Although all cars are similar in that they require the same types of fluids to run, what specifically they need differs from one make to the next. The same principle holds true for air pressure in the car’s tires. For these reasons, it is best to consult the car’s owner’s manual to obtain the types of fluids required as well as the frequency with which they should be replaced.
Motor oil to a car is like blood to the body. This essential ingredient runs throughout the car’s system to keep parts lubricated and moving properly. It also reduces friction between parts and thus reduces wear and tear on auto parts. Friction and heat cause motor oil to degrade so it is important to replace it. Standard motor oil should be replaced every 3,000 miles whereas synthetic oils can last up to 5,000 miles before needing replacement.
Transmission fluid is a liquid lubricant used to lubricate all the moving parts within a transmission. The type of fluid required depends on whether the car is automatic or manually driven. It is generally recommended that transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. It is best to consult the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is used to prevent damage to the car due to extreme temperatures. It keeps the water in the car’s cooling system from freezing in winter months by reducing the water’s temperature and keeps the same water from boiling during summer months. It also behaves as a lubricant between the moving parts with which it comes in contact. It is suggested coolant be replaced every 30,000 to 60,000 miles with the milage depending on the car manufacturer.
Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid used to transfer force into pressure. This means when a driver applies force on the brake pedal, the fluid moves that force into pressure on the rotors and brake pads which slows the car down. The brake fluid should be replaced every 2 to 3 years or every 24,000 to 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Brake fluid is housed in a translucent reservoir to make monitoring the level easier.
Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid allows easy maneuverability of the steering wheel. The reservoir will have a cap labeled Steering and includes a dipstick which is wiped clean and then re-inserted to find the current level of fluid. Always check the steering fluid level when the car has not been running and is cool. This fluid should be replaced every 75,000 to 100,000 miles.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Under your car’s hood look for a cap with a windshield or water icon to locate the wiper fluid reservoir. This fluid can be topped-off regularly so to always be available to clean your windshield.
This fluid is designed to compensate for the differing distances your inner and outer wheels must travel when making turns. It is also called “gear oil” and requires replacement every 25,000 to 30,000 miles.
Understanding how and why checking car fluids is important can help keep your car in good running condition. Checking a replacing your car’s fluids takes little time and rudimentary knowledge but if you are not interested in doing the work it is important to use the services of a mechanic. Your car’s fluids are essential to the health of you car.
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