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How To Check When Car Fluids Need To Be Changed

car engine fluidsVehicles require consistent maintenance to remain up and running. While a lot of this maintenance is best left to professional technicians, there is quite a bit you can do on your own. A simple thing you can do to be confident your car will not let you down is checking and replacing fluids as necessary. From keeping the engine from getting too hot, to ensuring your brakes perform as needed, fluids keep your car running smoothly. Here are the main fluids to keep an eye on.

Engine Oil

Engine oil is arguably the most important fluid inside your vehicle outside of gasoline. It lubricates components to allow them to move freely and comfortably. You can check the engine oil level of your car by inspecting the dipstick located in the engine bay. Make sure you check after your car has been turned off for at least 10 minutes.

When you first pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth. Next, reinsert the dipstick and pull it back out. This will show you what the current status of the oil is like. There are maximum and minimum markers on the stick, and the oil should ideally be at the maximum. If it is near the minimum, then you need to refill the oil immediately. You also want to be aware of the condition of the oil. It should be amber or yellow in appearance. If it starts looking black or milky, then you need to replace it.


An engine that overheats can seriously damage critical interior components that can be extensive and expensive to repair. Therefore, you always want to make sure you have enough coolant, otherwise known as antifreeze, in your vehicle. You can see what the coolant levels are by inspecting your car’s radiator. Remove the radiator cap after your vehicle has been turned off for a while. Refill if the level is looking low. As a rule of thumb, you should inspect coolant levels twice annually. However, you should only need to replace it once every two or three years.

Power Steering Fluid

You enjoy a smooth, pleasant driving experience in part thanks to power steering fluid. This substance allows you to properly control your steering wheel. Without sufficient levels, you may begin to hear creaking sounds coming from the wheel every time you use it. You can see what levels you are currently at by opening the hood and checking the reservoir. You should inspect it once every 50,000 miles, but most drivers will find they will never have to replace it throughout the lifespan of the car. You may simply need to top it off once in a while.

Brake Fluid

Similar to power steering fluid, you should never have to replace brake fluid, because it is part of a closed system. However, you should still get it checked every time you get an oil change to make sure you have sufficient quantities. You also want to ensure the brake fluid you currently have is not contaminated by any water. In the event water has gotten into the system, then you will want an automotive technician to look at the brake lines, because they may have begun accumulating rust.

You also need to get levels checked and inspected if your braking ever feels off for any reason. Braking problems can be a result of any number of issues, but most technicians will inspect the fluid first, because it is the easiest to address.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Unlike the other fluids in this list, windshield washer fluid does not have any impact on your car’s actual performance. However, you still want to check levels regularly because it is an important safely measure. Fortunately, it is the easiest fluid on this list to acquire and utilize. You can buy jugs of windshield washer fluid at most department stores and is generally very affordable. You can find the reservoir underneath the hood, and you can fill it up until it is full.

Do not neglect to refill essential fluids in your car. All of these are extremely easy to address, and failure to maintain fluid levels can result in much more severe problems down the line. Take your vehicle to Sun Auto Service regularly to make sure everything is working as it should. We offer fluid replacement as part of routine maintenance, so schedule your appointment today.