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Simple Guide On How To Pick The Right Fluids For Your Car

Simple Guide On How To Pick The Right Fluids For Your Car | Frank's Servicenter Inc.

When it comes to maintaining your car, choosing the right fluids is as crucial as selecting the right fuel. Your car needs specific types of fluids to operate smoothly and efficiently. Here is everything you need to pick the most important ones specific to your car's needs.

How to Pick Engine Oil

The choice of engine oil is pivotal for your car's performance. The oil's viscosity, indicated by numbers like 5W-30, refers to its thickness and ability to flow at different temperatures. 

The first number (5W) indicates the oil's flow at cold temperatures, while the second (30) is its flow at operating temperature. For colder climates, a lower first number is preferable, ensuring easy cold starts. In warmer climates, a higher second number can provide better lubrication at high temperatures.

Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil

Synthetic oils are engineered to provide superior performance in extreme temperatures and heavy engine use. They also offer longer intervals between changes. Conventional oils are suitable for regular driving conditions and are often more budget-friendly. Some vehicles, especially high-performance and newer models, specifically require synthetic oil.

Check Your Car’s Specifications

Always consult your car’s manual for the manufacturer's recommendations. Using the right oil not only extends the life of your engine but also maintains your car's warranty.

How to Pick Transmission Fluid

The transmission fluid must match the specific requirements of your car’s transmission – whether it’s automatic or manual. For automatic transmissions, fluids are designed to perform multiple functions like power transmission, lubrication, and cooling. In manual transmissions, the fluid primarily lubricates the gears and bearings.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) Varieties

There are several types of ATF, each with different properties. Common types include Dexron and Mercon. Some newer vehicles require brand-specific formulas. It’s crucial to use the type specified by your car's manufacturer, as incorrect fluid can lead to poor transmission performance and even failure.

Changing Intervals

Regularly check and change your transmission fluid as per your vehicle's maintenance schedule. Fresh fluid ensures optimal performance and longevity of the transmission.

How To Pick Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is categorized by DOT ratings, which indicate the fluid's boiling point. Most common are DOT3 and DOT4, suitable for most passenger vehicles, with DOT4 having a higher boiling point. DOT5 is silicone-based and not compatible with DOT3 or DOT4 systems.

Hygroscopic Nature and Regular Replacement

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, which can lower its boiling point and lead to brake failure. Regularly check the fluid level and quality, and replace it typically every 1-2 years, or as specified in your car's manual.

How To Pick Coolant

Coolants are formulated differently, with variations like IAT, OAT, and HOAT, each suitable for different types of engines and materials used in the cooling system. Using the wrong type can lead to corrosion and damage.

Pre-Mixed vs. Concentrate

Coolants come as pre-mixed (ready to use) or concentrated (to be mixed with water). Ensure the correct ratio if using a concentrate to maintain the proper antifreeze capability and heat conductivity.

Regular Checks and Changes

Regularly check your coolant level and quality. Over time, coolant loses its effectiveness and needs replacement, typically every 2-5 years, depending on the type and vehicle usage.

How To Pick Power Steering Fluid

Some vehicles use ATF in their power steering systems, while others require dedicated power steering fluid. Using the wrong type can cause damage to seals and lead to leaks or system failure.

Synthetic Options for Enhanced Performance

Synthetic power steering fluids offer better performance in extreme temperatures and can extend the life of your power steering system. Check if these are compatible with your vehicle.


For all your car's fluid change services, contact us at Frank's Servicenter Inc.! We will be more than happy to help make your car perform at its best on the road!