How To Check Your Car’s Fluids: What Do I Need To Check?

Image
AutoTrader NZ
Author
Published 3 September 2020

It can be confusing which fluid to check in your car, with so many things under the bonnet. Regularly checking your car’s fluids is essential for ensuring safety, performance, and longevity to get from A to B with no issues.

Check out our blog below to find out which fluids you should check and where to check them on your car.

Engine Oil:


Check with the engine cool. Park on level ground, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert it, and check the level. It should be between “min” and “max”. Golden brown is good; dark usually means it’s time for a change.” It is recommended it be closer to the “max” level.

Top Tip: Golden brown is good; dark usually means it’s time for a change.

Coolant:


Ensure the engine is cool. Locate the reservoir, and check that the fluid is between “min” and “max”. Top up if needed with the correct mix of water and coolant. It is recommended it be closer to the “max” level.

Top Tip: Make sure you use the correct colour coolant. A typical coolant mix is a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant.

Brake Fluid:


Find the reservoir near the back of the engine bay. Ensure fluid is between “min” and “max”. It should be clear or slightly yellow. Dark fluid usually means it needs replacing. It is recommended it be closer to the “max” level.

Top Tip: Your fluid should be clear or slightly yellow. Dark fluid usually indicates old oil that needs replacing.

Transmission Fluid:


Check when the engine is warm. Leave the car running, pull out the dipstick, wipe clean, reinsert, and check the level. It should be pinkish-red. Dark fluid usually means it needs changing.

Top Tip: The transmission dipstick usually has a gear shape on the top of the dipstick to indicate the gearbox. if your car is a manual or is a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) it might not have a dipstick to check.

Power Steering Fluid:


Locate the reservoir with the steering wheel icon. Ensure fluid is between “min” and “max” and clear or slightly amber. Dark fluid usually means it needs replacing. It is recommended it be closer to the “max” level.

Top Tip: Dark brown fluid usually means it needs replacing. The reservoir cap often says “power steering fluid.”

To help you remember what to check off, see our checklist below.

ComponentStepsTop Tip
Engine OilCheck when it’s cool. The level should be between “min” and “max”, closer to “max”.Golden brown is good; dark means change.
CoolantCheck when it’s cool. The level should be between “min” and “max”, closer to “max”.Check when it’s cool. Level should be between “min” and “max”, closer to “max”.
Brake FluidFluid should be between “min” and “max”, closer to “max”. Clear or slightly yellow is good.Dark means change.
Transmission FluidCheck when the car is on. Level should be between “min” and “max”. Pinkish-red in colour.Gear shape dipstick. Manual/DCT cars might not have one.
Power Steering FluidFluid should be between “min” and “max”, closer to “max”. Clear or slightly amber is good.Dark means change. Cap often says “power steering fluid.”
Car fluid checklist

Regular checks keep your car running smoothly. Use the right fluids and seek professional help if needed. If. Automotive centres such as VINZ or your local garage can check over your car if in doubt.

Happy driving!

If you are buying a car and want a comprehensive buyer guide, check out our blog below.