I'm going to be talking about the different fluids that you should check on a weekly basis. They are the oil, power steering, radiator, break and windshield washer fluids.
Oil - This is the most important fluid to keep track of. There is a dip stick that you can pull out and it has a series of gauge lines on the bottom of it. What I do first is make sure the car is on level ground. If it's not you won't get a true reading of where the oil is actually at. When you first pull out the dip stick you want to wipe it off with a rag to get it clean then put it back it, wait a few seconds then pull it back out and look at the lines. If the oil level is up close to the top line then you are in good shape. If it's close to the bottom line then you will have to add a little more oil. I usually add about a half a quart of oil if the level is close to the bottom. Double check the level after adding oil to make sure you have added enough. I always pull the oil fill cap off to check for condensation or moisture. You will know if you do because the oil that is on the inside of the cap will look milky. If it looks milky, wipe it off and keep a close eye on it. If it keeps looking milky you may have a more serious problem which will need to be looked at by a mechanic.
Power Steering - There should be a level line on the side of the tank or a dip stick that is attached to the cap. Just check either way and add more fluid if needed.
Radiator - Before trying to check this level make sure that the vehicle's engine is cooled off to prevent excess pressure on the radiator cap. If you happen to open the cap while the coolant is hot there is a good chance that the hot fluid will come spraying out and burn you so make sure it has cooled off before you start. Now there are a couple of different cooling systems that are used in vehicles these days. I call them an open system or a closed system. On the open system you will have a radiator cap and an overflow tank. Remove the cap and look down inside to see if you can visually see the fluid. If you can see it then the system if full, if you can't see it then you will have to add some more coolant to the radiator. If you have to add some coolant you will more than likely have to add some to the overflow tank as well. See when the car is running at operating temperature the pressure inside the cooling system will force the hot excess coolant into the overflow tank and then suck it back out into the radiator as the vehicle cools off. On the overflow tank there should be 2 level marks. One that says cold level and one that says hot level so if the motor is hot it should be up to the hot level and when it is cold it should be at the cold level. You can add fluid to the overflow tank at anytime to get it to the proper level.
Break - When you remove the cap on the break fluid reservoir there is a plunger on the bottom of the cap. If the plunger is out then you will have to add some fluid. There are no level lines so I just fill it up close to the top but not all the way giving the plunger room to go back in with out overflowing the tank. After filling make sure you push the plunger back into position before installing the cap.
Windshield Washer - This is probably the easiest fluid to check and fill. Some of the tanks are in plain sight and some are hidden so all you have to do is open the cap and fill to the top, replace the cap and your done.
Keeping all fluids where they should be is a very good preventative maintenance practice to get into and will prolong the life of your vehicle.
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