6 Automotive Fluids & How to Check Them

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Although we are all guilty of neglecting our automotive maintenance duties from time to time, your vehicle fluids should be checked at regular intervals. The amount of time in-between fluid changes depends on how often you drive your vehicle, but its a good idea to check them frequently or more often than recommended to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive. While your owner's manual will give you specifications and help with where to locate the fluids, it's good to have a little bit of extra help in your back pocket if you decide to take on the title of homegrown mechanic.
Ready to whip that vehicle into tip-top shape? Here are 6 Automotive Fluids and How to Check Them. We've also included YouTube videos to give you that extra visual assistance because hey, we know, cars are complicated!

1.) Check motor oil

Checking your motor oil is one of the most important (if not the most important) of all of the automotive fluid changes.  Motor oil (or engine oil) is any well-developed lubricant used for the lubrication of internal combustion engines.
1.) Wait for an hour or so for the engine to cool down, and for the oil to settle from the drain pan into the engine.

2.) Under the hood, locate the dipstick ring and pull it out. Wipe with a rag.

3.) Return the dipstick all the way, then pulling it out again. The stick will tell you the proper level with two marks, and the oil level should fall between these. If it's lower than the lowest mark, you might want to consider visiting a mechanic.

4.) Observe the consistency and colour of the oil. If it's extremely dark, it's time for an oil change. Any foam? A sign of contamination and time to see a mechanic.
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How to Change Engine Oil on Youtube
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How to Change Engine Oil on Youtube

2.) Check transmission fluid

Transmission fluid is the liquid responsible for lubricating all of the moving parts inside your transmission.

1.) Also checked with a dipstick, only this time the engine should be warm and running during your inspection.

2.) Transmission fluid should never be low, and could be a sign of an issue, prompting a visit to your mechanic.

3.) Any burnt smelling fluids are a warning sign, or if fluid is brown instead of red in colour.
How to Check Transmission Fluid on Youtube
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3.) Check coolant level

Coolant, or antifreeze, is the coloured fluid (most times red or green) found in your automotive radiator. It is most importantly responsible for keeping the water in your engine and radiator from freezing in cold temps, or boiling over in the summer.

1.) Cool the engine before checking.

2.) Checking the coolant is as simple as finding the plastic antifreeze reservoir and observing the level markings.

3.) If levels are low, replenish with proper coolant/antifreeze suitable for your vehicle.
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How to Check Coolant Level on Youtube
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4.) Check power steering

Power-steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid responsible for transmitting the power in power steering.

1.) Read your owners manual or find your vehicles plastic power steering reservoir  and observe the outside markings.

2.) If fluids are low, it's a sign of a problem and should be checked out by a mechanic.
How to Check Power Steering on Youtube
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5.) Check brake fluid

Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic brakes and hydraulic clutch applications. It transfers force into pressure, and amplifies braking force. 

1.) Find where your vehicle braking fluid reservoir is located. 

2.) Check reservoir levels. If levels are low, it is usually the sign of a leak and should be taken to your mechanic. 

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How to Check Brake Fluid on Youtube
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6.) Check washer fluid

Windscreen washer fluid (or wiper fluid) is used for cleaning your vehicles windscreen  while you drive.

1.) Locate your washer fluid reservoir under the hood.

2.) Check regularly, and fill levels if they are low (to ensure you can wipe off any pesky bug slime or debris).

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How to Check Washer Fluid on Youtube
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Source: Flickr/Carhoots

WRITTEN BY: carhoots

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