CHECKING YOUR VEHICLE FLUIDS
by Jim Miller
The following list is a recommended vehicle inspection that should be done on a routine basis, perhaps at each oil change interval. You should refer to your owners manual for the proper fluid types and recommended service intervals.
ENGINE OIL LEVEL AND CONDITION
Inspect the oil level and condition. If it appears black it should be changed. It is recommended the engine oil and oil filter be changed every 3,000 miles.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID
Inspect the transmission fluid level and condition. Usually this is done with the engine running at operating temperature, with the transmission in park. Automatic transmision fluid should be red. If the transmission fluid appears brown or has a burnt odor to it, the transmission may require service.
ENGINE COOLANT (Anti-freeze)
Check the coolant level with the engine cold. An inexpensive tester is available at most auto parts stores that will check the level of protection. Most manufactures recommend a 50/50% water and antifreeze mixture. This will protect the engine in temperatures from -30F – +260F.
BRAKE FLUID LEVEL AND CONDITION
Inspect the brake fluid and add as necessary. You should inspect the brakes if the brake fluid level is at the bottom of its operating level. Low brake fluid is the sign of worn brake pads. When the brake pads wear, the pistons in the caliper will extend and will require more brake fluid to reside in the caliper chambers.
WASHER FLUID LEVEL
Inspect the fluid level and add as necessary.
POWER STEERING FLUID LEVEL
Inspect the fluid level, add as necessary. If more than a few ounces are necessary to bring the system to the proper level, an inspection the hoses and fittings for leaks should be performed.
CLUTCH MASTER CYLINDER (If Equipped)
Inspect the fluid level in the clutch master cylinder. Low fluid level could indicate a possible leak.
MANUAL TRANSMISSION FLUID (If Equipped)
Inspecting the fluid level of the manual transmission usually requires jacking or hoisting the vehicle. The plug to access the fluid level is usually mounted on the side of the transmission. Consult your owners manual for location and fluid type.
DIFFERENTIAL FLUID (If Equipped)
Inpsecting the fluid level of the differential usually requires jacking or hoisting the vehicle. The plug to access the fluid level is usually mounted on the side of the differential. Consult your owners manual for location and fluid type.
TRANSFER CASE (Four Wheel Drive Vehicles)
Inspecting the fluid level of the transfer case usually requires jacking or hoisting the vehicle. The plug to access the fluid level is usually mounted on the side of the transfer case. Consult your owners manual for location and fluid type.
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