What Kind of Fluids Does My Car Need?

Just like your body needs water and blood, your car needs several important liquids to get you from place to place. Besides gasoline, there are many different fluids that go with various auto internal systems. While mechanics can go in-depth on vehicle fluids all day, we figured it would be best to summarize all the five essential fluids your car needs to run. As a responsible driver, you should know what each one does and how to identify them.

Motor/Engine Oil

Of course, we have to start with the most well-known and important one: engine oil. This type of liquid helps to keep your engine components lubricated and reduces wear and tear. A good driver should keep up with their motor oil regularly by inspecting it using the dipstick. It is typically light brown to dark brown in color, depending on how new it is. Oil changes are normally done anywhere from 3,000 miles to upwards of 12,000 miles; you should always follow your manufacturer's recommended oil type and interval.

Transmission Fluid

This fluid is similar to your engine oil, but instead, it lubricates your transmission parts. It is typically pink or red in color. While this fluid doesn't need as frequent maintenance as oil, you should still check it from time to time for irregular color, texture, and cleanliness. Depending on your vehicle, you can expect to get a transmission flush anywhere between 30,000-100,000 miles.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid powers the brake components and allows for adequate deceleration and stops. Needless to say, it is very important when it comes to your safety. It is typically light brown or yellow in color and has an unpleasant smell. There is a transparent reservoir for your brake fluid, so it should be easy to read its levels. Brake fluid top-offs and flushes are an essential part of maintenance.

Coolant/Radiator Fluid

This fluid is bright in color and has a sweet, syrupy smell. Coolant plays a significant role in preventing your vehicle from overheating. If your coolant is low or has a strong burning smell, you should have it checked out by a professional.

Power Steering Fluid

While some vehicles have electrical power steering, some rely on this fluid to allow smooth and easy turns. The color is typically red, pink, or sometimes even transparent. If it is dark or looks contaminated, you should have it changed out.


If your vehicle is leaking fluid or needs general fluid maintenance, look no further than 26th Street Auto Center.

26th Street Auto Center is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call 26th Street Auto Center (310) 746-4737 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.