Checking fluids under the hood – Car Care IQ

Checking fluids under the hood – Car Care IQ
Checking fluids under the hood takes you a pace deeper in your car experience. There are respective different fluids that your car has and I ’ ll go over them here. I ’ ll besides cover broadly how to find them and what they look like .

All cars will have brake fluid. If your cable car has a flatulence locomotive there will be locomotive vegetable oil, and coolant ( or antifreze ). Some fully electric vehicles have coolant angstrom well to keep the motive ( not engine ) and electronics from overheating .

If your fomite has power steering you will have baron steering fluid. Vehicles with automatic transmissions will have ATF ( automatic infection fluent ). Some manual transmittance vehicles will have a hydraulic clutch which uses bracken fluid .

Cost : Most fluids are about $ 3-6/quart .

Brake Fluid

The bracken chief cylinder on most vehicles is on the engine side of the firewall. It will be on the firewall right in front of the driver. The brake passkey cylinder has a reservoir connected to it. Most of the clock time the reservoir is mounted immediately on the master cylinder but sometimes it is outside .

There normally is a place of Min and Max marks on the reservoir. Make sure that the brake fluid level is in between the Min and Max marks .

If the brake fluid is close to the Min mark this can indicate a couple of things. If you haven ’ metric ton noticed any braking performance reduction then it credibly just means that the brakes are getting humble. As the brakes wear the calipers require more fluid. This shows up in the reservoir as a lower fluid degree .

You may want to check to verify that your brakes have an adequate total of material on them so that you can remain safe .

WARNING!!!WARNING: If your brake fluid is low DO NOT just add fluid. This can end up being a costly mistake. At best you could go metal to metal on your brakes. This is costly in that you will have to replace your brake pads as well as brake rotors. This can double the price of a brake job. At worst, if your brakes are under spec then you could be creating a situation where you won’t be able to safely stop. The cost of an accident can’t be estimated.

Engine Oil

Engine petroleum typically has a dipstick that it registers on. You will need to check this when the engine has been off for at least 10 minutes. Check this on level flat coat so that the read is accurate .

Make sure that the oil reads between the low and high marks. These marks normally denote a one quart dispute. Read my Preventative Engine Maintenance 101 for an in-depth explanation on how to check your engine oil .


Most vehicles that utilize coolant will have an overflow bottle that is marked with H ( high ) and L ( gloomy ). Some coolant overflow bottles will be labeled that they contain coolant, and some aren ’ thymine labeled .

coolant expands and contracts based on how hot it is. If your fomite is blistering from just being driven the overflow bottle may read higher than when it ’ mho cold from sitting nightlong .

I recommend checking it when it ’ mho cold. If it ’ mho low I top it off to the H or High mark or make a note of where it ’ second at. You could take a photograph with your telephone or take a pencil and score the bottle. then a few days or a week late, check it again when it ’ s cold to see if the charge has changed. If anything it might go down .

If the coolant is going down systematically, you should start to look for a leak under the fomite .

Coolant comes in many different colors. Green/yellow, pink, orange, red, blue, and purple. Some coolant colors can be mix and others can not. You will need to check your owners manual to verify what coolant your vehicle takes .

Checking this fluid can help prevent your vehicle from overheating in the summer. besides it can prevent your vehicle from not heating up adequate in the winter .

WARNING: Don’t confuse the overflow bottle cap with the radiator cap. Never open the radiator cap when the vehicle has been driven recently. If you do you will be on the receiving end of a scalding. The fluid in the radiator typically runs about 180-200 degrees and is under pressure. If your engine is overheating that temperature could be even more.

Power Steering Fluid

Vehicles with might steering ( PS ) will have a power steering heart and reservoir. The exponent steering pump will be driven by one of the drive belts or the serpentine belt out .

In some vehicles the might steering reservoir is mounted on the pump. In other vehicles it is mounted remotely on the fender. If it is mounted remotly it will have a couple of hoses connecting the two .

