Checking Car Fluids

August 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Heading out on a road trip? Better check your car's fluids first. Consumer Reports says there are five important monthly checks. First the engine oil. Check the level. If it's low, add oil, but never overfill. Next the coolant. It's usually in a clear plastic container. If it's below minimum, fill it up with a 50-50 mix of water and antifreeze.

You also want to check the power-steering fluid. It should be between the minimum and maximum level.

Number four on the list - the brake fluid. In most vehicles the brake fluid is in a clear reservoir marked with minimum and maximum lines. If it's low, fill it and then have the system checked. It could mean there are leaks or the brake pads are wearing.

Last, but definitely not least, the windshield-washer fluid. Keep it full. It's important to keep your windshield clean, especially when there's lots of glare.

You can find the location of the fluid containers in your owner's manual. And while you're at it, Consumer Reports says the transmission fluid is another important fluid to keep track of. It's a bit more involved than the other checks, so again, refer to your owner's manual for this one.

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