Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knowing the Blood and Lifeline of your Car’s System - Brake, Power Steering, Battery and Radiator Coolant Fluids

Now that you’ve known the other car care basics, perhaps it’s time we take a look at the fluid essentials that are literally the life giving blood of your car.

1. Brake Fluid- Is a type of hydraulic fluid that is used in hydraulic brake applications of your car, motorcycles and trucks. This type of fluid is used to transfer force under pressure from its point of origin among hydraulic lines to the braking mechanism close to the wheels.

Most brake fluids today are composed of glycol-ether but several types with mineral oil and silicone composites are also out in the market. This type of fluid should meet stringent requirements set by organizations such as SAE and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) - hence you get ratings on labels such as SAE or DOT 3 and 4 compliance.

As a rule of thumb, brake fluid should always be replenished if the levels in its container decrease with every drive. Fluid level in the master cyclinder will drop as the linings, brake pads and shoes wear and the calipers extend further to compensate. Brake fluid level may also be low because of leaking, which can lead to loss of hydraulic pressure and the most dangerous- brake loss.

It is very important to constantly monitor your brake fluid levels to ensure safe driving and fill according to the set level. Flush and change your brake fluid every 1-2 years to further ensure reliability and take note to never mix brake fluids with different DOT ratings as this can result to poor fluid performance.

2. Power Steering – Is another type of hydraulic fluid that transmits the power steering system of cars, trucks and other modes of transportation.
This is the fluid that guards your power-steering pump and rack from wear and tear. It requires constant monitoring and refilling from time to time according to the required level in its cylinder.

A way to notice that your steering system is about to have a problem or that your power steering fluid is running low is when you turn the steering wheel and you hear whining noises. Have your car checked when this occurs to prevent serious damages to your power- steering system.

Note: There are products out in the market today that contain the combined properties of Power Steering and Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF). Use any of these products to save and be protected more.

3. Battery Fluid- Is the electrolyte fluid found inside the cells of your battery. If you are using the regular type of battery and not the maintenance free one, then you are required to refill your battery cells from time to time with electrolyte fluid.

Standard battery for cars is 12V and usually has 6 individual cells inside it. To refill, simply remove the vent caps that can either be found on top or on the sides of the battery. Check and fill the electrolyte fluid inside.

Note: There are some brands of maintenance free batteries out in the market today that can run on dual power- meaning they also have vent caps for electrolyte fluids in case their power supply run out. Although this type of battery may not come cheap, it would be best for you to use it.

4. Radiator Coolant- Is a mixture of anti-freeze fluid and water designed to protect the radiator and cooling system all year round. Using one will protect your engine from overheating. Most coolant products out in the market today come with various additives that can further help you against rust and other forms of corrosion, lubricate or increase the cooling efficiency of your cooling system.

Simply pour out the contents of your coolant to the radiator reservoir. Add water to the set level and you’re done.

For maintenance, it is very important for you to drain and flush your coolant once a year (or depending on the product recommendations) and replace it with a new one.

Note: Never mix different types of coolant together as this can lead to damage or a reduction of your car’s cooling system. Before changing to another brand, be sure to drain and flush your cooling system of the old one.

See to it that the reservoirs of these fluids are in constant levels and refill when they’re not enough. Properly maintaining them will help ensure your safety and prolong the life of your car.

Buckle up and drive safely.



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1 comment:

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