Things You Need To Know About Automotive Fluids
March 25th, 2016
Your dad probably told you about checking basic automotive fluids a long time ago, but you’d be surprised how many people we see at JBC Tire Complete Auto Csre who have no idea about this fairly basic part of automotive maintenance. Monitoring the levels and condition of your car’s fluids can help you head off expensive auto repair bills down the line! Here’s a brief rundown of what you need to know:
- Motor oil: This one is by far the most important. The engine relies on motor oil for cooling and lubrication – without it, the engine would quickly overheat to the point where moving parts would fuse to each other and seize the engine. The oil dipstick is usually on the side or front of the engine and clearly marked “Engine Oil.” Pull the dipstick (car on level ground and engine off), wipe it on a clean rag, reinsert it and pull it again for an accurate reading. There will be marks on the dipstick to show proper oil level. Clean motor oil is honey colored and translucent; if your oil is darker but translucent, you’re in good shape for awhile. Oil that is the color of black coffee and has a sour or acidic smell should be changed soon.
- Transmission fluid: You should check automatic transmission fluid (ATF) with the car on level ground and engine idling in Park. The dipstick for ATF is located behind the engine – pull it out, wipe it on a clean rag, reinsert and check again. ATF should be magenta-colored with a slightly sweet smell to it. Darker ATF or ATF that smells burnt should be changed soon. NOTE: add carefully! You only need a pint at a time with ATF, and overfilling can cause damage.
- Coolant: Coolant is usually bright green with a sweet-ish smell, although some newer formulations are yellow or pink. Check coolant only when the engine is cool, and should come up to the filler neck of the radiator.
- Brake fluid: Brake fluid is in the master cylinder, bolted to the engine firewall. It’s slippery and slightly yellowish, and is generally held in two separate reservoirs for front and rear brakes. Add as needed, and be sure to keep it away from painted surfaces!
That’s most of what you need to know about automotive fluids…all these should be checked monthly, at least, as part of a routine auto maintenance calendar. Got any questions about automotive fluids? Make an appointment with us at JBC Tire Complete Auto Care!