There are many features in a vehicle that some car owners take for granted. Your ability to turn smoothly without much force on the wheel. The way your brakes react so quickly when you slam your foot down on the pedal in an emergency. The smooth way your car shifts gears and allows you to continue to accelerate without abrupt stops or interference. All of these features are brought to homeowners through specialty pieces of equipment in your car. But just like your engine needs oil to stay lubricated and function properly, these pieces of equipment require their individual car fluids to ensure they operate at peak performance. But what does that mean for you as a vehicle owner? Which engine parts need car fluids, and which operate on something else entirely? You may not even know if you need to change these different car fluids, or just top them off.
What are My Different Car Fluids?
This can be a confusing thought for people not mechanically inclined. Most vehicle owners know to have their oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles of use. Obviously this varies depending on the make and model of your car. You may have found yourself wondering “What fluids are in my car?” or “What color are the fluids in my car?” If you ever get a fluid leak in Schaumburg, IL, you’ll want to be able to figure out what you’re looking at. Knowing what color every liquid that can leak from your vehicle can help you diagnose the source of a leak quickly, potentially helping you minimize the damage to engine. Knowing the differences of car oil vs transmission fluid can save you money on diagnostics at the mechanic.
- Light to Dark Brown This is engine oil. In terms of car fluids, this is the life-blood of your engine. It lubricates all of the moving pieces of your engine, and keeps it from degrading quickly. If your vehicle runs out of oil, or leaks too much of it, your engine can break down faster, and you can cause irreparable damage to one of the most expensive components in your car. The color of your oil changes based on time. The closer it is to your last oil change, the lighter the color of brown. The darker it gets, the closer you are to needing an oil change. If it contains sludge, it is supposed to. Most modern oils are made to keep contaminants in the oil itself, not dispersed through the engine. However, it can only do this for so long. That’s why you should pay attention to your driving patterns and owners manual to know when to get an oil change.
- Pink, Red, or Brown If you have a leak, and the fluid is one of these colors with a thick and oily consistency, then you most likely have a transmission fluid leak. The output shaft seal and axle seal are the common culprits in a transmission fluid leak. Transmission fluid is to your transmission what engine oil is to your engine. It lubricates the moving parts in your transmission to prevent damage and degradation of a very expensive part of your vehicle. It also serves as to cool the transmission during extensive periods of use. If you have an automatic transmission, it also helps transfer power from the engine to the transmission.
- Dark Red or Reddish Brown This is most likely power steering fluid. It has a thinner consistency than engine oil or transmission fluid. Essentially a pump pressurizes this fluid to help create hydraulic power to assist you in turning your vehicle. Without this, making hard turns would take much more force on the wheel. If you see this fluid, chances are you have a leak in the rack end seals for the rack and pinion power steering mechanism.
- Pale Amber If it’s in your car and looks like cooking oil, chances are it’s brake fluid. The type of brake fluid in your car varies depending on the braking system. Anti-lock brake systems use glycol-based fluids, while non-ABS systems use silicone based fluids. Brake fluid essentially creates hydraulic pressure in your brake system. It assists your brake rotors to clamp down harder, helping you to brake faster and more effectively. If this leaks it could be a few things, including the brake caliper seals or your flex lines.
- Bright Yellow or Green If you need to determine what that neon fluid is in your vehicle, it’s probably coolant or antifreeze. These could come from a number of places, including your car’s head gasket, freeze plugs, radiator, and others. These keep your car engine from overheating or freezing up. Moving components always run the risk of succumbing to the elements, and the addition of the proper amount of coolant and antifreeze to your car fluids can be the difference between a safe commute to work or a trip to the mechanic.
Maintenance for Car Fluids
Now that you can better determine which car fluids do what, you have to know proper maintenance. Just like oil, your vehicle will eventually need each individual system topped off, flushed, or completely drained and refilled with new fluid.
How do you know if your car is leaking fluid? If you ever look down and notice a pool of fluids underneath your vehicle, there is a good chance you have a leak. This is the most obvious way to determine a leak. Since the engine and other parts aren’t sealed, fluids leaking out of your engine will inevitably end up on the ground where you park. Pay attention to the color and consistency of the car fluids to determine the type of fluid leak, which will help determine the potential point of origin. If you find your car leaking fluid and overheating, there is a good chance you have a fluid leak and should seek repairs immediately to avoid permanent engine damage.
When should you change car fluids? Letting your car fluids go without inspection for too long could require you to need a Sugar Hill, GA auto repair center. This varies depending on the vehicle, the usage, and the system. Transmission fluid requires a complete flush and replacement somewhere between 30,000 miles and 100,000 miles. Some vehicles state you will never need to service this fluid. At the same time, your power steering fluid should be topped off when it seems to be running low. A good indicator is the ease of your turns while driving. If turning becomes more difficult, you could need more power steering fluid.
What fluids should be flushed in a car? You can feasibly do this to all of your car fluids. Whether or not they require this is a completely different story. While old engine oil is drained away and replaced, a flush of the system can help remove gunk in the system itself. There is no method for car fluid cleaning, but a flush is a way to remove building up in car fluid systems of your vehicle. But how much does it cost to get all your fluids changed? Each of your car fluids will cost a different amount. A system flush will run from 80 dollars to 250 dollars. Throw in the cost of the replacement fluid and it can be more expensive. That’s why you should always do your research before committing to a complete system flush.
Car fluid bubbles could be indicative of an air leak in one of your car fluid systems, which can cause problems further down the road, and be potentially hazardous on the road. Any car fluid leaks could become serious problems further down the line. If one of your systems is leaking fluid on to other parts of your engine, you run the risk of a malfunction, and further problems. Now that you can better determine what your car fluids look like and what they do for your vehicle you’re better prepared in the event of a leak. If you’re in Schaumburg, IL and have a question about car fluids or need a car fluid leak repaired, contact Express Auto Repair & Emissions at 847-895-9131, and we’ll help get your vehicle back in peak operating condition.