Van Nuys Auto Repair & Service Center

5 Car Fluids You Need to Check to Stay Safe on the Road

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid
Just as we maintain our health by eating right, exercising and making sure we drink lots of water, there are certain things that we must do to keep our cars and trucks in good health, and keeping a close watch on the fluid levels is one of them. If you’re driving a newer automobile you need not worry too much about this as your dashboard panel will alert you to any fluids that may be low or when regularly scheduled maintenance is required. There are five primary fluids you need to check to stay safe on the road. They include engine oil, power steering, brake, transmission, and radiator fluids.

I was just talking about this with a long-time customer the other day. Her grandson had recently gotten his driver’s license, and she had surprised him with a slightly used car. “One of the first things I said to my grandson was ‘Please go through the driver’s manual and note how often you have to bring your car in for maintenance and what should be checked.’ He nodded, but I don’t think he took it to heart. I guess I should be happy that the dashboard ’idiot lights’ will alert him to any problems.”

I told her that if she thought it would be helpful, I would be happy to talk to him myself and give him a quick introduction to his vehicle and why he needs to pay attention to the fluid levels in his car. I also advised her to have him watch our online videos

Engine Oil
Engine oil is to your car’s engine what blood is to your body. Without it, your engine will die, and it is one of the costliest parts of the vehicle to replace. It helps lubricate the parts which in turn allow it to run as it was designed to. Not changing your oil and allowing the fluid to reach too low a level or get gunked up, will impact the engine block’s functionality and may damage it beyond repair.

Power Steering Fluid. If you’re of a certain age or have classic cars, you know that power steering fluid has made every driver’s life a little easier. This hydraulic fluid allows your car’s steering wheel to make smooth, easy to maneuver turns. I’m sure my client’s grandson has no clue how difficult the wheel of his car would be to turn, if not for the power steering fluid. Over time, the fluid can become contaminated when seals, O-rings and other things in the power steering column start to break down, causing a more serious problem. Replacing the power steering fluid at regular intervals is the easiest and least expensive way to maintain your power steering system. If you feel any stiffness in your steering column bring your car into AutoAid. We’ll make sure there aren’t any leaks and can add fluid if needed.

Brake Fluid. Whether or not you are a car aficionado, you know that your brakes need the appropriate amount of fluid to function and keep you safe on the road. I suggested to my customer that she tell her grandson to be gentle with his brakes as the pads can easily be worn down by constant slamming on the brakes. At AutoAid we check your brake fluid when you bring your car in for an oil change. The fluid doesn’t need changing each time and will likely be good for four to five years depending on your driving habits. It’s also a good rule of thumb to have the brake fluid flushed out and replaced with every 30,000 miles.

Transmission Fluid.
No matter what kind of car you have, your transmission fluid must be maintained at a certain viscosity and level in your automobile or truck. It aids the gear shift in making smooth transitions when you are driving. Many manufacturers suggest that manual transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Under heavy-duty use, some may even recommend 15,000 miles. Depending on the age and make of the car, automatic transmission fluid may need to be changed every 30,000 miles or not at all. It is also suggested that you have your transmission flushed every two years or 30,000 miles. We don’t repair transmissions at our shop, but can recommend reliable, quality shops in the area. Although I don’t think my client’s grandson will have to worry about his transmission, it’s always good to be aware of the signs of a developing problem.

Radiator Fluid
Your car’s radiator is the heart of its internal cooling system, keeping the other components (the water pump, hoses, belts, thermostat, and sensors) running at optimal levels. Most cars require equal parts of distilled water and antifreeze, also known as coolant, to maintain a constant temperature that is not too cold or too hot. If you see a leak from the radiator or your car or truck overheats, contact AutoAid. If your vehicle isn’t drivable due to the state of the radiator, we also offer towing services to our shop in Van Nuys.

AutoAid provides automotive repair services to the San Fernando Valley, parts of the Conejo Valley as well as to West Los Angeles and the Hollywood areas. To make sure your car is in optimal working order, visit or make an appointment with AutoAid today. We have been a AAA Approved Auto Repair and Customer Service Award Winner for over 35 years. We believe it’s because we take the time to listen to our customers, treat them with respect and their vehicles with tender loving care. It has been the AutoAid way since 1979. We can be reached at (818) 305-6632.

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