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How Often to Change Car's Oils and Fluids

Posted on 2022-02-14

Changing your car's oil and fluids is an important maintenance process that helps your vehicle  run smoothly. But how often do you need to do it? And what fluids should you be changing?

In this article, you will be given a breakdown of all you need to know about car oils and fluids, when to change them and how you can change them on your own.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about to keep your car in good shape.

Engine Oil

Engine oil can also be called motor oil or engine lubricant. It is a substance made of base oils enhanced with additives, especially anti-wear additives, dispersants and detergents. The main functions of engine oil is to lubricate moving parts in your engine and to clean it from varnish and sludge. Engine plays an important role in your car, so you need to use the oil type specified for your vehicle. Using the wrong oil type can cause damage to the engine. You can visit to learn more about oils and fluids used for your car.

How Often To Change Engine Oil

The rate of changing your engine oil depends on its type, for conventional oils every 3,000 miles, synthetic blend oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, and full synthetic oil every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

How To Change Engine Oil

Step 1: Jack the car up and open the plastic undertray

Note: Avoid using a floor jack alone to lift your car; you should prioritize your safety.

Step 2: Place a drain pan under and open the oil tank to drain out.

Step 3: Unscrew the oil filter (softball-sized cylindrical component) and allow it to drain before replacing it with a new filter.

Step 4: Cover the oil tank and ensure that the filter is placed correctly.

Step 5: Fill the tank with new oil.

Step 6: Check the oil level and also check for leaks.

Transmission Fluid

It is often tricky for the transmission fluid because different vehicles require different TF. So, while attempting to carry out this service, be sure to acquire the correct information to proceed. But before we move to the how and when to drain the transmission fluid, let's understand what TF means.

What is Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is a lubricant usually colored red (sometimes blue), and it is used to lubricate the components of a car's transmission for maximum performance. The essence of coloration is for easy identification. If the transmission fluid is dark and translucent, then the fluid is new. And a darker brick red color is still standard, but when it turns rust or blood red, you should prepare for a service session. A near black or burnt red is a red alert for a quick visit to a service center.

How Often to Change Transmission Fluid

It is always best for you to adhere to the recommendation in the manufacturer's manual. But you can change the transmission fluid every three years or 30,000 miles. Also, you can make use of a lifetime fill around 150,000 miles intervals. It is a healthy recommendation, for manual transmission, you should change the fluid every 3,000-6,000 miles. For automatic transmission, the interval should be 30,000-100,000 miles or 30 months whatever comes first.

How To Change Transmission Fluid

Step 1: Jack or lift the car

Note: Avoid using a floor jack alone to lift your car; you should prioritize your safety.

Step 2: Pop the hood, locate the transmission fluid cap and remove it.

Step 3: Find the transmission fluid pan under your car.

Step 4: Put the drain pan under the fluid pan.

Step 5: Remove the transmission pan's bolt with a socket wrench.

Step 6: Drain off all the fluid from the transmission.

Step 7: Screw the pan's bolt.

Step 8: Pour the recommended amount of transmission fluid into the car using a funnel.

Step 9: Place the cap back on.

Engine Coolant

The engine is the power source of cars, and due to constant usage it gets extremely hot overtime. If the engine is not properly protected, it can melt and wear down which requires lots of money to replace. And the protector that prevents this from happening is called coolant.

 What Is Engine Coolant

Car coolant is also called antifreeze. It helps protect engines from overheating in hot or warm temperatures and lubricating the parts they contact, like the water pump, cylinder, piston timing, and head gasket. 

In cold temperatures, the mixture of the coolant helps prevent the coolant from freezing. So, it can continue to keep the engine cool. The coolant is mixed in a way that it does not boil in hot weather or does not freeze in cold weather.

How Often To Change coolant

Conventionally, the coolant system is flushed every 50,000 miles. While some newer car versions may require flushing of the coolant every 10,000 miles.

This can be determined by an inexpensive kit when changing the engine oil. The pH change observed will determine if the coolant is due for a change or not. Also, you can check the recommended years or miles specified by the manufacturer. 

