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Car Fluid Types and Maintenance Schedule from Graff Chevrolet in Durand, MI

There are different fluids that run through your vehicle that facilitate its efficiency, performance, and functionality, assuming they are maintained on a regular basis. These vehicle fluids include engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and washer fluid. Each of these fluids must be routinely inspected, maintained, flushed, and changed in order to extend the life of your vehicle and keep it running smoothly. Keeping up with routine maintenance like vehicle fluid inspections and replacement is especially important if you are driving a used vehicle. This will allow you to maintain its quality for years to come. Below we’ll break down each car fluid type, the purpose of the fluid, and the maintenance schedule for when to check or replace each fluid. Feel free to explore our FAQs page for more car care topics and answers to your routine maintenance questions!


Oil Changes
The oil in your engine is a fluid that has some very important jobs in keeping your car running as it should. Routine oil changes are essential to keeping your engine clean, well lubricated, and protected against wear that could cause costly repairs. Routinely changing your vehicle’s oil will help extend the life of your used car or new car investment for years to come.

  • The Purpose of Oil: The purpose of your vehicle’s oil is to take heat away from the engine, lubricate moving parts, keep engine component surfaces clean by absorbing loose particles, and protect the engine from wear.
  • When to Change: Every 3,000-5,000 miles is the recommended timeframe for when you should have your vehicle’s oil changed; however, differing driving habits and synthetic oil can affect the necessary interval your vehicle requires between oil change. You can reference your owner’s manual for a factory suggested interval specific to your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

Coolant is the auto fluid that works with your radiator to cool your engine, and keep it from freezing. Coolant is a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. It usually comes in bright colors like blue, red, green, or yellow and gives off a sweet smell. Coolant contains additives to control temperature, and contains anticorrosive properties. These anticorrosive properties protect the aluminum parts of the engine, like the cylinder heads and radiator tubes. Because freezing or overheating can cause serious damage to your engine and its parts, coolant is an important auto fluid to maintain, inspect, and change when needed.

  • The Purpose of Coolant: Coolant is an important part of the engine’s cooling system. It helps keeps the engine from overheating or freezing by controlling the temperature of the engine. It also protects important aluminum engine parts.
  • When to Change: Our service experts recommend flushing your coolant every 24,000 miles or every two years, whichever comes first. For the recommended time interval specific to your vehicle’s coolant needs, you can reference your owner’s manual. There are also some signs you can look out for that may indicate your vehicle’s coolant needs to be flushed and changed: a sweet smell coming through your vents, a visible leak from under the hood, or an engine temperature that’s too high. If your vehicle is experiencing any of these signs, let our service experts know so we can help diagnose the true issue and report to you what’s happening.

Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is a hydraulic and hygroscopic fluid. We know that’s a mouthful, but what this fluid does is very important to the function of your vehicle. Brake fluid transfers the pressure when you press your brake pedal to the calipers to cause your vehicle to slow down. Because your brake fluid has a specific boiling point, too much heat in this process can cause air bubbles in the fluid, which can create a “soft” or unresponsive brake pedal. Overtime, brake fluid can also absorb moisture, leading to corrosion in the brake system, which can be a costly repair.

  • The Purpose of Brake Fluid: This hydraulic fluid lies in the brake lines. The pressure created from pressing the brake pedal is transferred to the brake caliper by the hydraulic brake fluid. This causes the rotors in your brake system to compress on your wheels and slow down the vehicle.
  • When to Change: While how often you should maintain your brake fluid is a debated topic, our auto experts suggest having it inspected every 30,000 miles. Depending on your vehicle type, your owner’s manual may suggest a much longer interval, so it’s important to check for your vehicle’s specific needs.

Transmission Fluid
Transmission fluid acts as a lubricant for all the moving parts inside your transmission. It also works as a coolant and a power transmitter from the engine to the transmission. Since there are different types of transmissions, there are also a variety of fluids designed to function with each one. Our service technicians are extremely knowledgeable and can suggest which type of fluid is necessary for your vehicle make and model.

  • The Purpose of Transmission Fluid: Allowing your transmission to run smoothly is just one of the jobs of this fluid; however, it also serves a few other purposes like helping prevent corrosion, protecting the transmission against wear, cleaning the transmission, and conditioning the gaskets.
  • When to Change: Our expert technicians recommend maintaining your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles to keep your car running at its best. If you ever feel your vehicle’s transmission slipping, hear strange noises like transmission grinding, see the fluid is brown or black, or have problems shifting gears, we’d be happy to inspect your transmission fluid for you and flush and refill it if needed! If you have a used car and have driven over 30,000 miles, it can be particularly beneficial to have a transmission fluid inspection to ensure your safety on the road.

Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is a highly pressurized hydraulic fluid that has many jobs. Its main job is to transmit power to your vehicle’s steering rack, located between the front wheels, so you’re able to use your vehicle’s power steering capabilities. When turning the wheel inside the vehicle, the power steering fluid is directed to that respective side.

  • The Purpose of Power Steering Fluid: Not only does power steering fluid transmit power to the steering rack, but it also lubricates the power steering pump and gear unit, minimizes friction in the power steering system, and reduces the temperature in the steering system.
  • When to Change: The timeframe suggested between your routine power steering fluid maintenance is dependent on many factors. Typically power steering fluid flushes are few and far between; however there are some signs you should be aware of to know if you need your power steering fluid serviced: creaking in the steering wheel, growling or moaning noises when you turn, if you see a leak, or if you have trouble turning the steering wheel. If your vehicle displays any of these symptoms or if you simply would like an inspection for peace of mind, we’ll gladly do so and give you an honest report of your vehicle’s health.

Washer Fluid
Although this might be the simplest of the fluids listed, it’s one of the most important. Washer fluid is used in conjunction with your windshield wipers to wash your windshield. It’s stored in a tank under your hood and can be easily refilled anytime. If you’re shopping for washer fluid, make sure to choose a type that can withstand the temperature of the climate you’re driving in. Also be aware that there are already diluted solutions and concentrated solutions, which require dilution with water 50/50.

  • The Purpose of Washer Fluid: The purpose of washer fluid is to rid your vehicle’s windshield of dirt, grime, salt, etc. so that you can see the road clearly! Your wiper blades make cleaning the windshield possible, so it is important to make sure your wipers are working properly without streaking.
  • When to Change: There is no specific maintenance interval for your washer fluid because it simply depends on how much you use your washer fluid. Some cars come equipped with a sensor to tell you when the fluid is low, while others do not. We recommend you get in the habit of checking your washer fluid level often so you’re never in a situation where you run out when you need it most. We’re happy to top off your washer fluid at your next oil change!

Schedule Your Car Fluid Inspection or Service at Graff Chevrolet in Durand, MI

At Graff Chevrolet in Durand, we want to help you care for your vehicle to extend its life and protect your investment. Keeping up with routine maintenance, including vehicle fluid inspections and replacement, will ensure top performance of your vehicle and safety for you on the road. Our expert certified service technicians will gladly handle any auto service need you might have, and are available to answer any questions. We’re proud to provide an excellent auto experience for our customers in Durand, Owosso, Swartz Creek, Genesee, Flint, and beyond. Visit our well-equipped Service Center at 9009 E. Lansing Rd., Durand, MI 48429 or give us a call at (866) 529-1655.