We recently had a customer come into Varney Chevrolet the other day who mentioned they paid over $80 for their last oil change – we naturally assumed it was a more expensive synthetic oil change, but it wasn’t! They also mentioned the labor to install the air filter & to check all the fluids were extra cost items! Yikes!
We’ll focus on the ones that you should check most frequently; the engine oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid. Another great first step is to also consult your owners manual. It contains lots of useful information about vehicle maintenance as well as pictures to help you check & top off these fluids. Please make sure the engine is cool when you do these steps.
Since motor oil is the life blood of your engine, let’s start here. When you pop the hood of your car & after consulting your owners manual, you should be able to locate the oil dipstick. This part is just that – a metal stick that slides into a metal tube in the engine with a handle on it. Many dipstick handles are yellow and black in color and say “oil” right on them. When you pull the dipstick out of it’s holding tube, you should see oil on the bottom portion. There will also be the words “full” and “add” on the stick with about an inch of space between them. As long as your oil is above the “add” line – you’re good! If it’s at the “add” line, you need to add a quart of oil. Again, your owners manual will have the info you need as far as the proper type of oil your car needs and how to add it to the engine.
Next – antifreeze. This fluid comes in a variety of colors, however, Varney Value as well as every auto parts store now sells what’s called “Global coolant”. This means you can use that coolant in any year, make or model of vehicle. For ease of simplicity, just use the “pre-mixed” (50% coolant, 50% water) – that way it‘s ready to be added to your vehicle. Takes all the guess work right out of it! While you’ve still got the hood up, you’ll find a plastic tank called a surge (or coolant overflow) tank. It will be up towards the front of the engine, but can be on either the drivers or passenger side. On the side of the tank, there will be the words “cold” and “hot”. The fluid level should line up with one of those words depending if your cars engine is cold or hot. Remember – you’re performing these checks while the engine is cold! If the fluid level is below that line, add your coolant slowly and carefully until your at the proper level.
The windshield washer fluid is perhaps the easiest to check. Like coolant, this fluid comes in a variety of colors, but it’s essentially all the same. This fluid is also in a plastic tank and the cap will most likely have a symbol of a windshield that has fluid being squirted on it. This one you can eyeball – if it’s low, just add some until it’s topped off.