Your car is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Learning how to check your car’s fluid levels is important. Getting into the habit of checking them can avoid mechanical damage, breakdowns, and even possible accidents. But don’t worry. It’s actually easier than you think.
How to Check Oil Level:
- Allow your engine to cool for at least an hour. This allows to drain into its galleys, etc. and keeps you from getting a false reading.
- Use the owner’s manual to locate the dipstick.
- Use a rag or paper towel to wipe the dipstick clean. This will ensure a clear reading.
- Insert the dipstick all the way back into its opening and pull it all the way out.
- Compare the markings on the dipstick to the owner’s manual.
- If the oil is low, add appropriate motor oil before driving your car again. Refer to the owner’s manual to find out what that is.
- If the oil is not clear, your car needs an oil change.
How to Check Brake Fluid Level:
- Consult your owner’s manual or look around for a reservoir like this one.
- If your car’s brake fluid reservoir is like this one, you can see the levels from the outside. As you can see this car needs brake fluid.
- Cars should not consume brake fluid. However, it does evaporate slowly depending on how much you brake. In the case of this car, fluid has not been added in over 5 years, so it’s due. Normally, this is a sign of trouble, and you should have your brakes or brake lines checked.
How to Check Engine Coolant or Antifreeze Level:
- Use your owner’s manual to locate the radiator.
- Be sure the engine has cooled down before you open the cap, or you could be sprayed with scalding water.
- If you can see the cooling fins, it needs more coolant.
- Bear in mind cars are made to use antifreeze as coolant.
How to Check Windshield Wiper Fluid Level:
- Once again you’ll be using a dipstick to check for fluid levels.
- Pull the dipstick out all the way out and check the markings. You don’t need to wipe it clean or reinsert it.
- If the fluids are low, add more.
How to Check Power Steering Fluid Level:
- The power steering fluid reservoir is marked on the outside, making it easy to check if it’s low.
- Add more fluid if needed.
- If you hear a whining sound when you turn your steering wheel, it’s an indication of low levels.
How to Check Transmission Fluid Levels in Your Car:
- This is done with the engine running and fully warmed up. Refer to the owner’s manual to know if it should be in park or neutral.
- As with the oil, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and reinsert it all the way.
- Transmission oil does not need to be changed as often as the engine oil, but it may need to be changed every 100,000 miles or so. Check the owner’s manual to be sure.
- Transmission oil is reddish. If yours is brown, black, or looks burnt, consider having it changed.