• Ashley Bradish

Fluent in Fluids

Updated: Aug 2

In some of our previous blogs, we discussed the roles of motor oil, refrigerant, and coolant. But those aren't the only fluids your vehicle needs. Each of a vehicle's fluids is essential to its function, but some get overlooked. So here are four more fluids you should know.

Skip to: Transmission Fluid / Power Steering Fluid / Differential Fluid / Windshield Wiper Fluid.

1. Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is the thin and transparent colorful liquid located behind the engine. Your transmission fluid will be green, red, blue, purple, or orange. It will depend on the manufacturer. Transmission fluid is colorful to prevent mistaking it for motor oil and vice versa. The bright colors also make it easier to see a leak.

What does Transmission Fluid do?

Transmission fluid lubricates and cools the parts in the gearbox to prevent grinding. Shifting isn't easy for your car; transmission fluid makes it easier and prevents wear.

Automatic vs. Manual Transmission Fluid

In most cases, an automatic transmission will not have the same fluid as a manual. Many modern manual vehicles will have automatic transmission fluid. Automatic fluid in manuals is becoming more common; it flows better in the cold and creates less drag. Less drag on moving parts allows for more efficiency and power.

Automatic transmission fluid gives friction to the internal components. Likewise, Hydraulic Clutch Fluid produces hydraulic pressure to engage and disengage the clutch.

Manual transmission fluid can never go in an automatic vehicle. But if your car is manual, that does not mean it must take manual transmission fluid. Always read your vehicle's guidebook to know for sure.

So how can I tell if my Transmission Fluid is low?

There are plenty of easy-to-spot signs of low levels.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Puddles- always have leaks and puddles under your car checked by an automotive technician.

  • Trouble shifting- if your vehicle takes longer or makes noise when shifting, it could be low transmission fluid. Look out for slipping, bumps, or revving when you shift gears.

  • Change in color- your transmission fluid should be a clear and light color. If it has become thick and dark, it's time for a transmission flush.

  • Burning smell- a new burning or tart smell can mean something is wrong with your transmission fluid.

  • Excessive noise- a buzz or roar when you speed up and turn corners could be an issue with the transmission or transmission fluid.

  • The dashboard light comes on- if your transmission warning light comes on, have a technician check it out.

If you experience any of these problems, contact Quality Automotive. One of our certified technicians will be happy to solve your problem.

2. Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is usually a light red, pink, or orange. Although, it can also be clear. You can find the power steering fluid supply under the hood, most often on the passenger side.

What does Power Steering Fluid do?

This fluid lubricates the moving parts in the steering system. It can even prevent corrosion in the steering pump.

It is a hydraulic fluid that links the front wheels and steering wheel. This linkage makes it easier to turn the wheels.

Power Steering Fluid Reservoir Canister

When should I change the Power Steering Fluid?

A clear sign to change your power steering fluid is if it is dark and foamy. You should have it replaced around every 50,000 miles or at least every five years.

3. Differential Fluid