With the refinements in today's manufacturing processes, today's cars have gotten quite reliable. In fact, so reliable that often owners forget that there is still one critlcal item that needs maintenance, which are the vital fluids within every vehicle. In addition to vehicles' normal maintenance appointments per the owners manual, the vital fluids in a car must be checked regularly and maintained at their proper level.
What you don't want to see is smoke coming from your engine or the various dashboard warning lights glowing indicating an engine failure has either occured or is imminent. This is a very bad sight indicating major trouble that possibly could have been easily avoided.
First off, every car owner should read the section in their owner's manual that has the various maintence activities laid out. We highly recommend that car owners follow the recommendations and get their car maintained on a regular basis. Now the tricky part is that vital fluids should be checked often and should be a part of your daily driving routine.
The vitial fluids that should be regularly monitored in your car are:
- Fuel. This is a no-brainer, but it is easier than you think to ignore the fuel guage and believe you can get just a few more miles prior to that stop at the filling station. This is particularly important in areas where stations are few and far between. This is one instance where having a cell phone in your car is a good thing, just make sure you park before making your call... Fortunately, this is a relatively inexpensive fix by getting some fuel in the car. Tip - "E" does not mean "Enough" and indeed stands for "Empty". A quick check of the fuel guage every time you get into your car will alleviate this potential problem.
- Engine oil. It is surprising how many people don't understand the importance of proper engine oil level in their cars. Without oil, a car engine will eventually seize-up and quit running. And it will probably happen at the worst possible time, often in the middle of rush hour or late at night on a lonely road. This can cause major headaches and is guaranteed to be a VERY costly repair. We recommend you check engine oil level weekly or even more often if your commute is very lengthy. The owner's manual for the car will show the proper method for checking the engine oil level and the type of oil to use. Make sure you read this section of the manual as the method of checking this vital fluid varies from car to car.
- Coolant. Another very important car fluid is the engine coolant. Without proper coolant the car engine will overheat and can cause a variety of problems including the seizing of the engine. This can also be a VERY costly repair and put your car out of commission for a long time. As with oil, engine coolant should be checked on a weekly basis. Coolant also has an added complexity as it is actually a mixture of water and anti-freeze solution. As you can guess, the anti-freeze keeps the solution from freezing in the winter and also increases the cooling ability in the summer. Read your owner's manual for checking the proper level and mixture of engine oil coolant.
- Windshield washer fluid. Not as critical as the above fluids, but maintaining proper level is still very important. When the windshield is dirty and it starts to rain, running out of washer fluid can create an unsafe driving situation. It is very difficult to drive safely without good visibility and this fluid helps maintain a clean windshield which is one of the keys to safe driving.
- Other fluids. There are several other fluids in your car that are vital to its operation but normally only need to be checked during the typical mainteance intervals. These include items such as transmission fluid, differential oil, brake fluid, etc. These are all vitial fluids but under normal conditions are much less prone to issues and can be checked during periodic service intervals.
The bottom line is that when first getting your new car, it is highly recommended that owners read the owner's manual and pay close attention to maintaining the vital fluids that keep your vehicle operating smoothly. Please check our driving tips section for instrutional videos and more driving tips.