6 Essential Car Fluids and How to Check Them

Service Technician changing the oil on a vehicle

Regular service for your internal combustion engine is vital to getting the most out of your new or used vehicle. As such, we have a dedicated team to help your vehicle run in top condition for as long as you own your car, truck, or SUV.

One essential component to maintaining your internal combustion vehicle is the fluids needed to maintain optimal performance. You need to inspect and replace essential car fluids when your owner’s manual calls for it, or if you see something amiss, to keep your car in great shape for your Scottsdale commutes or that family road trip in the summer.

But, before you schedule a service appointment to have things like your brake fluid or windshield wiper fluid replaced, are you wondering when to check your car fluids? Learn when and how to check essential fluids in your car with the experts at iAUTOHAUS!

What Are the Essential Car Fluids You Need to Check?

While there are many important fluids in your vehicle, here are the six most important ones you should keep an eye on regularly:

  • Engine oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield wiper fluid

We’ll go over each fluid individually to show you how to keep your car in great shape!

When and How to Check Essential Fluids in Your Car

When you need to replace these six essential fluids depends on your make, model, year, and mileage. We recommend referencing your owner’s manual or driver information screen for more details on when to check your car’s fluids and the exact service intervals based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Your manual will also teach you how to check essential car fluids. To be better prepared, feel free to explore our comprehensive guide on when and how to check essential fluids in your car.

Engine Oil

If gasoline is the food for your internal combustion engine to make it go, engine oil represents the blood that keeps things moving smoothly. Oil changes are arguably one of the most important maintenance items for your internal combustion vehicle. Engine oil lubricates the moving parts in your vehicle, namely the pistons that turn the transmission (which, in turn, provides power for the wheels to turn).

Having robust, fresh engine oil ensures your engine doesn’t let you down on your Chandler travels. In most vehicles, engine oil should be replaced around every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, depending on your driving habits and driving conditions. Modern vehicles highly recommend full synthetic oil changes. Even though they are more expensive when you pay for them, full synthetic oil lasts longer and means fewer trips to our service center for oil changes.

Oil also breaks down over time and becomes dark and dirty. That’s normal. Even when you’re not driving very much, expect to change your oil about once every six months or up to a year. To check the oil in your vehicle, you’ll often find a dipstick underneath the hood that can let you inspect your oil level, consistency, and color. We recommend checking the oil once a month.

Brake Fluid

Brakes are an essential safety feature in your vehicle. You need plenty of braking power when you’re driving around Tempe. Brake fluid is responsible for the easy movement of the many parts of your braking system. This fluid can collect debris and break down over time. Brake fluid allows the calipers and brake pistons to operate efficiently to stop your car as you expect.

Plan on replacing the brake fluid every 30,000 miles or two years. Most vehicles have a clear brake fluid reservoir underneath the hood. The reservoir has an indicator that tells you the brake fluid level. You can even look at the brake fluid level without even having to remove the cap on the reservoir. Check your brake fluid every three months or if your brakes start to have issues.

Engine Coolant

Your engine produces a great amount of heat as you’re driving. The cooling system in your engine typically utilizes engine coolant to help keep things at optimal operating temperature while preventing your engine from overheating. The general rule of thumb is to replace engine coolant every 50,000 miles to make sure your radiator works properly. You’ll want to check your coolant at regular intervals as it makes sure your engine temperatures stay at the optimal level.

Check your engine coolant by locating the coolant reservoir underneath the hood. Do not check your coolant if your engine is hot and has just been running because you could end up burning yourself. Sometimes, the coolant reservoir is labeled so you can easily identify if you’re low on coolant without removing the reservoir cap. Check your coolant level every month or so as well as before embarking on a long trip. If the level seems low, follow instructions on how to fill it up all the way.

Transmission Fluid

Your transmission provides power to the wheels. Transmission fluid is vital for ensuring your transmission and the gears inside stay cooled and properly lubricated so you don’t run into any issues such as friction or sticking gears. Dirty or broken down transmission fluid can often cause shift delays and even grinding noises. Transmissions are very expensive to replace, so you’ll want to change transmission fluid when recommended.

To avoid issues, consider replacing transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on your exact model. Inspect your transmission fluid with a dipstick underneath the hood, much like checking your engine oil. Unlike engine oil, transmission fluid is often a red color. Note that some transmissions are sealed and can only be checked by a service technician with the proper tools. Old transmission fluid will be dark, dirty, and not very thick. We recommend checking the transmission fluid once a season.

Power Steering Fluid

Your power steering system can be an overlooked component of your vehicle. It provides steering assistance so that you’re not struggling to move the steering wheel or make it feel like you need to become a powerlifter just to turn the wheels. Power steering makes turning your wheels a lot easier.

As with many other components, your power steering system typically utilizes a type of thick fluid to assist with its smooth operation. There technically isn’t a recommended service interval for power steering fluid. However, if your power steering system regularly needs to be serviced or replaced, it may be a good idea to inspect your power steering fluid. There might be something else amiss. Check the power steering fluid once every six months to make sure it looks okay.

Windshield Wiper Fluid

You might not need windshield wiper fluid for your vehicle to run properly. But windshield wiper fluid can help you safely see the road in front of you by giving an assist with clearing your windshield for better visibility. We recommend replacing the windshield wiper fluid as needed. For example, when you try to spray washer fluid on your windshield and nothing comes out, it likely means you need to add more to your washer fluid reservoir, found under the hood.

There’s usually a reservoir with a windshield washer symbol and you can inspect the fluid by peeking into the reservoir. We recommend checking it before and after winter because some types of wiper fluid can help keep your windshield free from the ice when driving in winter weather, such as when you head to the mountains for skiing.

Maintain Your Essential Car Fluids at iAUTOHAUS!

Whatever fluid you need to replace or maintain, the experts at iAUTOHAUS near Phoenix can assist you with your regular car maintenance schedule. We can also teach you how to check essential fluids in your car. Schedule service with us when you’re ready to have your luxury vehicle maintained at its regular interval or have an auto repair that needs attention.

When you bring your vehicle in for service, we’ll check all the essential car fluids to keep your vehicle running in excellent condition. If you have any questions about auto maintenance, please don’t hesitate to contact us or call 480-317-0783. We’re happy to help in any way we can! And don’t forget to check out our service specials to save money on your next vehicle maintenance and our parts center if you want to perform DIY vehicle maintenance!


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