The Big 3: How To Check Your Car's Most Important Fluids

People can be pretty hard on their cars. Whether it's the long road trip, the numerous daily commutes, or simply years of use, it's likely that your car has seen some better days. Obviously, cars run smoother, safer and more Eco-friendly when they receive proper maintenance. And while people know the importance of auto repair, few people know that it's time to take their vehicle to the shop until it's too late.

To help you avoid an inconvenient and dangerous breakdown on the side of the road, here's how to check your car's most important fluids:


Your car's oil is what keeps the engine's metal parts from causing intense friction and overheating. Engine oil is necessary for proper lubrication and it's important to check it on a monthly basis or about every 3,000 miles.

To check your oil, you'll want to open your hood, find and pull out the dipstick (which typically has a black cap connected to a long, thin metal bar), and wipe it clean with a paper towel or rag. Now stick it back down into its original holder and pull it up again. Take note of the color of the oil. If it is light and amber colored, you might be good to go. But if it's black and gunky, it's time for an oil change.

In addition, if the engine light is flashing, or you notice unusually loud noises coming from under the hood, it's a good idea to get to a mechanic for some fresh oil.

Transmission Fluid

Whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission car, the transmission fluid is what allows your car to shift with ease. When this fluid is at a low level, or even burnt, your car may start slipping into different gears or get stuck in one gear altogether. To avoid this danger and hassle, check your transmission fluid by first warming up your car for 5-10 minutes.

Under the hood, find the transmission cap and use the dipstick attached to test the color the of the fluid. If it's red, then it's healthy and clean. If it's black, however, it's definitely time to change it out. This check should be done every 50,000 miles.

Engine Coolant / Antifreeze

Without coolant (also called antifreeze), your car can overheat in warmer weather and freeze up in the colder temperatures. To assess its current level, first make sure your car is not running or still hot. Then, find the radiator cap (usually black), remove it, and look for a horizontal line indicating the proper height of fluid. If it's low, replace the necessary antifreeze immediately to avoid a seized up engine. It is recommended to perform this check every 6 months.

There's a reason that mechanics are so revered: proper car maintenance can be intimidating. But when it comes to your car's basic fluids, you need to know how to check for warning signs. With the simple tips above, you don't need to be an auto expert; You can stay on top of your car's health and spot problems before it's too late.

To learn more, contact a company like Integrity Auto and Truck with any questions or concerns you have.