What are the Different Fluids Your Car Needs? (and How Often Should You Check Them?)

different fluids your car needs

Your car is like a marathon runner: it needs fluids to keep going. But, how do you know which fluids those are and when to replace or check them? In this post, our mechanics share their top tips on fluid maintenance for your car or truck. 

7 Critical Fluids Your Car Needs

As a car operates, it creates heat. To deal with all the heat, the engine relies on a few essential fluids to lubricate moving parts and keep cool. Here’s a breakdown of seven of those fluids:

1. Engine oil

Engine oil is one of the most critical substances in your car’s engine. Unless you drive an electric car, engine oil lubricates moving parts and keeps engine temperatures within a normal range. If a car runs out of engine oil, it can cause a complete system failure.

When to check it: Check your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific recommendations on when to check and change your oil. As a general rule, we recommend checking the oil at least once a month, or more frequently if your car burns or leaks oil, and changing the oil every 5,000-7,000 miles. 

2. Coolant

As the name indicates, the coolant regulates engine temperature. By absorbing heat and dissipating it through the radiator, coolant prevents excessive heat buildup and keeps the engine safe. 

When to check it: Coolant has a longer lifespan than engine oil and should be changed every 30,000 miles. A mechanic will check your coolant every time you take your car in for an oil change. 

3. Brake fluid

Brake fluid transmits your foot’s force on the brake pedal down to the braking system to stop your car. Over time, brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air and becomes less effective.

When to check it: Brake fluid should be changed at least once every two years and should be checked every 5,000-7,000 miles, or each time you take your car for an oil change. 

4. Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates and cools the moving components in your car’s gear system. It also functions as a hydraulic fluid, allowing the transmission computer to operate individual mechanical parts. 

When to check it: The transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles on a manual transmission and every 60,000 to 100,000 miles on an automatic transmission.

5.  Differential fluid

On four- and rear-wheel drive vehicles, the differential fluid provides cooling and lubrication to the bearings and gears within the differential. 

When to check it: Inspect the fluid during each oil change. Change it every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. 

6. Power steering fluid

Power steering fluid makes it easy to manipulate the steering column, creating that easy turn we all love in our cars. 

When to check it: Check and change power steering fluid about every two years, or 75,000-100,000 miles. 

7. Windshield wiper fluid

Unlike the other fluids on this list, windshield wiper fluid doesn’t serve an essential purpose in your car’s engine or mechanical parts. Instead, it just cleans your windshield glass and makes it easier for you to see in muddy, rainy, or dusty conditions. 

When to check it: Fill it at each oil change and carry a spare jug with you to refill on the go. 

DeBroux Automotive: Professional Maintenance for Your Car or Truck

When you need a team to keep the fluids your car needs at optimal levels, visit DeBroux Automotive. We will check and change your car’s fluids to keep your vehicle running strong.

Contact us today to learn more.