It’s essential to keep your car running efficiently without breakdowns and costly repair bills, and one of the easiest ways to ensure this is by checking the various fluids in your vehicle. You will keep your car in top condition, by lifting the hood and checking these essential fluid levels regularly. Regular maintenance can sometimes be a bit of a chore, but check these 5 key fluids periodically, and your car should remain in great shape.

Engine Oil

Remove the oil dipstick, and wipe it clean, then insert into the engine to obtain a clean reading within the normal range. If your engine is low on oil, add more, taking care not to add too much. Check the car’s maintenance and service manual for details. Check the colour and consistency of the oil too. If it’s looking brown or not smooth, it’s time for a full oil replacement. It’s advisable to check the engine oil monthly, with a full oil change usually around the 6 month mark, although many newer vehicles are designed to run for even longer before an oil change is needed.

Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates the moving parts of the transmission preventing wear and to keep the gears in your car running smoothly. With the car running you will find the dipstick under the hood near the front of the engine in a front-wheel drive vehicle and near the back of the engine in a rear-wheel drive car. It will probably have a label and a ring handle for easy access. Good transmission fluid should be red without any odour. If it’s turned brown with debris deposit, or is at a low level, it’s important to visit your vehicle maintenance garage for service and topping up.

Coolant or Antifreeze

During particularly cold weather spells, coolant protects your car engine from freezing. Antifreeze may evaporate out of the coolant system as it works to keep the engine cool, so will require topping up periodically. Always check the coolant levels when the car is cold, and if the level is low, add more mixture of the same brand if possible.  Check the levels against the information in your car’s service manual, or consult a vehicle maintenance garage. It’s advisable to have the car’s radiator flushed out and antifreeze replaced fully every 2-3 years.

Brake Fluid

Safety wise, the brake fluid is the most essential fluid in your vehicle that allows you to brake safely and smoothly. The fluid container is normally on the driver’s side of the vehicle and should be transparent so you can easily check the levels.  The fluid level of brake fluid wouldn’t normally drop very much, unless of course there is a leak in the braking system. Regardless, ensure that you do check the levels and replace the brake fluid if it’s turned to a brown colour.

Power Steering Fluid

The power steering fitted to your car is to make it easier and smoother to manoeuvre the vehicle. If the steering fluid runs low, this can affect the system performance, particularly if there is a leak present. You may experience unusual noises or heavy steering. There should be an easily accessible reservoir to enable you to check the fluid levels.

Topping up the car fluids

If you’re unsure how to top up the fluid levels yourself, be certain to ask for advice and help from a trained motor technician. Overfilling certain fluids can cause as much harm as adding too little fluid. During a full service of your vehicle at the garage, ask to make sure that these 5 important fluid levels are all checked.