Understanding Your Car’s Different Fluids Posted on Mar 28 2017

There are several different types of fluids that are used in your car for lubrication and hydraulics. It’s important to understand what each fluid does and how to detect if there are problems. If you have a leak, you can understand what type of fluid it might be simply based on color or location. You can also check certain fluid levels regularly as part of routine maintenance. Lastly, you’ll want to know what color/consistency a particular fluid is supposed to be in order to determine if it looks bad.

1. Oil

This is the most important fluid in your car because it keeps engine parts lubricated. Use your dipstick to measure the current oil level. It should also be a light brown in color. If it comes up very thick or dark brown/black in color, then there could be a problem worth having checked out. You may just need a routine oil change.

2. Radiator Fluid (Coolant)

Your radiator contains this fluid to keep your car from overheating. Be careful not to remove the radiator cap when the car is hot or still running. It’s smart to use a rag or towel to keep from burning yourself. The fluid level should be at the top of the radiator. If not, you should add more. Coolant/antifreeze is typically bright green/yellow in color.

3. Brake Fluid

New brake fluid usually has a light brown/yellowish tint. It adds power to your brakes and is very important to making sure your car stops as it should. The brake fluid reservoir is typically located near the back of the engine compartment and you want to make sure the fluid level is always near the top.

4. Transmission Fluid

Many people don’t realize there are more than one dipsticks in your engine compartment. One is to measure the transmission fluid, which lubricates the vital transmission components. Good transmission fluid will be pink or red in color and should be very viscous to the touch. If it is thick and/or dark, you could have problems.

5. Power Steering Fluid

If your car has power steering (most do, unless it’s a much older vehicle), the power steering fluid will help make steering much smoother. There is a reservoir and dipstick that you can check to make sure the fluid level is good and the fluid is of proper viscosity. It is also red, pink or even clear in color. Anything dark is a sign of concern.

6. Air Conditioning Coolant

Also known as refrigerant or Freon, the air conditioning coolant is vital to pumping cold air through your car’s A/C unit. Checking and replacing air conditioning coolant is more complicated and can be dangerous. It is best left to professionals. Air conditioning coolant is usually very bright in color, so leaks are easy to detect.

7. Windshield Washer Fluid

Obviously, this is the least important fluid in your car, but it sure helps to clean your windshield for improved visibility. It is light blue in color and the reservoir is easy to find and refill as needed. Check it regularly to make sure you always have plenty available.

If you find a fluid leak underneath your car or one of your fluids appears unusually dark or burnt, bring it into Bill’s Quality Auto Care in Simi Valley. We’ll inspect the problem and take care of any fluid leaks, flushes or refills that need to happen. It’s important to take care of your car’s fluids because they really are the lifeblood of your vehicle. Call us today at (805) 520-7818 to schedule a service appointment or to ask any question you have about automotive fluids.

Schedule your appointment online!