Pay attention to coolants, power steering fluid and transmission fluid to ensure your car runs better, for longer. Just like the doctor will tell you to watch your fluids, a good mechanic should say the same about your car. Here are six useful tips.
1. Dilute your coolant
- Your cooling system needs both coolant-antifreeze and water, so don’t pour undiluted coolant into your cooling system.
- Dilute it with water to the commonly recommended 50-50 ratio. Similarly, don’t use straight water in your system either.
*N.B.: Some coolants come ready to pour directly out of the container into the radiator and require no dilution. Make sure you read which kind it is on the container’s label.
- The coolant protects against corrosion and freezing. The water ensures good heat transfer from the coolant to the radiator.
2. Keep your cool
- Check the coolant-antifreeze level weekly that shows on the translucent coolant-antifreeze overflow tank.
- If low, fill to the maximum fill mark on the tank with a 50-50 solution of coolant-antifreeze and water.
- Some coolant manufacturers now sell premixed coolant and water for the motorist who wants a quick and easy way to top off.
3. Don’t forget to flush
- Coolant-antifreeze eventually degrades and becomes contaminated.
- Flush it from your cooling system as recommended in your manual (typically every two years; every five years for newer coolants).
- Failing to do so can damage your radiator, clog your heater core, and cause the thermostat and water pump to fail.
4. Don’t mix coolants
- Avoid mixing coolants that are different in colour. If your coolant is pink, don’t add a green formulation to it.
- Otherwise, you’ll end up with a thick solution that won’t do its job. Use only the coolant specified in your owner’s manual.
5. Check power-steering fluid
- Check the power-steering fluid once a month with the car warmed up. If the level is low, have the hoses and pump inspected for leaks.
- In addition to making your car difficult to steer, low power-steering fluid will damage the power-steering pump.
- Be sure to use the power-steering fluid recommended for you car.
6. Maintain your transmission
- Change automatic transmission fluid and filter after the first 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) and after every 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) or two years thereafter, or as recommended in your owner’s manual.
- If you use your vehicle for towing, change the fluid and filter every year.
- For manual transmissions, change the lubricant (motor oil or gear oil, depending on the car) after the first 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) and after every 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) thereafter.
- Use synthetic motor oil or gear lube for longer transmission life unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise.