We’re heading into winter driving season, a time when you want your car to be at its very best. When the inevitable winter storms and ice hit, you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road or in an accident. That’s why it pays to check your car fluids, or have your mechanic check your car at your next appointment to make sure that your car keeps going through the winter storms, ice, and all the other severe winter weather that comes our way.
Back in the days of Driver’s Ed, our teacher heeded a stern warning: be careful to add too much water to your radiator or the water freezes and damages your car. His advice still rings true today; make sure you check your antifreeze (another word for this fluid is coolant) to make sure your antifreeze is topped off (without too much water) so your car doesn’t overheat during a long drive on one of the coldest days of the year.
A car engine without oil, or enough oil, is an engine with a death wish and a limited life span. That’s why it’s so important to make regular appointments to get your oil changed, and to check it periodically between appointments. To check your oil, turn off your engine and grab a paper towel. Open the hood of your car and locate your dipstick. Pull your dipstick out and wipe off the end. Put the dipstick back in and pull it out. Your dipstick has little lines on it; make sure your oil level is between the two lines (and not above the max line). If your oil level is low, add oil. Make sure you added enough by checking the oil again when you are done.
If you find your oil level is consistently low, mention it to your mechanic at your next appointment. A low oil level can indicate an oil leak or another issue.
Windshield washer fluid
Nothing makes us madder than when we go to clean our windshield and don’t have washer fluid—even worse when the weather is bad and really needed. Locate the windshield washer reservoir under your head, and fill it up as needed. As long as you’re at it, inspect windshield wipers for wear and tear. If they are in bad shape, purchase a new set to get you through winter—you don’t want to go through a bad winter storm without a properly functioning windshield wiper.
Your transmission fluid does not need to be changed regularly (flushed) like oil; however transmission fluid does break down over time and needs to be periodically checked and evaluated. There is a process for checking transmission fluid; you can find directions here. If you don’t feel comfortable checking it, ask your mechanic to check your transmission fluid at your next oil change appointment. Transmission fluid should be red, but gets darker in color as it breaks down. Still, darker fluid does not warrant a transmission fluid flush; instead rely on your car manufacturer guidelines and whether your car is having issues shifting.
If you have any questions about checking the fluids in your car, schedule an appointment with your mechanic . The mechanic can check your fluids, refill as needed, and give you peace of mind that you won’t be stranded in the middle of a snow storm.