Contrary to misconception, besides gasoline and engine oil your car has needs of other fluids that need to be inspected and serviced as well for it’s consistent performance and your safety. Let’s have a look at a few of these:
- Engine Oil
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Power steering Fluid
Lets dive into the specifics of each of the above.
Engine Oil, this is the more popular one due to the many quick lube signs around the city, lets try and understand it’s benefit. Largely engine oil is responsible for lubrication of the moving components within the engine and helps prevent the metallic components from rusting. Not only lubrication, but it also allows for some measure of cooling to the engine (along with the coolant/radiator systems), sludgy engine oil causes build up of heat in your engine area.
Checking your engine oil is typically very easy, by consulting your manufacturer’s Vehicle owner’s manual, there is typically a dipstick located in the Engine bay, which you can inspect to find the health of the engine oil: if it is low in level, or it appears too dirty (brown/black) or thick. Typically, if you are using synthetic oil – it is recommended to have your fuel filter and oil replaced every 5,000 km or 6 months, whichever comes first. If you notice when your vehicle is parked overnight, and you come back to brownish spots below the front of your vehicle – this is a sign, that your fuel filter is leaking oil and there might be some inspection required. Moreover, newer vehicles are able to detect low engine oil and notify you of this on your dashboard right away. This alert should be given immediate attention, as driving your car with low engine oil would lead to significant damage to your engine components.
You might here of many different variations of engine oil: synthetic, conventional, semi-synthetic, synthetic-blend, high mileage etc. Fundamentally, most oils can be classified as one of the two:
- Conventional : This is typically cheaper than synthetic oil, typically used for cars that have low mileage and you don’t do much extreme driving (stop-and-go traffic). Needs to be changed more frequently than synthetic oil (every 5000 km typically). A good alternative, if you stick to the schedule of changing your oil more frequently.
- Synthetic : This type of oil is an engineering oil for higher performance, severe driving conditions, and longer lasting change intervals. They are more resistant to extremes of temperature (extremely hot, or extremely low) and still perform significant well. These oils, also have chemical additives, that further help prevent deposits in your engine and allow for a longer life. This has to be changed more infrequently than conventional oil. If you are used to doing a lot of towing, this is a great option for your vehicle compared to conventional oil.
Ottawa Pre-Owned prides itself on not only offering an Engine Oil change, but an Engine Oil Flush. What is the difference you ask? Fundamentally, it is a more thorough cleaning of the engine instead of just a regular engine oil change, which involves removal of the older oil and replacement with newer oil. Instead, a flush involves the addition of chemical additives that are added and the car is idled so that the additives circulate through the different components and help dissolve sludge and other corrosive deposits that have built up in your engine. This is typically a procedure that is recommended only if your engine is not working upto it’s engineering specifications and has not undergone periodic oil changes. We wouldn’t recommend this procedure unless we thought, it will significantly improve the health and driving experience of your car.
Coolant fluid, this is the fluid which resides in your car’s radiator and helps cool down your engine components. Sometimes, also referred to as anti-freeze, during the winter months it does another duty of making sure that your engine doesn’t freeze. In-addition to this, making sure your coolant/anti-freeze doesn’t become acidic and corrode your radiator and radiator components over-time is extremely important to ensure that your engine runs well. Typically, the duration to have this inspected is once every 50,000 km or once a year. It can be changed more infrequently, depending on the health of the coolant, and the quality that is used. Newer vehicles are able to detect low coolant fluid and notify you of this on your dashboard right away. Another indicator is monitoring your temperature gauge, and if it deviating from what you normally are used to – this is another sign of coolant/radiator issues.
Transmission fluid, if you have an automatic vehicle this is also referred to as ATF (Automatic transmission Fluid) fluid. The transmission oil goes through all the components of the transmission system (gears among other things) of your vehicle and ensures the components are well lubricated and prevents corrosion and rust. The periodicity of this is best consulted by your Vehicle owner’s manual. Some cars, have life-time transmission oil, and should not be replaced. Signs that points towards issues with your transmission could be rough/hard shifting when accelerating, and also a feeling of slipping when the gears are changed.
Brake Fluid, this is likely the most ignored fluid, until problems reach a level where it cannot be ignored any further. Typically, it is recommended to absolutely change your fluid once every 2 years, earlier if problems are detected. The main problem requiring your brake fluid to be changed is the build up of moisture. The presence of moisture changes the chemical properties of the fluid and impedes it from doing its intended task. This causes internal rust (due to moisture), corrosion, lowering of the boiling point and causing poor braking and impact to your brake system components. If you ever notice that your brake pedal needs to be compressed more than earlier, take the opportunity and have your vehicle inspected.
Power steering fluid, this fluids helps the power steering system generate the require hydraulic pressure to aid in your easy steering. Typically best to go by the Vehicle Owner’s manual, it might be good to have this inspected every 50,000 km or earlier if you have issues with your steering. Signs of power steering issues, might be harsh steering or a noise when you turn your steering wheel all the way to one extreme end.