Reasons To Service Your Fluid System
Posted on March 12, 2020
The Six Critical Fluids You Need To Check To Keep Your Car, Truck, or SUV Operating Smoothly
To a surprising degree, the bulk of your vehicle's maintenance is preventative, in other words, services or replacement of parts before they cause a problem. There are two primary areas of preventive maintenance.
One is the filters on your vehicle, like air, oil, and fuel, but also cabin air filters. The other is the fluids that are the lifeblood of your vehicle. A modern vehicle simply couldn't exist without these fluid systems. Furthermore, if they're neglected it could cause system failures that can be extremely expensive to repair.
Instructions on checking all six of the systems that we have listed below are included in your vehicle's owner's manual. You can also have the certified technicians at Caledon Chrysler check any or all of these systems on your behalf, or even teach you how to check them yourself, if you'd like.
This is the process that most drivers are familiar with. In most cars, you just need to pop up your hood, find the oil dipstick, pull it out, and wipe it down. However, with an emphasis on reducing internal engine friction (lowering emissions and improving fuel economy) modern engine sometimes utilize synthetic oils and or have less oil in the engine than they're predecessors. Check your owner's manual. There may be specific instructions as to when and how to check the oil to get the most accurate reading. The same goes for oil change frequency. The owner's manual will provide you with the recommended interval for normal driving and for driving in severe conditions, which is more common than you might think.
The automatic transmission fluid (or ATF) is optimized for the special requirements of an automatic transmission, such as valve operation, brake band friction and the torque converter as well as gear lubrication. You check your automatic transmission fluid the same as your engine oil, with the exception in most cases that the car be running. Unlike your engine oil, transmission fluid is part of a closed system, so it should never be low (which would indicate a leak that should be addressed as soon as possible). So rather than concentrating on checking the level, you're inspecting the quality of the fluid. The fluid should be red and not smell burnt. If it shows discoloration or gives off a burnt smell, have it inspected by a Certified Technician at Caledon Chrysler to determine whether the transmission requires repair or simply a fluid change. As always, check your owner's manual for the proper frequency of inspecting your automatic transmission fluid.
Engine coolant/anti-freeze keeps your car, truck, or SUV running cool in the summer and keeps it from freezing up in the winter. If you ever run low on coolant, your vehicle will either overheat if it's summer or freeze solid if it's winter. Further the properties that allow the coolant/anti-freeze to operate at temperature below and above straight water diminish with time and need to be replaced. In the bad old days you'd have to wait for your car to cool and remove the radiator cap. Now there are expansion tanks on all cars and trucks with markings. Check your owner's manual both for the conditions under which you should check your coolant and how frequently the coolant should be replaced.
Believe it or not but your brake fluid actually wears out. Not in the sense of wearing out like brake pads, but brake fluid is formulated to capture water that comes from atmospheric contamination. Water is bad news for a breaking system. First, unlike brake fluid, it's compressible (which makes the breaks spongy). Second, water in the system creates the risk of a metal brake line rusting through causing a partial system failure. So brake fluid needs to be removed and replaced per the manufacturer's schedule listed in your owner's manual. In addition, check the brake fluid reservoir for the color of the fluid. Clean brake fluid looks somewhat like oil. If it's brown, it's definitely time to replace, and if it's low (marked on the reservoir) it could be the sign of a leak.
Power Steering Fluid
As cars, trucks, and SUVs get heavier with all the required safety and emissions systems, and tires get wider, for better traction and control, it would require a body builder to steer a modern vehicle without power steering. Power steering uses a pump to push a piston that's attached to the steering rack. Turn right and the pump sends fluid to the appropriate piston. If the power steering fluid is low, the first indication you may get (if you're not checking) is a squeal when you turn the wheel all the way to the right of left while parked with the engine running. Any drop in fluid usually indicates a leak in either one of the hoses or the seals inside the ram. As always, this can be prevented usually by performing the preventive maintenance outlined in your owner's manual.
While most people who list oil and brake fluid as critical to the operation of their car, truck, or SUV, they rarely think of washer fluid as important. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Ontario, as snows melt and streets and highways before wet with run-off, it's a constant battle to keep your windshield clean. Washer fluid is a consumable so there's no schedule to replace it. Instead, as the vehicle operator you should take the opportunity at every other fill-up to lift the hood and eyeball the washer fluid tank. While you can purchase Washer fluid on almost any street corner, Caledon Chrysler features the OEM Complete Washer Fluid that contains a heavy-duty de-icer, a premium detergent package and rain repellent.
So whether its regular scheduled fluid maintenance or a concern over a low fluid level or bad smell, bring your car, truck, or SUV into the certified technical experts at Caledon Chrysler in Bolton and they'll have it sorted out in no time.