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Basic Car Fluids Info

There are many components that make up an automobile, including the different fluids necessary for the car to run properly. The main auto fluids are:

  • Oil
  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid

Oil is a lubricant that keeps the moving parts of an engine moving by reducing internal friction. It is typically a little thicker than cooking oil and a light, golden brown color. However, the color of new oil can vary from clear base oils to black graphite oils.

Automatic transmission fluid functions in two main ways:

1. It creates a smooth ride by creating a hydraulic coupling between the engine and transmission.

2. It eases shifting by using a series of fluid valves to shift gears automatically and lubricates the moving parts. It usually has a red coloring added, but can be dyed any color.

Coolant is located in the radiator; it is a bright green or orange color and is a bit thicker then water. Its purpose is to move the temperature heat extremes in the engine to a radiator where it can be cooled. Most coolants are made up of water with antifreeze.

Antifreeze is toxic; it can contain high levels of chromium, lead, copper, silver and cadmium, so it should be handled as household hazardous waste. It is extremely important not to dump used antifreeze on land or into a ditch, septic system, storm drain, sanitary sewer or dry well, as it can cause serious problems with water quality and has a high potential of harming wildlife, humans and pets. Clean up any spills carefully to keep pets from ingesting it. The sweet smell of the main component (ethylene glycol) attracts animals, but it is a potent nerve toxin and can kill them in very small doses.

Power steering fluid helps make maneuvering vehicles easier by using a hydraulic pump and cylinder to assist the driver. Power steering fluid is usually red, and is similar to (and usually interchangeable with) automatic transmission fluid.

Brake fluid is pumped from the pedal to the brake in order for the car to stop.

Unfortunately, these car fluids are problematic for human health and the environment. Hydraulic fluids typically enter the environment through spills or leaks; it can take more than a year for the components of the fluid to degrade within a natural setting. Three different types of hydraulic fluid currently exist, and their chemical components vary; therefore, the health effects are specific to each variety.

By properly disposing of car fluids, or recycling them, we can avoid the harmful effects of these car components. Call Champ's Auto Repair Service to schedule an appointment to have your fluids checked. If you are in a hurry we’ll provide transportation to your homr or work location and pick you up at the end of the day.