How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

There are a number of different fluids in your car, each with a way to check and fill as needed. As part of general maintenance, and especially when planning a road trip, check the oil (see here) and the transmission, coolant, brake, and window washing fluids. This is a great way to get familiar with what's under the hood, and is among the simplest and most satisfying ways to take your car's upkeep into your own hands.

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

MATERIALS:

• Coolant

• Windshield washer fluid

1 Pop the hood and prop it open. With the engine running, start by checking the transmission fluid—the cap is probably located behind the oil cap and a bit lower down. The transmission fluid should have a dipstick—pull out the dipstick, clean it, reinsert, remove, and check the fluid level. If the fluid level is low, that's a big problem—the transmission shouldn't leak. Head to your mechanic to find out what's going on.

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

2 Check the coolant. Make sure the engine is off and cool (not cold) before you touch the radiator. Check both the radiator cap (if your car uses a radiator) and the plastic coolant reservoir. If your car has a radiator, it's right behind the grill; the coolant reservoir should be to its side. Check that the coolant reaches the fill line on the coolant reservoir. If fluid is low, add coolant until it reaches the fill line.

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

3 Check the brake fluid. Consult your owner's manual to find the brake fluid reservoir, likely in the engine compartment. Make sure brake fluid fills the reservoir up to the fill line. It shouldn't be low—if it is, take the car to the shop.

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

4 Check the washer fluid. This is likely in a plastic reservoir near the dashboard. Again, ensure that fluid fills the reservoir to the fill line. If needed, top it off. Car fluids can look quite similar (think radioactive blue), so be careful not to pour washer fluid into the coolant reservoir and vice versa.

How to Check and Fill Fluids in Your Car

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