Duration 5-10 minutes
Frequency: See each case below
To keep your vehicle running smoothly, it's important to check fluid levels regularly. Checking fluids only takes a few minutes. Learn how to check oil and other fluids by following the steps below. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest NAPA Auto parts store.
Under normal driving conditions, you should change your oil every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometers. Consult your owner's manual for your vehicle's specific needs.
Park your car on level ground, turn the engine off and remove the keys.
Open the hood of your car and secure it with the prop rod. Locate the dipstick; it's usually labeled "Oil".
Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Return the dipstick to the tube, then remove it again and check the level of motor oil on the stick. If the level is below the minimum indicator, you need to add oil to your car.
Check the color of the oil on the dipstick. Motor oil is usually a light clear fluid but will darken under normal conditions. If the oil is black, it should be changed along with the oil filter. If the oil is light brown and milky, this could indicate a coolant leak into the crank case.
Feel the oil on the dipstick. If the oil feels gritty, change the oil.
Smell the dipstick. If the oil has an odor of gas, it could indicate that the engine, fuel system or ignition system needs to be serviced.
Pull out the transmission fluid dipstick located at the back of the engine near the firewall. Wipe it off, replace it and pull it out again. Check the level against the markings at the bottom of the dipstick. A low level should be addressed immediately with a transmission specialist.
Check the color of the fluid; it should be clear pink. Any darkness means it's time for a fluid and filter change.
Some vehicles no longer have a transmission dipstick and need to be checked by an automotive professional. Check your owner's manual for details. Manual transmissions' oil levels should be checked by a NAPA AUTOPRO Centre when the engine oil is changed.
Check your owner's manual to determine how often you should check your brake fluid. Checking brake fluid once a year is usually sufficient.
Find the vehicle's brake fluid reservoir. They are normally located on top of the engine and are labeled.
Clean the area around the cap with an approved aerosol cleaner before removing the cap. Any particles of dirt that fall in the fluid may result in a costly service.
Open the cap and check the fluid level on the dipstick that is attached to the underside of the cap. If the fluid level is low, have the car serviced at a NAPA AUTOPRO Centre soon. Otherwise, it could lead to a larger problem. Never used old steering or brake fluids. Once opened and exposed to air and moisture, these fluids cannot perform the required functions and can harm the system.
Note: In some older vehicles, you need to check the master cylinder to check the fluid level. The master cylinder is a small metal box with a removable lid.
Coolant should be changed every 50,000 kilometers or every two years as a general rule. Check your owner's manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle.
Locate the coolant reservoir under the hood of the car. See your owner's manual for the exact location. Some cars only have an exposed cap.
Check the fluid level. On the side of the reservoir, there are markings that show fluid levels. If the level of the liquid is low, add more of the proper coolant mix.
Most batteries have a three-to-five-year life span, but they can last longer with maintenance, including checking their fluid level.
Look for the battery's condition indicator, a visible window on the top of the battery that changes color.
Red: Add distilled water
White: Needs charge
Check your owner's manual or label on the battery for further information. The condition indicator should not be the only test done to determine if the battery is serviceable.
If the battery needs more fluid, pour in a little at a time until the level reaches the top of the battery grids. Do not overfill. Always use distilled water, not tap or filtered water, to avoid contamination.