How To: Check and Fill Your Vehicle’s Fluids

How To: Check and Fill Your Vehicle’s Fluids

[Mechanical SFX] Hey everybody. Jeremy here from O’Reilly Auto Parts to talk to you about how to check and fill
your vehicle’s fluids. Checking fluids on a regular basis is an easy way to help
ensure the longevity and reliability of your vehicle. Most owner’s manuals will show you where these fluids are located under the hood
as well as recommending specific fluid types and service intervals. As always if
you’re not completely comfortable doing this yourself we’d be happy to recommend a professional technician in your area. Let’s start by looking at engine oil.
Besides fuel it’s probably the most important fluid in your vehicle. Motor
oil lubricates engine components and keeps everything going smoothly. It’s a
good idea to check it once a month or more often if you suspect a leak or
another issue. Your vehicle’s manufacturer will specify the
recommended oil weight and change service interval for your vehicle. Make sure your
vehicle is turned off and sitting on level ground. Let it sit for at least 30
seconds before checking the oil level. Most vehicles have a dipstick under the
hood that you’ll use to check the level of the oil. Once you find the dipstick,
slide it out and wipe the excess oil off the end with a shop towel. You should see
markings or other indicators on the dipstick for minimum and maximum oil
levels. After wiping off the excess oil, reinsert the dipstick all the way then
pull it back out to see what the oil level is. The oil should be reading close
to the maximum marking. If it’s a little low, add oil carefully to top it off. A
funnel is helpful when you’re doing this. Make sure you’re adding where the oil
fill cap is removed not the dipstick. Add a few ounces at a time and recheck
it to make sure you don’t overfill it. If your level is at or below the minimum
mark it’s important to add oil immediately. This could be an indication
that your vehicle is leaking or burning oil. You should seek the help of a
professional to prevent further damage. Also take note of the texture or color
of the oil. Get some between your fingers. It should be slick and smooth and a
yellow or amber color. Grittiness or particles in the oil can indicate that
components are wearing down which is a major issue. If you notice a milky color, check to see if there’s any condensation on the
inside of the cap. If there is, it could be an indication of moisture that hasn’t
been burned off, but it could also mean that coolant is leaking into the engine
oil which is a more serious situation. Other indications of this can be
brownish coloration in the coolant reservoir or white smoke from the
exhaust. If any of those symptoms are present you should have your vehicle
towed to a shop to avoid damage to your engine. An engine produces a lot of heat
and your coolant, also known as antifreeze, is what keeps things cool. It
does this by absorbing engine heat and allowing it to dissipate through the
radiator which keeps your vehicle from overheating. It’s recommended you check
your coolant level with each oil change. Always wait for your engine to cool
completely before checking coolant. Two to three hours is safe if you’ve
been driving even though some reservoirs will give an accurate reading whether
the coolant is hot or cold. Pressurized coolant can spray and cause burns. To
check the level, you’ll usually see a tank that has minimum and maximum marks on it also. Take off the radiator cap to make sure it’s filled to the top. Only
add coolant that specifically approved by your vehicle’s manufacturer and if
you suspect a leak have your vehicle diagnosed by a professional as soon as
possible. In most cases a necessary element of
steering is power steering fluid. Although there are some vehicles that
have electrically assisted steering that requires no fluid, it’s a good idea to
check your power steering fluid at every oil change and change it as often as
specified by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Similar to other fluids, you usually find
a reservoir or dipstick in the engine bay. Check the reservoir or remove the
dipstick to check the reading and top it off if necessary. To avoid causing damage, only use the type of power steering fluid specified by your vehicle’s
manufacturer. If this fluid is something you’re happening to add regularly you
probably have a leak. Have the problem looked at by our professional
technicians to avoid steering problems and safety issues. Vehicle brakes are
hydraulic which means they require fluid to function properly. Outside of any
brake issues, it’s beneficial to check your brake
fluid level at every oil change. Most vehicles have a brake fluid reservoir
