It is simple. You run out of gas…your car stops. But there are other fluids your car uses to run efficiently. Here is a quick look at your car’s vital fluids, what they do, and why it’s important to keep them clean.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is essentially a hydraulic fluid that allows pressure to be magnified. This pressure allows brakes and brake pads to put pressure on the discs to slow and stop a vehicle. The fluid has a high boiling point to withstand the heat caused by friction. Since brake lines are sealed systems, if your brake fluid gets low, it is usually an indication of a leak. Some professionals suggest that brake lines should be bled and new brake fluid put in at least every two years.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is also a hydraulic fluid. It helps you more easily turn your vehicle. As time goes by, your power steering fluid can get contaminated by deteriorating seals. This is a good reason why you should change your power steering fluid at least every two years. Keeping your fluid clean can help protect your power steering pump, which is a much more expensive fix than changing fluid.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Many believe that ATF is an oil. While it has lubricating properties, it is actually a more complicated mixture that provides important protection for your car’s transmission. It contains rust and corrosion inhibitors, gasket conditioners, anti-foam properties and additives to keep it performing its job in a variety of temperatures. Transmission fluid should only be checked with the engine running and it should be changed at about every 100,000 miles.

Coolant/Antifreeze

Today, engine coolant and antifreeze solutions come in one fluid. It serves as an anti-freeze by keeping the fluid liquid even in extreme cold. It serves as a coolant by helping to remove heat from your engine more effectively than just water. Coolant also has lubricating properties that can help keep your radiator cleaner and lasting longer. You should have a complete coolant flush and put in fresh coolant every two years or 50,000 miles.

Oil

Even a properly maintained vehicle produces a lot of heat when running. Oil is critical in keeping your internal parts well lubricated, reducing friction and reducing heat. But one of the major purposes of motor oil is to work as a cleaner, picking up small debris from your engine’s moving parts. When you change your oil you are removing these potentially damaging particles. That is why it is so important you change your oil at least every 7-10 thousand miles.

By checking your fluids, using defensive driving techniques, and avoiding driving while distracted you can go a long way into ensuring safe and smooth travels!