How to Properly Check Your Fluids

February 11, 2019

How to Properly Check Your Fluids

Part of keeping your vehicle in tiptop shape is to make sure you regularly check your fluid levels. In fact, monitoring of these levels is vital to the health of your car. It’s a great idea to read your owner’s manual. There should be diagrams of the engine there that will show you where to check all the important fluids. It’s a great way to get an idea of where the vital fluids can be found. You can also use the internet to pull up a similar picture that can help you.


Engine Oil
  1. You’ll find towards the front of the engine a cap marked “Oil.” Check your oil with the engine off. Remove the dipstick
  2. Wipe the oil off with a rag
  3. Put the dipstick back in
  4. Pull it out and get your reading
  5. There will be two marks on the dipstick – minimum and maximum – anything in-between means your oils good. Below the minimum and you need to add oil. In older vehicles it’s a good idea to check your oil every couple of weeks. In newer vehicles check monthly.
Transmission Oil

If you have an automatic transmission you will find a dipstick to check your fluid level. It’s usually found towards the back of the engine. There are different methods for checking transmission fluids, which can be found in the owner’s manual. For most vehicles they have to be running and the transmission needs to be in neutral or park. To get a true reading the transmission should be warmed up so take it for a short drive to bring it up to operating temperature. Checking the level follows the same steps as with checking the oil. Check annually.

Engine Coolant

You should never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You can be splashed by the hot coolant and suffer serious burns. The majority of cars have an overflow bottler with visible level markings. You should make sure your coolant is between these markings.

Power Steering Fluid

Your car uses oil to assist with the power steering. This fluid should be checked regularly. Often it is checked at the pump but sometimes the reservoir is separate and away from the pump.

Brake Fluid

Most of the newer cars allow you to check the brake fluid levels without ever having to remove the master cylinder cap. There marking on the side of the reservoir identifying the different levels. When you are removing the cover be careful none spills on the paint as it lifts paint quickly.

Windshield Washer Fluid

You’ll see the jug that contains the blue liquid that’s magical for keeping your windshield clean. Most of the reservoirs are visibly marked. However, in some of the newer vehicles the reservoir is buried making it hard to see. Just pull the top off and start filling – you can’t hurt anything if you it overfills. A funnel can make it much easier to fill your washer fluid and other fluids as well.