While it is important to always maintain these levels, you specifically want to make sure that prior to long trips you take care of this maintenance task. There are seven areas in your car that need liquid to survive: window washer, air conditioner, engine, radiator, battery, brakes and transmission. Let's take a quick look at each one and ensure that your car stays on the road.
Window Washer-This is probably the easiest of all tasks with the reservoir being located in the rear of the engine compartment. If you're having trouble locating it, consult your owner's manual. Most newer automobiles will have a warning light that comes on indicating that it needs to be filled. You may want to add a little bit of Windex to improve the cleaning capabilities of your washers. You'll find this useful tip when dealing with bugs and road salt, as it will remove them from your windshield easier.
Air Conditioner-While this is an area that needs to be checked, it is not usually something the armchair mechanic can handle. While it is important to check this fluid level, this is a task that you should trust to a certified mechanic that specializes in air conditioning.
Engine-For an automobile, oil is the equivalent of blood. Without oil, your engine would lock up and become completely useless. The procedure itself is quite simple. Take your automobile out for a quick ride and find a nice spot to let it cool down for about five minutes. This will give the oil needed time to settle into the sump. Open your hood and find the dipstick, it will be located in the front of the engine and usually has a distinctive handle. Remove the dipstick and wipe it down and then reinsert it in the reservoir. If the level is low add a quart and re-check it. Repeat the process until you have an acceptable level. Do not overfill it as this will lead to problems.
Radiator-This is a process that you want to do when the engine is luke warm, not cold. Also make note at the radiator should never be checked while the car is on. The radiator cap is easy to locate as it is in the center of the engine compartment. Be careful and use a rag to remove it. Simply look down and see if the fluid is at a high level. If its near the top your fine if not you're going to have to add some fluid. The mix for engine coolant is 50% water and 50% coolant. You are also going to want to check the coolant reservoir. This is a plastic reservoir on the side of the radiator with a hose that connects it. This should be filled about two thirds of the way.
Battery-If you have a maintenance free battery, this is a simple task as you need do nothing. However, if you have a standard battery, the cells will need refilling. The cells will either screw off or be pried off with a flat screwdriver. This should be filled with distilled water. Caution should be used when filling a battery, as it contains sulfuric acid. Use the necessary precautions.
Brakes-Locate the brake fluid reservoir, it is usually in the engine compartment. Take off the lid and check the level. It is not at least two thirds full replenish it to the full line with brake fluid. If this is a consistent problem, you may want to have a mechanic look at it.
Transmission-for an automatic transmission, the dipstick is usually located behind the oil stick at a lower level. When checking this fluid, your automobile should be on and running. This is a sealed system, therefore, if you're fluid is low is probably an indication of a leak. This will be easily confirmed by an oil like stain underneath your automobile. If the fluid is very dark or black, this is a sign that it needs to be changed.
As you can see, checking all of these should take no time at all. However, the few minutes that you do spend maintaining your automobile's fluid levels will save you lots of money and prolong the life of your car.
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Article Added on Thursday, October 8, 2009
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