Last time out we chatted about keeping your tyres in tip-top condition to keep you and other motorists nice and safe on the road, whatever the weather. There are so many elements that you can keep on top of yourself to keep your vehicle running smoothly, that will save you money at the garage and ensure you have your car for a long time yet.
This time around, we’re talking all things fluid. Stare at your engine and you’ll see lots of ‘caps’, which will all be the same colour (most commonly yellow, blue or black but check yours) and they probably have a little image on them like so:
Thanks to Ingenie for the image –
click for details on how to fill your screenwash!
This means YOU can open them and fill them up. You don’t have to wait until your service or MOT (in fact, you’re best doing it yourself so you know there are no leaks before you hand you car over and get a shock!). BUT CHECK your manual if you’re unsure which of these you can open.
So, what fluids can you take care of?
🚗 Screen Wash
Or, as I like to call it, squishies (cos that’s the sound it makes)! This one is a must to keep topped up. Not only is it illegal to have no way of clearing your windscreen while driving (carrying a fine!), there’s also not much more annoying than pulling on that lever only to get an unsatisfying dribble bubble about on your bonnet and your wipers still move which often results in a lovely smear of the muck on your screen. If you use concentrate that you can make up yourself you can have it more dilute in the summer and more concentrated in the winter. Keep pouring until it bubbles up the spout, wait a minute and then pour some more but don’t totally fill to the brim. Check this before long journeys and make a note in your calendar when you last topped up – that way you won’t get caught short.
While we’re on screens, it doesn’t hurt to check your wipers too, and once in a while give them a quick wipe over with some warm water with a spot of vinegar in. This will help degrease them making them more efficient. DON’T use washing up liquid. They are rubber and they won’t like it.
So you know the dipstick? And you know you have to check it regularly (especially before a long journey)? And you know what you’re looking for? If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of these go and look at your engine NOW, because it probably means you’ve never checked your oil and you may or may not have some in there!
Your car likes oil. It keeps it running smoothly. So checking is important. If your dipstick is black you might be due a change. If it’s low, pop into any of our stores, we’ll be able to help you find the right oil for your car (and show you where to put it!).
🚗 Antifreeze (or coolant)
Engines work at their best when they’re hot. But they can’t get too hot or they stop (confusing huh!). So to keep them running at the best temperature antifreeze and water work together to run around the engine, travelling to the radiator where it cools down as the air rushes in, then taking that cooled fluid back to the engine where it absorbs excess heat before going back to the radiator and so on.
The level should pretty much always be in the middle of the min/max lines on the expansion tank so unless you have a serious leak you’re unlikely to have to refill it. But if you do a WORD OF WARNING…..NEVER TAKE THE TOP OFF THE EXPANSION TANK WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT. You are likely to get scolded and we don’t want that. Wait until your car has fully cooled and then go about refilling. We at Oak Road care about our customers’ safety – be engine aware!
🚗 Power Steering
You’ll know if this one goes, steering will be difficult and often accompanied by a screeching or whining noise. You can drive without the fluid but you are likely to do damage to your pump, which will be costly in the long run. Again this one should be between min and max levels and if it’s getting low get it topped up – but also keep an eye on it as lower levels could indicate a leak somewhere.
🚗 Brake Fluid
Low brake fluid could indicate a leak or worn pads. Keep an eye and keep it topped up. If you notice you’re pulling to one side when braking, or your brakes are spongy, or you have longer stopping distances, or perhaps you spot a light on your dash…these are all good indicators that you should check your brake fluid.
We’re sure you know this but just in case…when checking all the fluid levels in you car it’s best to be parked on a level surface 😁
On a side note, now you know what you’re looking for if you are thinking of buying a car privately pop the bonnet and check all of these levels before and after your Private Test Drive.
Oak Road branches sell just about any fluid you vehicle could need. You don’t have to be trade, anyone can pop into any branch and take advantage of our low cost products. If we’re not busy, we might even pop it in for you!*
*We cannot guarantee we can do this for you, but we’ll do our best if the branch is quiet. Thanks for understanding.