Saturday, April 16, 2011

Checking and Adding Fluids

If you are going to attempt to check or add any fluids to your engine always refer to your owner's manual there are some procedures to follow. Let's start with oil now that you have bought the correct type. Make sure your engine is off and your vehicle is on a level surface. When you open your hood on some newer vehicles you will see a lot of plastic covering most of the engine and also some colored plastic hoops or hooks usually yellow or red or some other bright color. These colors are basically telling you that "You Can Do This and leave everything else alone and bring it to us" ( the dealer's service dept.). Once you have located your oil dipstick pull it out and wipe it off with a clean rag. You should disregard this first reading because there is usually residual oil on the dipstick and may give you an inaccurate reading. Re-insert the dipstick, pull it back out and take note of the level, wipe it clean and repeat this process once or twice more and that should be your level. If you need to add oil locate your oil cap and add oil here. Only add a little at a time from a quart size bottle unless you know that you can use an entire quart in one pour without overfilling your capacity. Do not overfill your oil capacity you can cause unnecessary engine problems and find yourself under your car draining some of the oil out that you just put in.

If you can check your power steering fluid, again have the vehicle level and engine off. Make sure you have the correct specification fluid. Use the same procedure as I mentioned for checking your oil dipstick except for with the power steering the dipstick might have two levels, one for "cold" and one for "hot". This means that if your engine is cold when you check it use the "cold" level and if it's hot use the "hot" level. You may need a funnel and remember not to overfill.

When you check your transmission fluid make sure your vehicle is on a level surface, but this time you will need to have your engine idling in "Park" for an automatic transmission. Make sure you take all safety precautions if you plan to do this so that the car does not move and you should not have on any loose dangling clothing and remember there will be moving parts on the engine so stay clear. Also you will need a small funnel for this because you fill the transmission down the same tube where the dipstick comes out on most cars. Pour in very small portions because you don't want to overfill this capacity either. You might also have the hot and cold level marks on the dipstick. If you have a manual transmission you should have a small reservoir at the back of the firewall in the engine compartment. This reservoir is not only similar to your brake master cylinder but usually takes the same fluid which in most cases is DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid.To be sure check the stamped wording on the cap if it is present. Find the level marks on the reservoir they might read "min" and "max" or something comparable.

Be extremely careful if you need to add engine coolant also known as "antifreeze". Never try to fill this fluid when your engine is hot it's under pressure and you can get burned. You will fill your coolant at the radiator cap either on the radiator or at the overflow reservoir. The reservoir will have level marks on it but usually not the radiator just fill it up below the overflow tube on the neck. Engine coolant is keeping up with oil with all the choices but basically you have straight concentrated coolant and 50/50. Concentrated has to be mixed to 50 parts coolant plus 50 parts water when added to your radiator. 50/50 coolant can be poured right in with no mixing required. Generally you should add the same color coolant to your radiator but this is not always fool proof. You can buy coolant that will mix with all types but if you are not comfortable with this check your owner's manual, look for a labeled sticker under your hood, or on your radiator cap for the correct type.

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