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Engine Coolant level
It is important to regularly check and top up your cars fluid levels. In most cases you will have to check your engine coolant, engine oil level, brake fluid, wiper washer fluid, power steering fluid there may be more for example automatic transition fluid if your car has an automatic gearbox.

Topping up car fluid levels

The above diagram is simple an example of the various locations of the different top up and check locations. It will vary from make to make and model to model. The example I have used is a Ford Focus.

Check engine coolant level
Most coolant tanks have a Max and Min mark on the tank it's self. You can visually check the level by looking to see where the fluid level is in comparison to the markings. This can be done more accurately when the engine is cold. This is because water expands when it hearts up and will give a slightly higher reading due to this. If the level is below the Min then you will need to top the level up.

Do not open the coolant water cap when the engine is hot, this can result in serious personal injury!

Only open the coolant cap when the engine has had time to cool down or when the engine is cold. Because the coolant system is pressurized the fluid will not boil. When you remove the cap the pressure is released, the coolant can then boil and pour out of the tank at high pressure. This is extremely dangerous. Always let the coolant system cool down before opening the expansion tank.

Once open pour a mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze into the expansion tank until it reached midway between Max and Min. Always mix your water and antifreeze in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. The mixture not only prevents the coolant from freezing in the winter, it assists the cooling action in the summer.

Once you have topped up your coolant level it makes sense to check it the following day, sometimes the level will drop a little because of air-locks in the system ect. Top up once again if required. You should check your cooling system fluid at least once a week.

If you find you are having to top up your coolant very regularly it is possible you may have a leak or engine problem. Leaks can occur at any pipe in the cooling system and also at the radiator. Certain engine problems can also cause you to loose coolant such as blown cylinder head gasket. In this case I would expect to see traces of oil mixed with the coolant, although this is not always so. If you believe you are using excessive coolant have the problem looking into by a garage of competent mechanic.

Screen wash
The screen wash is the water bottle that contains the water that is sprayed onto the windscreen to clear away debris or dirt. This should be topped up with a mixture of water and screen wash. Refer to your products mixing instructions to get  correct mixture. Check this level at least once a week.

Brake fluid level
Low brake fluid can be very dangerous. Car braking systems are hydraulic, they use fluid under pressure to operate the brake wheel units. Fluid cannot be compressed so the brake fluid under pressure will actuate the braking system. If the fluid level drops far enough to draw air in then the system will not function correctly. Air can be compressed, air in the braking system will lead to a spongy brake pedal and lower braking performance.

The brake fluid reservoir will be located under the bonnet, usually on top of the brake master cylinder. The master cylinder is the first hydraulic component of the braking system. The master cylinder applies the pressure to the fluid within the hydraulic system.

The fluid reservoir it's self will have a Max and Min marker on it. Use the correct type of brake fluid according to your manufacturers hand book to top the level up to between the Max and Min level. If you find you are having to top the brake fluid up often you may have a braking system leak. If in doubt have it look over at your garage.

Checking engine oil level
In order to check your engine oil ensure that the engine is cold and the car is parked on a level surface. Nearly all car engines are fitted with a dip stick. The dip stick is used to take a measurement from within in the engine and record the level of engine oil within.

To check the oil level first locate and remove the dip stick from the engine. Clean the end of the dip stick where the reading will be taken. This is usually marked with a Max and Min level. Once the dip stick is clean and free of oil insert it fully back into it's position in the engine assembly. After a couple of seconds pull it back out and hold the reading area level. The oil should have left a mark on the dip stick to tell you how much oil is contained. If the engine oil is low top it up with an oil that is suitable for your car. You should be able to locate information about suitable types of oil in your vehicles handbook.

If you are unsure have it checked by a garage. To little or to much oil can be harmful for your engine.

Power steering fluid
Power steering fluid is a hydraulic oil that us used to hydraulically assist your steering system. The power steering fluid reservoir is usually located under the bonnet, please consult your owners manual for a more detailed location. In most cases the cap on the reservoirs will have a picture of a steering wheel.

The power steering fluid level can be checked on two ways, depending on the type of system your vehicle uses. Some will have a visible Max/Min on the side of the tank allowing you to visually see the level, others will have a small dip stick attached to the cap that will allow you to clean , re-insert and check the level. If our level is down then top it up to the correct level using the correct power steering fluid for your vehicle. More information about suitable power steering fluid will be available in your car handbook.

If you are having to top up your fluid regularly there may be a leak in your power steering system. This could be a pipe or in some cases the power steering rack it's self. In either case you should have it checked out by a garage or competent mechanic.



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