5 fluids that are critical to car performance

When you bring your car in for a complete tune-up, the vehicle’s fluids are on your mechanic’s checklist. At Auto Value Certified Service Centers, our experienced mechanics can determine which of your car’s fluids need to be replaced. Here are the five main fluids that extend your car’s lifespan and ensure it performs optimally.

1. Motor oil. Also known as engine oil, this fluid is vital to vehicle performance. Its role is to lubricate engine components and prevent friction. Too much friction can cause engine parts to overheat and wear out prematurely. There are two main types of motor oil (mineral and synthetic) and various subcategories, so be sure to use the product recommended in your car owner’s manual. You should also consult your manual to find out how often you must change the motor oil (it’s usually done at every tire change).

2. Brake fluid. Though it often gets overlooked, brake fluid plays a key role in your car’s braking system. This non-compressible, clear or yellowish fluid transfers pressure from the brakes to the brake calipers. On occasion, brake fluid can overheat, causing air bubbles to form. Since bubbles can be compressed, this reduces the volume of brake fluid in your vehicle. As a result, the brake system performs less efficiently, and the pedals become less sensitive. In addition, low levels of brake fluid can lead to premature wear of the brake pads.

3. Power steering fluid. Like brake fluid, this is a type of hydraulic fluid. It’s pressurized by the power steering pump, which helps make moving the steering wheel feel effortless. Over time, this red liquid can degrade and force the pump to work harder. Eventually, it will fail. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that having your power steering fluid changed costs a lot less than a pump replacement.

4. Transmission fluid. Also red in colour, transmission fluid serves primarily to lubricate the various transmission components. Like motor oil, it needs to be changed regularly to prevent mechanical breakdowns. If your car is an automatic, the transmission fluid reservoir is generally equipped with a dipstick for determining the fluid level. Note that transmission fluid levels need to be checked while the engine is running. In manual vehicles, transmission fluid reservoirs tend to be more difficult to access. In any event, you can’t go wrong with entrusting this task to your mechanic.

5. Coolant. This fluid is tinged yellow or green and is vital for proper engine operation. It’s very important to check the coolant level regularly and add more as needed. Cooling systems vary between vehicle models and require specific coolant types, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when choosing a product for your car.

To ensure that your car performs optimally year-round, and to avoid damage and costly repairs, make it a habit to get it serviced by a qualified mechanic. To get your car topped up with high-quality fluids, make an appointment at your Auto Value Certified Service Center.

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