under the hood. Sometimes under a plastic cover near the bottom of the windshield.
Just make sure the level falls between the marks for minimum and maximum. Also, if you can’t see through the fluid, if it’s dark or cloudy, it needs to be
replaced. If you’re adding to the reservoir, be sure only to use the brake
fluid specified by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If your vehicle has a
manual transmission with a hydraulic clutch. You’ll want to check the clutch
fluid level at each oil change. Your clutch fluid reservoir is typically
located near the brake master cylinder toward the back of the engine bay.
Specific locations should be in your owners manual. The fluid level should fall
between the markings for minimum and maximum levels. Some older vehicles may have metal reservoirs that require you to remove the cap to see the level.
Hydraulic clutches use the same type of fluid as hydraulic brake systems, so if
you do need to add fluid only add fluid that meets the d-o-t specification
recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. In our case, no additional
fluid is needed. Transmission fluid serves to cool and lubricate components
like gears, clutches and valves inside your transmission. Some vehicles come
with transmission fluid that isn’t intended to be changed. Other vehicles
will recommend changing the fluid every thirty thousand to a hundred thousand
miles. But, if you’re having transmission issues like rough shifting or surging
start by checking the fluid. In some cases you’ll find a dipstick others will
require a professional technician. Always follow the procedures specified by your
vehicle’s manufacturer for checking transmission fluid. If your vehicle has a
dipstick the process will be similar to how you’ve checked other fluids but
there are a few differences when you check the transmission fluid level.
You’ll want to have your engine turned on and transmission in park or neutral
depending on the vehicle. Setting your emergency brake and chalking your wheels is a good idea for this procedure. But before checking the dipstick, put your
foot on the brake and use your gear selector to cycle through all the gears
with the vehicle idling. This will allow a more accurate
reading. The fluid should feel smooth and be amber or red in color. Fluid that’s
dark cloudy or gritty indicates a problem that requires professional
attention. If you need to add transmission fluid, use a funnel to pour
a small amount into the fill tube. In most cases, topping off this fluid won’t
require more than a pint so add a small amount at a time. It’s very important not
to spill any outside the tube. Transmission fluid can ignite if it
makes contact with the hot manifold. Make sure only to use the transmission fluid types specified by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Put your foot on the brake
and cycle through all the gears again. Recheck the dipstick to make sure the
fluid is at the right level. Make sure when you’re done to replace the dipstick
securely. Some will latch or lock into place. Even though it isn’t necessary to
your vehicle’s performance, windsheild washer fluid is an important part of
driving safely and it’s probably the easiest fluid to maintain. There are
several varieties to choose from. Freeze protection for cold weather, bug wash for
summer, or all season for year-round visibility. The reservoir should be easy
to find and all you have to do is pour fluid in until it’s full. Most vehicles
will only have one reservoir even if there’s a rear wiper but in some cases
you’ll find a washer fluid reservoir in the rear also. And that’s it.
You’ll find everything you need for this and other jobs at your local O’Reilly
Auto Parts Store or Our DIY videos are designed to help answer questions that we get in our stores every day. If you found this one helpful subscribe to our channel to get all the latest. We’ll see you again soon.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Oil weight? You mean oil viscosity. The w in the oil viscosity rating such as 5w-30 stands for winter rating not weight. O'Reilly should know this by now.

  2. Honda Accord 03-07 Trans Fluid check Hot but not while engine running. Follow this videos nstructions and measurement will be high (inches!) Verify this in your manual.

  3. How can I trust this video when you guys can’t even hold the oil bottle right. It’s designed to be held in the complete opposite way you are holding it. You can actually turn that container in any other direction and pour it better than you are in the video.

  4. Would someone please slap this dude and then tell him the proper way to pronounce "vehicle"? His mispronunciation of it was like a jab in my eye every time he says it ..

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