What are the 7 fluids in a car?

car fluid inspection

The different kinds of car fluids

Well that could be a surprise to a lot of folks!  Who knew there were 7 different car fluids?!  Even the most non-car person will know there is gas and oil, right? What other car fluids are there?  

For the person that isn’t mechanically inclined, it can be confusing and difficult to know which car fluids is which, what it looks like, and where it goes. Here we provide the following list with their general colors so that when you have car fluid leak, colors tell you which fluid is leaking. 

  • Motor Oil: Even for the least mechanical person, basic knowledge tells you that a motor needs lubricating. Low oil levels can be detrimental for your car, so keeping it checked is important. Motor oil is typically a dark brown to black in color, with the black being the worse of the two, meaning it is burnt or dirty.
  • Radiator Fluid: This fluid is found in the radiator and inside the engine. From your perspective, you can only see what is the in radiator, and this is what keeps your engine running without overheating. Radiator fluid is generally green in color and has a sweet like smell, there are newer types of radiator fluid that are red. 
  • Transmission Fluid: The transmission is an important part of what makes a car move and it needs fluid designed for transmissions, it works the same way engine oil works for the motor. Transmission fluid is typically reddish in color. 
  • Power Steering Fluid: A car with power steering needs fluid to lubricate the power steering system for smooth turning operation. Power steering fluid is reddish in color. 
  • Brake Fluid: The braking system in a car is operated by hydraulics and fluid is needed for that hydraulic system to work smoothly. Brake fluid should be a clear-yellowish color, if it is any darker, then you should have a mechanic check your braking system.
  • Air Conditioning Coolant: The coolant in your air conditioning is like an oil that keeps it running smoothly and cooling your car. Over time, it can dissipate, and your air won’t be as cool as it should, even though it is blowing air. It is a clear gas like substance but can be detected with ultraviolet light and appear yellowish. 
  • Windshield Washer Fluid: This may be the last fluid you think of for your car, but it is important because it keeps a clear visibility.  Most windshield washer fluids are blue, there are some pink colored one that include a freon to keep the water from freezing up. When you see blue car fluid leaking, it is probably the reservoir for the windshield washer fluid. 

Is power steering fluid and transmission fluid the same?

In some ways, yes.  Both automatic transmission fluid and power steering fluid are hydraulic car fluids. Automatic Transmission Fluid can be used for power steering fluid, but not the other way around. pump. However, you should check the manual that comes with your car and read the manufacturer’s specifications. Some cars must have automatic transmission fluid and a substitute won’t work. 

What fluid levels should I check in my car?

Each car is different and each fluid in every car is different. The standard schedule for an oil change is every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, however, you need to check the oil more frequently.  Depending on the age of your car, a weekly oil check is sufficient, you could go 10 to 14 days in between oil checks. 

Make sure your car is parked on a level area and only when the motor is cold. Checking the oil while the motor is warm will give you an inaccurate reading. The brake fluid and power steering fluid should be checked while the car is parked on a level area too. When checking the transmission fluid, leave the engine running and have the transmission in neutral. Checking both of these once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Most auto shops that do oil changes will check all the fluids for you while they have your car. The windshield washer fluid is one that you’ll need to check periodically and add more fluid based on how much you use the wiper system. 

Is it oil or transmission fluid leaking?

Any type of puddle under your car is a sign that your car needs mechanical attention. How quickly it needs it depends on what the leak is from and how bad it is leaking. 

With an oil leak, it generally will not create a puddle under your car, but if it does, do not drive it, call your mechanic. Oil leaks tend to be more of a drip or seepage, and it takes a good amount before it leaves a puddle or spot under the car, then it will be a brownish color in most cases. In a car that has engine problems, the oil could be black. 

A transmission leak can be fairly simple to diagnose by the location of the leak. The fluid is a distinct reddish color to a brownish color. If you aren’t sure it’s the transmission, move your car and place a piece of cardboard or paper where you park. After driving your car for a bit (go to work and back), park over the cardboard or paper. If there is a reddish spot or stain on that paper, you have a transmission leak. 

If you have a car leaking fluid and smoking, where the smoke is coming from is a general idea of what fluid is leaking. Oil leaks will usually have smoke coming from the exhaust area or under the hood.  Oil is one car fluid you’ll know the smell when it leaks. There are car fluids on the market you can add to the oil or transmission that is a stop leak fluid for cars as a temporary fix. 

What color is transmission fluid when it leaks?

A transmission car fluid leak is going to be a reddish brown in color with a thin layer of fluid on top or a  thicker brown layer on top.          

oil change

How do I change the fluid in my car?

The oil and transmission will require you to have your car on a level area and drain the car fluid that is in the car now by removing the oil pan or transmission pan, then remove the oil or transmission filter.  Clean the pan edges off and apply new gasket or sealant on the clean surface.  Replace the filter then replace the pan. Next, add oil or transmission fluid in the amount recommended by the manufacturer. 

For changing brake fluid, simply empty the reservoir, clean out with a rag and add the new brake fluid. There isn’t a screen or pan to remove as there is with oil and transmission fluid changes.  Same is to be said of windshield washer fluid, although that isn’t one of the car fluids that needs to be changes. 

For the radiator fluid, you’ll pull the drain plug out on the bottom of the radiator and allow all the water and antifreeze to run out. When it is emptied, replace the drain plug, and add half and half water to antifreeze or antifreeze that is 50/50. 

When it comes to your car fluids, they each are important and play a significant role in how your car performs. Car fluids like the transmission can cause your car to stall at the worst possible time and car fluids like the oil are important to keep your motor in good condition.  Finding a mechanic you can trust is essential for car ownership. Need help with your car and its fluids in Schaumburg, IL? Call 847-895-9131 today.