Whether you will travel “over the mountain and through the woods,” or stay nearer home during the holidays, one thing you can do to keep your vehicle road-ready for shopping expeditions or family visits is to check and monitor fluid levels in your car.
Our technicians and mechanics at Desert Car Care McQueen in Gilbert always emphasize that maintenance and preventive car care are the best ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely for many years. Most people know to check some of the fluid levels in their cars, but if the idea of doing it yourself is intimidating, drive on by our shop on McQueen and Guadalupe roads in Gilbert and we’ll help you out.
These are the most crucial fluid levels to track in your vehicle, whether you do it yourself or ask our team to assist:
Engine oil. To check the oil levels, make sure the vehicle is parked on a level place and is turned off. For best readings, the vehicle’s engine should be cool. First, find the dip stick. If it’s not obvious which one it is, check your owner’s manual. Remove the stick, wipe clean with a rag or paper towel, then re-insert it for clean reading. The stick will have markings for minimum and maximum levels on it. Your levels should be somewhere in the middle. If your oil level is low, add enough to be above the minimum but do not overfill. If the level is sufficient, then examine the oil’s color. If it’s dirty, foamy or clumpy, then your oil is due for a change. We recommend following the guide in your owner’s manual for how frequently to change your oil.
Coolant. You will find the coolant in an overflow plastic container near the radiator. Again, your owner’s manual can point you in the right direction. If the fluid is below the minimum line, fill with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. In Arizona, we recommend 60 water to 40 antifreeze in the hot summer months. The radiator fluid is what keeps your engine from overheating. If you run low, you risk your engine overheating in traffic. This fluid you should check after the car has been recently driven.
Power steering fluid. This fluid keeps your car’s power steering working by keeping it lubricated, adding power to your ability to control the car’s wheels. The reservoir typically is on the passenger side in a small tank near the windshield’s base. Fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum levels. Most cars have opaque power steer fluid tanks, so also check the color to be sure it is fairly clear. Usually just adding fluid – and being careful to keep the area around the opening clean when pouring – will be sufficient. However, if the fluid does get dirty, have a mechanic replace it.
Brake fluid. Again, this fluid is typically in a clear tank that is marked with minimum and maximum lines. Fill if it’s low, but then have the system checked because that might be an indication that there is a leak or the brake pads may be wearing.
Windshield washer fluid. Keep it full. It’s important to keep your windshield clean, esp. when there is sun glare. When you fill, also take a minute to examine your wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition. In Arizona, where we get limited rainfall most of the year, drivers sometimes forget to take care of their wiper blades. Our extreme heat can damage the rubber blades. Replacing them every year is a good precaution.