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You Need to Watch These Vehicle Fluids

Keeping your vehicle fluids at their proper levels help your car run smoothly and prolongs its useful life. They are one of the most important consumable parts of the vehicle and are needed to ensure it will continue to run. 

Vehicle Fluids Checklist

Aside from your fuel, you need to constantly monitor these vehicle fluids. And a failure to maintain these fluids’ optimal level could lead to engine deterioration, mechanical failure, and even road accidents.

1. Engine Oil

Engine oil
Engine Oil

Why is it important?

Engine oil ensures the lubrication of components inside the engine, so they all function smoothly.

How do you Check it? 

  • Turn off the engine for at least 10 minutes before checking the engine oil. Make sure you are on a flat surface.
  • Locate the dipstick (yellow/orange ring) under the hood.
  • Remove and wipe off the oil and insert again.
  • Pull it out again and check the oil level. If it’s below the minimum, add more engine oil. A low-level reading may also mean an engine leak, so make sure you check it and get it fixed asap.
  • Check the colour of the oil as well. It should be honey yellow or amber. A dark brown or black oil colour means you need an oil change immediately. On the other hand, a milky colour indicates that your coolant is leaking into the engine.
  • Finally, rub the oil between your fingers. If you feel particles or unusual roughness, this may mean that an engine component is wearing down inside. 

2. Radiator Coolant

Radiator coolant
Radiator Coolant

Why is it important?

The radiator keeps the engine from overheating by using the coolant to absorb and disperse the heat. 

How do you Check it?

  • Make sure the engine has cooled down before checking the coolant reserve tank or opening the radiator.
  • The liquid inside the coolant tank should be between the minimum and maximum lines. If not, open the cap and fill it to the top of the max level line.
  • You may need to check with your dealership or car manual on the proper type of coolant for your vehicle. 

3. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid
Brake fluid

Why is it important?

The braking system on most modern cars is hydraulic powered, which means that the brake fluid performs a critical role in how the whole system functions. Tell-tale signs that the brake fluid level is below the minimum or is contaminated are erratic braking response and a “soft” feeling on the brake pedal. 

How do you Check it?

  • Locate the brake fluid reservoir on your engine bay.
  • Open the cap and check the level and fluid colour.
  • Fill it if below the minimum and make sure the colour is translucent and not dark or milky.

4. Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid
Power steering fluid

Why is it important?

Older vehicles without an electric power steering system require the power steering fluid to maneuver at slow and high speeds. It also prevents foaming and corrosion while providing lubrication. If your vehicle does not have enough of this fluid, you’ll experience difficulty in steering. 

How do you Check it?

  • Locate the power steering fluid reservoir on the engine bay.
  • Measure the fluid level via the dipstick on the reservoir or the markings on the side of it.
  • Add the specified fluid type on your car manual if the fluid level is below the minimum mark. 

5. Windscreen Washer Fluid

Windscreen washer fluid
Windscreen washer fluid

Why is it important?

It cleans dirt, mud, or any obstruction on your windshield so you can see what’s in front of you on the road. Though this fluid is more important for driver safety than maintaining your engine, it is still wise to be prepared. Check on its level regularly before going on your trip. 

How do you Check it?

  • Look under the hood to find the container for the windshield washer fluid.
  • Open the cap and pour the fluid until you fill it to its maximum level.
  • If the fluid does not come out on your windshield, you might need to check the reservoir, pump, lines, or nozzle for damages or leaks.

6. Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid
Transmission fluid

Why is it important?

The transmission fluid lubricates and cools the mechanisms inside the transmission system. It also prevents the corrosion of these parts.

“healthy” transmission fluid is smooth and amber or red in colour. Otherwise, you need to replace it. “Bad” transmission fluid can cause rough shifts and erratic surges while driving.

How to Check? 

  • Turn on your engine and put the transmission on Park or Neutral.
  • The location of the transmission fluid reservoir differs from vehicle to vehicle, so make sure to check your car manual.
  • If it has a dipstick, measure the level through that. If it has none, we suggest you consult your manual or mechanic on doing it correctly. Fill the reservoir with the advised transmission fluid type if its level falls below the ideal level.
  • Once you added the new fluid, Shift your gears to allow the transmission fluid to flow on the mechanism.

7. Differential Fluid

Differential fluid
Differential fluid

Why is it important?

The differential fluid lubricates for vehicles with a separate differential system. This mechanism transmits the engine’s torque to the wheel (which is very important in maneuvering the car). To know if this is in good condition, you should be looking for a honey-coloured and translucent diff fluid. 

How do you Check it?

  • Unfortunately, there is not one general way to check this fluid. You need to consult your car manual or dealer for this.

8. Transfer Case Fluid

Transfer case fluid
Transfer case fluid

Why is it important?

The transfer case fluid lubricates and cools the components of the transfer case/transfer unit systems of 4WDs and All-wheel drive vehicles. This part of the drivetrain transmits power from the transmission to the front and rear wheel and assists in driving on both normal road and off-road tracks.

How do you Check it?

  • Unless sealed, check and change the transfer case fluid regularly. Consult your owner’s manual for the process to be followed.

Our Final Word

Proper vehicle maintenance encompasses all parts of the vehicle – the solid, the electronics, and the liquid (fluids). And this can only be achieved if followed religiously. 

Vehicle fluids

We know this can be a tough ask as we are all busy with our schedules. The good thing is OBD2 Australia offers the latest quality and affordable scan tools that can be used for different car models. These tools can help detect symptoms of trouble with your vehicle and help you perform some tasks where a scan tool is needed to perform an action, reset adaptions or check data.  

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