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Engine oil is the most important fluid in your car, after fuel, perhaps. Sometimes referred to as motor oil, it’s a lubricant needed to let all the components in your engine spin and move at pace smoothly, without causing friction or overheating. Engine oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Over time, it becomes contaminated with dirt which can stop it from working properly.
Engine oil is often confused with transmission fluid. The two perform similar functions, but for different parts of your car. Transmission fluid lubricates your gears and clutches and is part of another system closed off from the engine. Transmission fluid doesn’t see any of the contaminants from fuel burning as engine oil does, so it doesn’t need to be changed as regularly.
Car engine oil is vital for keeping your engine cool and well lubricated. If you're not sure what type of oil your car needs or how to do an oil change, a mechanic can take care of it within about 40 minutes.
DSG stands for direct shift gearbox and is the third type of gear system in addition to a manual or automatic. Cars with a DSG need a specific type of gearbox oil to function effectively.
Brake fluid must be changed roughly every 2 years or 24,000 miles to keep it clean and working effectively. A professional should change your brake fluid because it's a complex job that involves making sure the oxygen in the air doesn't contaminate the fluid.
A vehicle health check is a visual check of your car's components, often carried out for free by a garage in addition to another service or repair. During a vehicle health check, a mechanic will check the different oils and fluids in your car to make sure they’re topped up and doing their job correctly.
Transmission fluid helps keep your gear system cool and allows parts to stay lubricated. Transmission fluid can leak or become contaminated and may need to be replaced to make sure it does its job.
A car’s power steering system includes a network of pumps and fluid that makes steering almost effortless. Over time, your power steering fluid may need to be changed to keep functioning with full effect.
Refrigerant gas in your aircon allows the system to blow cold air. Over time, your refrigerant may need to be replaced to maintain the correct pressure and so keep it working correctly. An air conditioning recharge, also known as an air-con re-gas, involves replacing the refrigerants in the air-conditioning system.
A full service involves up to 67 different checks of the efficiency and performance of your car and its components, followed by a recommendation of any repairs. It usually takes between 3-5 hours and should be carried out once per year. A full service will include checks and top-ups of the different oils and fluids your car needs including engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid.
There are several different oils, fluids, and lubricants your car needs to function smoothly, so understanding the role of each is a helpful way to keep on top of your car maintenance.
Engine oil is the lubricant needed to keep your engine working smoothly. It can be easily located under the bonnet of your car and should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
Transmission fluid is the lubricant that keeps your gear system working smoothly. Unlike engine oil, it only needs to be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
Coolant works alongside engine oil to stop your engine from overheating. It’s sometimes called antifreeze and circulates the system, absorbing the heat from the engine. Your coolant will likely need to be changed every two years.
Brake fluid is also a lubricant that, unsurprisingly, helps to reduce any friction in your braking system. It will also need to be changed on average every two years. Your annual service is the best opportunity to know if it’s time to change your brake fluid.
Power steering fluid is what lets you turn your steering wheel with ease. It’s a hydraulic fluid that gets pumped through the system to help transfer power and allow you to steer with minimal effort. Power steering fluid doesn’t need to be changed very often. However, after around 4+ years, a professional might recommend replacing it with new fluid to keep it working optimally.
Checking your engine oil level is relatively straightforward. Wait until the engine is fully cool after driving, then follow these five steps:
Open the bonnet.
Locate the dipstick near the engine.
Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.
Push the dipstick back into the tube.
Now, remove the dipstick again. The oil streak on the dipstick should sit between the two marks.
If the oil streak sits less than halfway between the two marks, you should top up your engine oil. If the oil feels grainy when you rub it between your fingers, you should book for an oil change.
You can check your transmission fluid in a very similar way. You can find the transmission dipstick behind the engine. If the level is low, be sure to get your transmission fluid looked at as soon as possible.
Checking your engine coolant depends on what type of car you have and is probably better done by a professional at your next service. However, opening your radiator cap to see if the coolant is filled to the top can help.
You can find your brake fluid reservoir next to your engine bay. Visually inspecting the level and colour is the best way to know if it needs a change. Your brake fluid should sit between the minimum and maximum markers and be clear in colour with a slight hint of yellow.
You can also check your power steering fluid by finding the dipstick under your car bonnet. Have a look at the label on the cap to make sure you’re in the right place. Again, it’s essential to make sure the oil streak sits between the markers when you pull it out of the tube.
Two main problems can occur with your engine oil, and it’s important to be aware of them both to avoid risking any damage to your engine. Luckily, if there’s a problem with your engine oil, a warning light on your dashboard will usually appear to let you know about it.
Over time, engine oil can fall below a certain level and will need to be topped up. However, low oil levels can also be a sign of a leak. Check your oil level by using the dipstick in your engine bay, and be sure to top it up if it falls below the minimum marker.
Over time, as you drive and burn engine oil, it picks up impurities and darkens in colour. When this happens, it stops lubricating your engine as well. If you notice grittiness in your engine oil when you rub it between your fingers, it’s time to get it changed.
On average, your transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000-60,000 miles. However, some vehicles will only need a change after 100,000 miles. It’s essential to check your manufacturer’s manual to know when to check and change your transmission fluid.
The most obvious sign that it’s time for a transmission fluid change is if you’re experiencing some trouble changing gears. If you think it’s time, then compare quotes book in for a transmission fluid replacement online.
There are a number of different oils and fluids your car needs to run, and each will need to be maintained to keep them doing their job properly. From top-ups to changes, find out what the average costs are for each service.
|Car repair||Average price||Get quotes|
|Vehicle health check||from £42.05||Get quotes|
|Full service||from £175.95||Get quotes|
|Car engine oil change||from £82.39||Get quotes|
|DSG oil change||from £185.11||Get quotes|
|Brake fluid change||from £56.83||Get quotes|
|Air conditioning recharge||from £65.50||Get quotes|
|Transmission fluid replacement||from £541.66||Get quotes|
Engine oil needs to be changed every 3,000-5,000 miles to keep things working smoothly in your car. However, you may also need to change the transmission fluid, engine coolants, power steering fluid, and brake fluid over time.
Changing oils and fluids in your car is a reasonably inexpensive service. You can get car fluids like engine oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid flushed out and replaced for less than £100.
The type of brake fluid you need will depend on the kind of car you have. Check your car’s manual, or ask a professional to find out which brake fluid you need.
To check your power steering fluid, look under your bonnet and find the dipstick. You can read the level on the dipstick when you pull it out of the tube.
Not all power steering fluids will be compatible with your vehicle, so you should check your car’s manual or ask for the help of a professional to find out which power steering fluid you need.
Engine coolant is sometimes referred to as antifreeze. Engine coolant works to stop your engine from overheating by moving around the system and absorbing the heat.
It’s important to use the correct coolant in your car to make sure it works properly. A professional will tell you which coolant you need for your car model.
Checking your engine coolant depends on what type of car you have. Usually, you should unscrew the radiator cap and see if your engine coolant is filled to the top. However, be careful that you wait until your engine has cooled down, as this can be dangerous with a hot engine!
Engine coolant is crucial for stopping the system from overheating. Your engine works hard to keep your car moving, and as a result, it creates a lot of heat. Engine coolant helps absorb some of this heat and keep things running smoothly.
Over time, sealants can become worn, and oil leaks can occur. Although oil leaks are common, they must be fixed as soon as possible to avoid causing any damage to your engine.