Here's how to check your car's fluid levels in 5 easy steps

<B>SAVE YOURSELF FROM A HEFTY REPAIR BILL:</B> Watch our video and be sure to check your vehicle's fluid levels to avoid a nasty repair bill. <I>Image: News24</I>
<B>SAVE YOURSELF FROM A HEFTY REPAIR BILL:</B> Watch our video and be sure to check your vehicle's fluid levels to avoid a nasty repair bill. <I>Image: News24</I>

Cape Town - Power-steering fluid, oil, radiator water... There are several liquid levels that need to be checked often in your vehicle. These checks are vital if you own a vehicle older than 2010.

A friend of mine's car suffered an engine failure in her older vehicle. I asked whether she had checked her car's oil and/or water prior to the breakdown. Her response: "Was I supposed to check that? Don't the service guys do it for you? Where would I even check those things?"

Regularly checking your vehicle's fluid could save you from a hefty repair bill.

Warning signs

The majority of cars on local roads require regular inspection opposed to "new", more modern vehicles only requiring fluid checks and top-ups when being serviced at an approved dealer or workshop. Sufficient warning lights will notify the driver of potential hazards, albeit when the problem is at its worst. For example, if you're forgotten to top up your water levels, the engine will overheat and by the time the appropriate light switches on it might be too late.

Checking your car's fluid levels is critical to avoid engine damage and ensure your car runs efficiently.

Here are some basic fluid checks you can perform on your car:

1 Find the lever, or button, to open your car's bonnet to access the engine bay.

2 Checking your oil level

Usually there is a yellow, red, or brightly-coloured loop which looks like a little handle. It's usually near the front of the engine bay or on either the right, or left side of the car. It will be attached to a thin, long tube. Have a cloth handy and remove the dipstick from the vehicle. Wipe the dipstick clean, insert and remove again. You will see a wet mark along the stick. Ensure that the mark is on the same level as the reverse side of the stick. If the level is the same, that will indicate how much engine oil is currently in your car.

3 Power-steering fluid

The power-steering bottle will have minimum/maximum indicators. Make sure that the power-steering fluid is always between those two levels, and not too high or too low. 

4 Radiator coolant

Next up is the radiator coolant level. When checking this fluid level, do not open the coolant or radiator cover when the engine temperature is high (i.e you've recently driven your car). Once it's cooled down, remove the coolant cap and check if its on the minimum or maximum level, then fill-up accordingly.

5 Window washer

Last is the window washer bottle. This usually has a sign that looks akin to tiny water fountain. Flip the top open. Some vehicles are equipped with a dipstick to mark the water level. If not, just fill the bottle with water until the fluid nears the top.

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