Ever seen the cars parked on the side of road with the bonnet up when we have one day of hot weather? It’s like a kids game you can play to see how many cars have broken down on the trip home.
This may be funny when you’re sitting inside an air-conditioned car driving home, but it can happen to any one of us. It’s so easily preventable and will only take a small amount of time to check your car’s fluids. Now is a great time to do it, before the extreme heat of summer kicks in and before the long-haul drive for your Christmas holiday.
So to help, I’m going to run you through how to check your car’s fluids and to top them up if required. We’ll look at:
- window washer
- brake fluid
- transmission fluid
- power steering fluid
Here, you’re looking at a Holden Commodore. Not all vehicles will look like this under the bonnet, and the positioning of where you will find your fluid points will change from car to car. However, the process of filling them is the same. Always check your car manual to know where they are located in your car.
If you have your car serviced regularly (ie every 10,000km), the mechanic will check and top these up during the service. However, it’s a good idea to know how to check the fluids of your car, especially if it’s an older vehicle. I’d recommend checking the fluid levels every month for an older car, and every few months for a newer car. And of course, take your vehicle straight to a mechanic if you notice any issues such as pools of fluid under the car.
So let’s get started. Some of the fluids you will need are coolant or distilled water, engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power-steering fluid.
This is where you’ll find your coolant reservoir (where to check the level of your coolant for your radiator). It’s easy to check, just take the cap off and see if the water level is near the top. In some cases, like mine, it will have a stick that shows the level for you.
If it’s a little low, top up with distilled water or radiator fluid (please make sure that you check with your mechanic to see which one they’ve used). If in doubt, use distilled water. If you buy the coolant as a concentrate, make sure you dilute it with distilled water only, not tap water. Tap water has impurities in it and can cause problems.
Note: Some vehicles don’t have a radiator cap, so to check the fluid you will need to check your overflow bottle. This is also where you top up your radiator fluid if required. Check your vehicle’s manual for location and instructions.
Lack of coolant is the biggest factor for cars over heating during summer, so keep an eye on it.
This is one we all use regularly but forget to fill; and when we go to use it there’s no water…
Most vehicles these days have front and back wipers. The below photo shows you what symbol you’re looking for to fill up the window washer reservoir. I like to mix in a little dish-washing detergent (bio-degradable) to the water. I find this helps with the removal of bugs, especially in spring. If it’s completely empty it will normally take around 2 litres of water (only add a few ml of dishwashing liquid to the 2 litres) depending on your vehicle.
This is so important, just like your radiator this needs to be checked regularly. When checking the levels of oil, remove the stick and wipe the oil off and replace back in. Do this twice to ensure that you get an accurate measure of the level of oil (Note: the engine needs to be off and cool).
The below picture shows you where to check the level. **Please do not fill from this point**
Just on the other side of the engine (shown below) you should find the point to fill from. Look for a similar symbol. Please do not over fill.
We all know that we have brakes and that they are located and housed with our tyres, however, you do need to check and ensure that the brake fluid is filled. This helps the brakes to function correctly. No fluid, no brakes – that’s the sum of it. This is also located under the bonnet, normally towards the back.
Transmission Fluid (Automatic Only)
Okay, so this one is checked slightly different to other fluids. You will need to have the car running when you check your transmission fluid; this is so that you have correct reading of the levels. Important: this is the ONLY time you should have your car running when you are checking any fluids.
NB: Manual transmissions do not have a point to check, this needs to be checked by a mechanic only.
The power steering fluid is probably one you didn’t even know you had or needed to check. It’s what assists with making it easy to turn your steering wheel. Check the level and top up as necessary. Remember, as I’ve stated above, if you get your car regularly serviced then it’s usually checked during the service.
Okay so this caps off (funny pun) sorry, what you need to check and how to top up your car fluids. Don’t forget to check your car’s manual on where to locate your check points.
Hope this has helped you…………….
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