4 Essential Fluids Your Car Depends On
Engine oil is the fluid that provides lubrication for moving engine parts. It is critical for reducing friction and heat and wear which can cause wear and tear. Over time, engine oil will begin to break down and become less effective at protecting your engine. How often should you change your engine oil? The short answer is typically every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. But in reality, it depends on many factors, including the climate, your driving habits, whether you are towing, making frequent short trips and other factors. It's best to follow your vehicle's owners manual and, if it has one, change the oil when the "change oil" light comes on.
If you wait too long between oil change intervals, the engine can become damaged from the friction and heat caused buy the lack of lubrication. In the short term this can affect your fuel economy and emissions. In the long term, it's likely to lead to more engine repairs and a shorter lifespan for the vehicle. So regular oil changes are one of the simplest – and most important – maintenance tasks you can perform.
Should you use conventional or synthetic oil? We recommend following your owner’s manual. If the vehicle does not require a certain type of oil, you should choose between types of oil based on your performance and budget needs.
Like engine oil, transmission fluid works as a lubricant and coolant. It also serves to condition gaskets and and keep metal surfaces clean. Transmission fluids also break down over time, although the effects and lifespan can vary widely. If tranmission fluid is too low, or breaks down and becomes less effective, it can cause problems with your automatic transmission, that may include excessive noise and/or hard shifting.
How often you change your transmission fluid will depend on many factors, but the average is between 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Manual transmissions require more frequent transmission oil changes, usually every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. However, there are vehicles that may never require the transmission fluid to be changed. The best advice is to check your owner's manual for transmission fluid service intervals.
Unlike transmission and engine oil, brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid. It works by creating pressure in the brake lines to multiply force. This makes it easier to press on the brake pedal to make the brake pads contact the rotors, which in turn slows the vehicle down.
Brake fluid should be checked along with other fluids to ensure the levels are within the correct range. Over time, brake fluid will absorb moisture and become contaminated with particles inside the brake system. Because it is critical to the safe operation of your vehicle, be sure to follow your owner's manual for brake fluid maintenance service. Your service technician may also recommend replacing the brake fluid if there is no history of maintenance or the vehicle is showing signs of poor braking performance.
The purpose of engine coolant is to allow your engine to operate within the optimal temperature range, preventing damage to the engine from freezing and boiling temperatures. If coolant levels drop too low, or the coolant degrades and becomes ineffective, the result can be overheating and the potential for major engine damage.
Like the other fluids above, engine coolant will breakdown over time and become contaminated with particles from the engine. Generally, engine coolant should be replaced every 100,000 miles, or once every three years. Check your owner's manual for your vehicle's recommend coolant service interval.