A car, like the human body, consists of fluids required to keep it running. Not beer or Jack Daniels as one would think, but water, oil, eye drops for your windscreen and stuff like that. When the car is not running well, it will leak its fluids. Just like a human (where the heck is this going?? I have no idea … but please hop on … we’re going for a ride).
Although wiper and other fluids are vital to keeping your car in top running condition, wiper fluid is more important than you may think. I have been in a situation where my car’s wiper fluid reservoir was bone dry and the semi-truck that splashed muddy water across my windshield while I was doing about 60mph reminded me to get it topped up. Even with wipers, it just spread across my windshield, making it impossible to see. A very touchy situation I put myself in, indeed. So checking wiper and other fluids is imperative to both keeping your car running and your heart beating as well.
There are several areas of your vehicle that require wiper and other fluids to run well. The engine, transmission, radiator/cooling system, air conditioner, wiper fluid, battery and the brake system. If you need tips on how to check and change your engine oil, refer to last week’s blog Car Maintenance: Oil. Transmission fluid should be checked while the engine is running. The dipstick should be located near the oil dipstick, but consult your manual for the precise location. Since the transmission is a sealed system, unlike with engine oil, it should really never be low unless it is leaking. If you see a reddish-brown fluid leak, it’s likely transmission fluid. Then you should take it into your mechanic to get it checked out. If it’s blood, you should be shopping for another get-away car. Checking the radiator/cooling system should always be done with a cooled but not entirely cold engine. The radiator cap should be found toward the front and center of the engine. Or, if it’s a Smart Car, it will be located inside the glove compartment (just kidding…I don’t even know if they have room for a glove compartment). The overflow reservoir should be visible and right next to it. You should be able to see if there is the reservoir is 2/3 full. If it is below, mix 50/50 water and radiator fluid/coolant and pour directly into the radiator until your reservoir reaches 2/3 full. Since the air conditioning system is both costly and difficult for the non-mechanic to deal with, always have your mechanic check it out for you. As far as the battery goes, most newer ones are maintenance free. But, if you have a traditional battery, adding distilled water into the cells from time to time will increase its life expectancy. And, the brake system, like the transmission, is a sealed system. Consult your manual for location of the brake fluid reservoir. It should be 2/3 full. If not, top up to the fill line. If it appears to be leaking, take it into your mechanic to locate the leak.
This reminds me of something an old friend, Tom Ley, told me one of his hispanic landscapers would say when they’d see a pretty girl. “Huy pero qué curvas y yo sin frenos” Translated, meaning “Ah, what curves…and me with no brakes.” How romantic…that should be on a Valentines.
Summed-up … if your garage floor has so many colors of fluids splattered on it that it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, you may need to be looking for another car.
Until next week…
Comedienne / Artist / Writer / Benevolent Thesbo
Car Maintenance: Wiper And Other Fluids – Comedy Defensive Driving