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Car Care: The Basics of Automotive Fluids

Gloved Hands Pouring Fluids
Your car is a complicated machine with many components working together to keep it running well. It’s not just the mechanisms, software tech, or individual parts that keep you on the road, however. Several fluids are vital to your car’s successful performance and longevity. According to AAA Automotive, “Vehicle fluids require attention more often than the 5,000- to 10,000-mile service intervals common today. Incorrect fluid levels can cause breakdowns or even serious damage.”
Starting power
Regular oil changes as recommended by the owner’s manual or an automotive technician help protect the engine. Your engine works hard and utilizes many moving parts to start and keep your car moving. Every time you turn the key or hit the start button, your engine kicks into action, motivating several machineries to work together. “Oil lubricates these components and reduces friction, making it the lifeblood of your engine,” according to J.D. Power writer Liz Kim.
Responsive performance
Your engine and transmission combine to give power and responsiveness to your car’s performance. Just like engine oil is a top oil to check and maintain, so is automatic transmission fluid. According to AAA Automotive, transmission fluid helps lubricate seals to keep them flexible and allows for the transfer of power.
Cool operation
Your engine runs hot, and in order to keep it and its components from burning up, it needs something to cool it down. Engine coolant acts as an engine antifreeze. “Coolant flows through the engine, carrying the heat to the radiator. Fresh air flows into the radiator through the front grille, chilling the coolant before it makes another trip through the engine,” reports Kim.
Stopping strength
A responsive, robust engine is important to your journey. Vital to your safety, though, is strong stopping power. That’s where brake fluid comes in — not only does it help protect the components of your car’s braking system, it also helps you fully and safely stop when you hit the brakes, notes AAA Automotive.
Steering support
Depending on how new your car is, power steering fluid might not be a concern for you. But, if your car relies on a traditional power steering, this fluid should not be overlooked. “If your car’s power steering suddenly feels heavy and hard to turn, this may indicate low power steering fluid levels or a leak somewhere in the system. The condition merits a check of the power steering fluid reservoir before visiting a mechanic,” Kim advises.
Clear view
When your windshield is dirty, smudged, or covered in road salt, you put your safety at risk. You need an unobstructed view for a safe drive, which means you need a filled windshield washer fluid reservoir. This way, when the elements hit or dirt sticks, you can quickly wash away the debris for a clear view of the road ahead. “Use a bug-removing washer fluid in summer, and a solution with antifreeze properties in winter if you live where temperatures drop below freezing,” recommends AAA Automotive.
Pay attention to these vital fluids and check them regularly to make sure they are at the proper level so that you can protect your engine, stop effectively, steer well, and see clearly.
This article is presented by Capistrano Volkswagen.
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