A Guide to Checking Your Car's Fluid Levels

George Brown, 7 years ago

5 min read

  • howto
  • Advice
IMG 5334

Your car is a complex machine which is made up of a variety of systems that all work together to move the vehicle.

Cars are designed with incredible skill and ingenuity and are built to last for years, however, the length of time your car remains roadworthy and safe to drive can depend on how well you look after it.

Neglecting basic rules and best driving practices, will seriously affect the health of your car which will deteriorate at a higher rate than usual. One of the most important things to keep a regular eye on, is the level of fluid in your car, as they are naturally depleted as you use your car.

There are a few different types of fluids which your car needs as they are essential for cooling the engine, keeping parts working smoothly and cleaning the car.

If you know that you need a specific car fluid replaced, get oil change quotes now.

Guide Contents:

Engine Oil

Transmission Fluid

Engine Coolant

Power Steering Fluid

Brake Fluid

Windshield Washer Fluid

How to check Engine Oil

Oil-Pouring close up

Engine oil is essential for reducing the build-up of friction between the moving parts in the engine of a car.

There are a huge amount of rotors, pistons and gears which are in constant contact with each other as the car is driving. As these parts are made of metal and move at a high velocity, there is a natural build-up of heat and friction.

This is why engine oil is so important, the oil acts as a lubricant and allows all of the moving parts to spin and operate properly.

A car cannot operate properly without engine oil and will break down if it is deprived.

Want to find out which engine oil would be best for your car? use the Shell Helix oil search tool!

To check the level of engine oil in your car:

  • Locate where the oil is stored by checking your car owner’s manual, the oil can usually be found near the front of the engine and a cap with the word OIL should be obvious to see.

  • Remove the dipstick and unscrew the cap before wiping the excess oil off with a rag.

  • Put the dipstick all the way into the oil and then pull it back out to get your reading.

  • There will be two clear marks on the dipstick, minimum and maximum. if the oil mark is in between the two then your level is ok and you won’t need to replenish.

  • If the oil is below the minimum level, you need to top it up immediately as you will be putting your health at risk as well as the health of the car.

Older cars should be checked more regularly as they will not be able to distribute, or use engine oil as efficiently as new models.

Find A Garage For An Oil Change

How to check Transmission Fluid

There isn’t always an assemble way to reach the transmission oil unless you have a special tool and know where exactly to look. This oil is different to engine oil as it doesn’t need to be topped up as regularly.

This fluid will need to be topped up by a mechanic so make sure to take your car to a professional to have the job done.

Fluid Transmission Change Specialist

How to check Engine Coolant

Engine coolant

To check your engine coolant, make sure the car has been turned off for at least an hour before checking as the fluid may be extremely hot if you check soon after turning the engine off.

The majority of cars have an overflow bottler which will have visible level marking which you will be able to see when you locate it as per the owner’s manual. Make sure the coolant is shown to be in the visible area as if it isn’t it will need to be topped up.

The engine cooling system is absolutely critical for keeping a car engine running and engine coolant is something that it cannot operate successfully without.

Engine coolant can be bought from any motor specialist shop and the instructions will guide you on how to perform the refill properly.

Engine Coolant Replacement

How to check Power Steering Fluid


If your car has power steering then it will be relying on a special type of fluid to assist the power steering system.

Once more, this isn’t really a job that you as a driver should be carrying out as it can be complex.

The fluid is held in a reservoir in the car which a mechanic will be able to easily locate and check if you take it into a garage.

Power Steering Diagnostics & Repair

How to check Brake Fluid


If you have a new car, then you should be able to check the brake fluid levels yourself however if you have an older car, you will likely need a mechanic to carry out the work.

The master cylinder cap is in place to keep all brake fluid securely in place and if you have a new car, you won’t have to remove it to check the fluid.

You will need brake repair if the brake fluid runs out and the cost will be much higher than replacing the brake fluid.

You should be able to see the fluid on the outside of the cylinder and if not, you’ll know that it needs filling up again.

Brake fluid change

How to check Windshield Washer Fluid


To find where the washer is held, consult your owners manual once more. The reservoir will be located in different places from car to car and easy to find in some while difficult to find in others.

You’ll need to refill the window washer every six months as it will run out with regular use.

Your windscreen need to be clean and free of any kind of dirt or residue so you have a perfect view of the road.

All you have to do is locate the reservoir and fill it up all the way to the top, a funnel will make the process easier and reduce the risk of spillage, though this isn’t a major issue as the fluid won’t damage anything that it spills onto.

By keeping all this information in mind, you can extend the life of your car and reduce the likelihood of break down significantly.

If you would like to receive quotes from local garages who can check and replenish your fluid levels, Find A Garage For Car Diagnostics!

Happy Driving!