevent a break down, and one of the most important is checking the fluids in your vehicle. It can be confusing to someone who is not car savvy, so here are some of the most common fluids you may encounter as a car owner.
POWER STEERING FLUID
- What It Is – makes turning the steering wheel easier and with less difficulty when maneuvering the vehicle.
- Why It Is Important – if you neglect to keep your power steering fluid full, you’ll begin to hear strange creaking noises and groanings when turning the steering wheel. You’ll also find the wheel is stiffer and does not turn as easily.
- How to Change It – when you pop the hood of your car, you’ll find a reservoir that is usually labeled on the cap. Open the up and find the maximum and minimum lines to find where the power steering fluid should be filled to and add more if needed. You should check it once and month or when you feel a change in how the steering wheel moves.
- What It Is – also known as antifreeze, coolant keeps your engine running at the optimal temperature.
- Why It Is Important – car engines can wrong hot, very hot. Without coolant, you run the risk of your vehicle overheating, which can not only cause a break down, but could permanently damage your car’s mechanisms.
- How to Change It – locate the radiator cap underneath the hood of your car. When you uncap the radiator, you should find a line that marks where the coolant should be filled to. You can add more if it’s below that line, but never mix different types of coolants, or it could have a nasty effect. You should check it two to three times a year and keep an eye on it whenever you’re under the hood for other check ups.
- What It Is – brake fluid is what helps your brakes wrong smoothly and properly, without a hitch.
- Why It Is Important – if you brake fluid is worn out and aged, your brakes will suffer the consequence. Brake fluid is not only the lubricant that stops corrosion on your vehicle, but it is also responsible for stopping vapor bubble buildup in the brake system. If the brake fluid doesn’t do its job, it could lead to a brake failure, which is unsafe and opens the door to an accident.
- How to Change It – most vehicles allow you to check the brake fluid from the outside of the container whenever you have the hood of your car open. You don’t usually run out of brake fluid, but it can go dirty and bad. If it seems the liquid is a dark brown instead of the proper golden color, then it’s time to change it. It’s also easier to simply have the brake fluid changed whenever you get your oil changed at the mechanic’s shop.
- What It Is – motor oil is a highly valuable component of your vehicle, keeping all moving parts lubricated to avoid friction while they run.
- Why It Is Important – with so many moving parts, and many rubbing against each other, keeping the parts lubricated is vital. Failure to do so will lead to break down on the many parts that make up your car. And once it reaches the point where the friction has permanently damaged on piece, the others will not be far behind. Not replacing your motor oil will destroy your car in the long run, which is something no one wants to happen.
- How to Change It – the simplest method is to take your car into the shop for a few minutes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. The mechanics have changed the oil on thousands of cars and can do it quickly, efficiently, and will often check up your other fluids at the same time. But, if you want to change your own oil, here are the steps:
Prepare Your Vehicle – you will need motor oil, a new oil filter, an oil pan, and something to raise your car. Many experts prefer a ramp system, but many use a jack. It is up to your personal preference and what you feel is safest. Raise the vehicle so you can get underneath and set the oil pan underneath the car as well. You will have to idle your car for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up the oil, otherwise it will not flow out properly. Lastly, it is recommended to pop up the hood of the car, find the gas camp, and remove it. This will help drain the oil.
2. Drain the Old Oil – on the underside of the vehicle will be an oil drain plug. Check your owner’s manual to find precisely where it should be located. Remove this and give some time to allow the oil to drain completely into your oil pan. Take caution as the oil may be very hot.
3. Replace the Oil Filter – locate the old oil filter and remove it carefully. Be sure not to touch the hot engine around it, and be warned that it will be filled and heavy with oil that you’ll want to empty into the oil pan. For some cars, you’ll need a wrench to loosen the old filter before removing it by hand. Once you have it removed, use a rag to lightly clean where the filter was. It’s a good idea to use the rag throughout the process to clean stray oil. Open your new filter and insert it where the old one was, making sure it is securely in place.
4. Pour In the New Oil – be sure to read your owner’s manual first as it will have the specific amount of oil you should put into your car. Close up the oil drain plug tightly and use a funnel to pour the new motor oil into the filler hole located on the top of the tank. Use the dipstick to ensure you’ve poured the proper amount. It is also recommended by some experts to run your car for a few minutes and then check the level again.
5. Properly Dispose of the Old Oil – used motor oil is extremely toxic and unsafe for the environment. It is absolutely crucial that you not throw it into the grass or down a drain. It is best to transfer the cooled oil to a cannister and then take it to a local auto parts store that accepts used oil for recycling. Be responsible and take care of your oil the right way.
As you can see, there are many different oils and fluids that keep your vehicle running like clockwork. It can be overwhelming for those who don’t have vast experience, especially new drivers. Never be afraid to go to an auto part’s store or to a mechanic to ask questions or get help with checking and changing the fluids. And if you ever do run low on a fluid and experience a break down on the side of the road, remember us here at Tow Truck Henderson to get you where you need to go in no time.
If you found this article helpful and insightful, then consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites so your friends can read it too. Who knows how long it’s been since one of your friends change their brake fluid, or if they even knew it was there! And if you have any helpful tips or tricks regarding changing the various vehicle fluids, comment below to share the knowledge!