The cap on the world power steering reservoir should have a brusque dipstick built into it. Some vehicles besides have a translucent reservoir with markings on the outside. They may have a scratch for “ cold low ” and “ cold high ” equally well as a “ hot abject ” and “ hot high ” stigmatize. If the fomite is cold the level should be between the “ cold ” marks. If the fomite has been driven recently the horizontal surface should be between the “ hot ” marks .

Some vehicles with might steering use power steering fluid. Others use automatic pistol infection fluid. Check the hat of the power steering reservoir or your owners manual to see which your fomite uses .

If you need to add some precisely add a little. Most power steering reservoirs entirely hold 1-2 cups, so adding a tablespoon or two will make a big dispute in this under hood maintenance. Add some fluid when the engine is off. Replace the lid and then turn the engine on and cycle the steering bicycle from far left to far right. Turn off the engine and recheck the fluid. Repeat as necessity .

WARNING: Don’t leave the cap off when you are cycling the steering wheel. The pressure of the return fluid will blow fluid all over your engine bay. This won’t only make a mess, but also make it so that you will be lower on fluid than you were.

These following two are an either or for your car. You may have a manual transmission with a clutch or an automatic pistol transmission. The exception would be if you have a manual transmission with a mechanical linkage clutch. This doesn ’ thyroxine happen much anymore, but there are vehicles out there with this shape .

Clutch Fluid

If your vehicle has a manual transmittance and an hydraulic clutch you ’ ll expect on the leftover side of the brake master cylinder .

note of clearing on directions. It is coarse for mechanics to reference left and correct when talking about where something is on a fomite. Left refers to the leave side of the car as if you are sitting in the drivers seat and right is the opposite side. In America the driver sits on the leave side of the car and in England the driver sits on the correct side of the car .

sol good left of the brake master cylinder will be a exchangeable looking, but smaller cylinder with a reservoir attached. This is called the clutch headmaster cylinder .

There normally is a dress of Min and Max marks on the reservoir. Make surely that the fluid level is in between the Min and Max marks. The seize normally takes the same fluid as the brakes. The difference here is that if it is gloomy you will want to add some to get it back to the Max stigmatize .

besides, if it is humble, you will want to start looking for the leak. It could be under the dash or under the fomite if it isn ’ thyroxine right there at the seize master cylinder .

Automatic Transmission Fluid

If your car is equipped with an automatic pistol transmittance then you will want to check the fluid floor and condition. automatic transmissions are super building complex and I won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate go into all the details of how they work here. This is the most complex fluid check you wil do besides the check oil .

Most vehicles with an automatic transmittance will have a transmission dipstick. Some late exemplar vehicles don ’ t have a transmission dipsitck or any direction to check the transmission fluid degree. Check your owners manual to verify if your car has one and where to find it .

Make sure that you ’ re on level ground so that the dipstick reads accurately. The dipstick will have a hot compass and a cold range for measuring the fluid flat. If the fomite hasn ’ thyroxine been driven then it should read in the cold range. If the vehicle has been driven and is to full operate temperature the the fluid tied should read in the hot image.

Simple How-to check ATF:

  1. Open the hood and find the dipstick.
  2. Once you find the dipstick you will want to start the vehicle and run it through all the gears. Don’t move the vehicle, just make sure that the transmission is shifted into all of the different shift lever positions.
  3. Put the transmission back in Park and leave the engine running.
  4. Pull the dipstick and wipe it off.
  5. Reinsert it fully and then pull it again, but don’t wipe it off this time.
  6. Look at the fluid level on the end of the dipstick.
  7. Verify that the level is in the appropriate range (cold if it hasn’t been driven or isn’t up to operating temperature, hot if it has been driven and is up to full operating temperature).
  8. Look at the fluid to see if it is very dark or smells burnt. If this is the case it may be time to replace it.

If you are not certain when to check or change your fluids click below to download my Car Care & Maintenance PDF today .

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Category : Car Brakes