Checking Fluid Levels

Engine Oil Level
Check weekly or at each fuel fill-up. Low oil levels can result in serious engine damage. To get an accurate reading, the oil should be warm, the engine should be off for approximately five minutes and the vehicle should be on level ground. Remove the dipstick, wipe it off and replace it. Keeping the tip down, remove the stick again. If below the 'Add' mark, add more, but don't overfill.

Engine Coolant
Check weekly or at each fuel fill-up. If the coolant is too low, your engine could overheat, causing serious engine damage. An easy way to check the level is by viewing the coolant reservoir. The coolant should be at the 'Full Cold' line. If you need to add antifreeze, make sure it's the right mixture, usually a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Remember, don't open the radiator cap when the engine is hot, because you could get burned.

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Check levels frequently, ideally when you have the oil changed. The transmission fluid level affects the way your transmission shifts, as well as acting as a coolant. Checking the fluid can be tricky, so you may want us to do this one. But if you're the daring type, follow these instructions:
  • Warm up the car by driving about 15 miles.
  • Keep the engine running and park the car on level ground.
  • With the parking brake on, place the car in park. With your foot on the brake, move the shift lever through each gear. Let the engine idle for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Check the fluid level on the dipstick. It should be in the cross-hatched area of the stick. If it's low, add only enough fluid to bring it up to the correct level.
Power Steering Fluid
Check at least twice a year. Your car should be on level ground and the engine should be off. The dipstick may be marked with hot or cold fill levels. Be sure to check your owner's manual for the recommended replacement fluid.

Windshield Washer Fluid
Check at each fuel fill-up, and more often during the winter months. If you can't see out the windshield, you're a real danger to yourself and others. Remember to fill your reservoir regularly with windshield washer fluid, not water. Water, of course, freezes when temperatures dip below 32 degrees F.

Tire Pressure and Spare Tire Pressure
Check at least once a month. Improper tire pressure can cause poor handling, unnecessary tire wear and affect gas mileage. To check the pressure, you need a good tire pressure gauge. Look on the edge of the driver's side door for the Certification Label. That will tell you the correct 'cold' tire pressure (e.g., the car has been sitting for at least 3 hours). Don't forget to replace the valve caps.

Battery
Check regularly. With an ACDelco Battery, you can easily check its condition by looking at its 'eye.' The eye is located in the top of the battery. To check, clean the top of the battery with a rag and look directly down into the eye. Its color will indicate the state of charge:
  • Green — good, the battery is charged
  • Black — might be OK, but the battery and cables should be checked, and the unit may require a quick recharge
  • Clear or yellow — not good. The battery needs to be replaced. Do not attempt to recharge. See Routine Procedures for more information.
A Note About Battery Cables
Battery cables are very important. If they're loose or corroded, then even a good battery can't provide the electrical power your car needs. There are two main battery cables — usually red and black. If the corrosion on the cables gets heavy enough, your car may not start. Look for white powdery deposits around the ends of the cables. These are signs of wear. If corrosion exists, clean the ends of the cables.