How To Change Coolant

Step 1: Ensure that the handbrake is applied and that the engine is cold. Then place the car in first gear.

Important Note: Do not open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

Step 2: Carefully raise the front of the car with a jack.

Step 3: Place chokes on the back wheels

Step 4: Remove the underbody shield

Step 5: Place the drain pan under the radiator and unscrew the drain valve.

Step 6: Flush the system continuously until it is completely drained.

Step 7: Remove the reserve tank, drain it, and put it back in place.

Step 8: Change the drain valve. 

Step 9: Refill the system with the proper antifreeze to the base of the filler neck.

Step 10: Run the engine briefly, top with coolant. Replace the radiator cap and run the engine until the cooling fan turns on. Finally, check the topping level as specified.

Brake Fluid

The brake fluid is another essential fluid in a car that needs to be changed to prevent the brake from damaging. 

What Is Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is a kind of hydraulic fluid that helps transfer force into pressure, amplifying braking force. It is responsible for bringing the car to a stop when you step on the brakes.

How Often To Change Brake Fluid

The rule of thumb for changing brake fluid for track vehicles is every three years, while regular cars are every two years. And do well to visit the manufacturer’s manual for your car’s specific recommendation to change the brake fluid.

 How To Change Brake Fluid

Step 1: Check the cap of the master cylinder to get the suitable brake fluid.

Step 2: Remove the wheels of the car.

Step 3: Using a turkey baster, suck out the brake fluid from the master cylinder.

Step 4: Pour in new brake fluid.

Step 5: Remove the rubber cap at the back.

Step 6: Attach a bottle with some tubing where you just removed the cap.

Step 7: Pump the liquid into the brake pedals until it runs clear.

Step 8: Put back the cap and add the brake fluid.

Step 9: Repeat for all the brakes to change the fluid.

Power Steering Fluid

This is an essential fluid that helps keep cars and trucks running. It allows the easy turning of the steering wheel.

What is Power Steering Fluid

The power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that permits power transmission in a power steering system. It works by pressure which decreases the effort required to steer the wheel.

How Often To Change Power Steering Fluid

Modern cars with new-fangled electric steering systems do not require changing the power steering fluid. The rate at which the power steering oil is changed is once every three years or 30,000 miles. But, it is best to adhere to the recommendation from the manufacturer contained in the manual.

How To Change Power Steering Fluid

Step 1: Use a jack to lift the front of your car

Step 2: Drain out the fluid in the power steering reservoir

Step 3: Continue draining the system after disconnecting the oil return hose

Step 4: Use fresh fluid to flush the system

Step 5: Reconnect the return line properly.

Step 6: Top off the fluid

Step 7: Check for possible leaks

Step 8: Lower the car and test drive it. 

Windshield Washer Fluid 

The windshield washer fluid is essential for your car. It comes in handy mainly in the winter to give you a clear view while driving.

What Is Windshield Washer Fluid

This lubricant is the fluid cars use to clear their window with the help of the wiper. It can also be referred to as wiper fluid.

How Often To Change Windshield Washer Fluid

To refill the windshield washer fluid, you will get a notification light or message to indicate the washer fluid is low. But if your car does not have an indicator, you will know when the fluid does not come out a few seconds after activating it. Then the next step is to refill the reservoir.

How To Change Windshield Washer Fluid

Step 1: Open the hood of your car

Step 2: Locate the windshield washer reservoir cap. It could be a screw-on or press-on cap with an image depicting water spraying.

Step 3: Unscrew it or pull the cap up.

Step 4: Fill up the washer fluid reservoir to the full mark.

Step 5: Screw back the cap or press the washer reservoir cap to fit correctly.

Step 6: Close the hood of your car.

Final Words

Car maintenance requires a lot of things to be considered due to their impact on the car's life span. It becomes necessary to carry out proper checkups. 

Ensure that all maintenance guides are observed and duly followed. Some of the required skill sets have been revealed in this article to change engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Always check out for the fluids in your car to keep it in good shape. Learn more about car maintenance tips.