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Do You Know the Difference Between Your Car's Fluids?

Just as your body has blood and other vital fluids running through it to keep you alive, so does your car. Beyond the gasoline you put in, there are several different types of fluids that you'll find in any vehicle. It's important to know what each does and how to identify them in case of leaks. Some fluids and fluid levels are easy for you to check yourself. Others are a bit more tricky and may require the expertise of a professional like San Francisco Automotive Solutions.

Here are some of the common fluids in your car:

1. Motor Oil

Obviously, oil is the most important fluid in your vehicle. It keeps engine parts lubricated. It is easy to check the oil level and consistency with the dipstick. It is typically light brown in color. If you check the dipstick and the oil is very dark brown/black or unusually thick in texture, it is definitely time for an oil change. It could also be the sign of a bigger problem that you may want to get checked out.

2. Transmission Fluid

There is another dipstick under your hood, and that one measures your transmission fluid. The fluid will usually be pink or red in color and should have a very viscous feeling if you touch it. Again, if it appears thick or dark, it could be the sign of a problem. You need your transmission fluid performing properly to keep vital transmission components well lubricated.

3. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid gives power to your brakes and helps you stop your car. So needless to say, it is very important. It is typically light brown or yellowish in color. There is a reservoir for your brake fluid (usually near the back of the engine compartment). The fluid level should always be near the top.

4. Coolant/Radiator Fluid

Your radiator prevents your car from overheating and the coolant/antifreeze/radiator fluid inside is vital for this function. It is usually bright yellow or greenish. You can easily check the radiator fluid level and add more if needed. Just be careful removing the cap if the engine is still warm. If it has a strong burnt smell, you may want to get it checked out or flushed.

5. Power Steering Fluid

Most modern vehicles will have power steering and therefore will require power steering fluid to make the system work properly. You can check the reservoir with a dipstick. The color is typically red, pink or sometimes clear. If it is dark, you should get it checked out.

6. Air Conditioning Coolant

If your car has air conditioning, the coolant (also known as refrigerant or Freon) will generally be very bright in color. Leaks should be very noticeable and you'll want to have a professional deal with it. Air conditioning coolant can be dangerous, so unless you are really knowledgeable and careful you probably won't want anything to do with it.

7. Windshield Washer Fluid

This is not really a vital fluid in your car, but it serves a purpose. Most windshield washer fluid is light blue. The reservoir tank is easy to find and fill under your hood.

If your vehicle is leaking any fluids or you just need routine maintenance to check, flush or refill any of your car's vital fluids, contact San Francisco Automotive Solutions (formerly All American Automotive). We'll be glad to help you out with all of your car's fluid needs. Call us today at (415) 523-0515 or schedule a service appointment online today.


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