Things to Know About Checking the Fluids in Your Vehicle

You can get a great picture of the health of your vehicle just by checking the fluids periodically. But how? Do you need special tools or insider knowledge? Other than a few simple tools that can help you to know the condition of the fluid itself, you can check the level and color of your car's vital fluids like engine oil, coolant and power steering fluid with just a quick visual inspection. If something isn't right, you can get the correct fluid and top the system off yourself, or seek the help of our factory-trained technicians for a long-term repair. We want you to have all the info you need to properly care for your Subaru at Subaru of San Bernardino.

Learn how to quickly check your vehicle's important fluids!

1 - How to Check your Engine Oil

Checking your engine oil between oil changes is a good idea because it helps you to know if your engine is leaking or burning any oil, which would slowly lower the oil level over time.

To check your engine oil, park on a level surface. You'll get an accurate reading if the engine is cold and off. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean first -- otherwise oil splash on the dipstick from the engine running could give you a false reading. Then, insert the dipstick all the way, and remove it. If the oil level is between the two indicator lines, you're all set! If it's a little low, you may need to top the engine off with oil between service appointments. You may also have an oil leak that should be sealed up by the service pros at your nearest Subaru authorized dealership.

Replace low fluids with only genuine Subaru parts, fluids, and chemicals.

2 - How to Check your Coolant

First, a word of caution: Do not attempt to check your coolant when the engine is hot. Removing the radiator cap if the engine is still warm could result in a spurt of boiling-hot fluid spraying from the engine, which could badly burn you.

Once the engine is cooled, you can take a look under the radiator cap. The coolant should be filled to the top of the radiator. Most vehicles are also equipped with an overflow tank that shows the coolant level. If it's low, you may want to top off the system periodically and have a professional search the system for leaks. You can also test the coolant itself to see if it needs to be flushed and refilled, but this will require tools like a hydrometer or PH testing strips.

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3 - How to Check your Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is generally maintenance-free, but it should be checked once in a while if your car is a little older.

You see, brake fluid is what's called, "hygroscopic" -- that is, it absorbs water from the atmosphere. As more and more water gets into the system, the water could reduce brake performance or corrode the system. However, this process generally takes many years. A small device called a brake fluid moisture tester can be inserted into the brake fluid reservoir. It tests for the presence of water, and alerts you if there's too much water in the system. If not, just pop the brake fluid reservoir cap back on and be on your way. That's all it takes. If water is indeed present in the system, a professional mechanic will need to bleed the brake lines and flush the system before filling it with new brake fluid.

4 - How to Check your Power Steering Fluid

Depending on the car, you may have a dipstick to check the power steering level, or you may have a translucent reservoir. If the reservoir is see-through, you can see the level of the power steering fluid easily. Just make sure the level is up to the fill line printed on the reservoir itself.

Other cars have a power steering fluid dipstick integrated into the reservoir cap. Just follow the same procedure that we mentioned above for checking the oil. If the level is low, it can be topped off with the recommended fluid. Just consult your owner's manual, or check to see if the required fluid is printed on the reservoir cap.

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Subaru of San Bernardino

645 Auto Center Dr
Directions San Bernardino, CA 92408

  • Sales: 909-888-8686
  • Service: 909-571-5305
  • Parts: 909-571-5397
  1. Subaru of San Bernardino

    645 Auto Center Dr
    San Bernardino, CA 92408

    • Sales: (877) 501-8065

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