Checking the Fluid Levels on your Vehicle

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Checking the Fluid Levels on your Vehicle



Keeping your vehicle properly maintained is important. Vehicle fluids include brake fluid, engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, and battery fluid. Fluid level information and the location of each fluid reservoir can be found in the owner’s manual for your particular vehicle.


Engine oil should be checked each time the vehicle is refueled. Most engines, but not all, have a dipstick to indicate the oil level. Typically the handle is yellow. You can check the oil yourself, or bring the vehicle in so we can inspect the oil and other fluid levels for you. If you check the oil yourself, make sure to turn off the engine, and then remove the dipstick. You will want to wipe off the end of the dipstick with a paper towel and place it back in. When you take out the dipstick, look at the level at the tip. The stick will have marks on it. The “add” mark typically indicates one quart low. If an engine is leaking oil then the price of repairs can vary depending on which repair is needed and the make and model of the vehicle.


Most other fluids will either have a dipstick, similar to engine oil, or a transparent reservoir. If the fluid is in a transparent reservoir, then there will be marks on the reservoir that indicate the acceptable level of that particular fluid. The major exception is the transmission fluid. The transmission fluid may or may not have a dipstick and it will not be in a transparent reservoir.


The following items are important to remember when checking the other fluids in your vehicle.

  • Low brake fluid indicates a problem that should be checked as soon as possible.
  • Never open the cooling system/radiator cap if the engine is hot.
  • A low coolant level indicates a possible leak, which needs to be checked soon. Adding more coolant will not resolve an overheating problem with the engine.
  • Low power steering fluid is an indication of a leak that should be investigated.


The most common interval for changing oil on modern vehicles is every 5,000 miles. Refer to the owner’s manual for your specific vehicle and for fluids other than the oil. The owner’s manual will have a maintenance chart that every vehicle owner can use to be sure the correct maintenance is performed at the right time. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the vehicle for you.


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