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A Guide to the Fluids in Your Car

  • Tips/Guides-Tips/Guides

The lifeblood of your car, fluids keep your car operating in good working condition, providing lubrication for important major components.

1. Antifreeze (engine coolant)

Coolant ensures that your car’s engine runs at optimal temperatures. It keeps the engine cool during hot temperatures and extended use, as well as keeps the engine block from freezing or operating at uneven temperatures during the winter.

  • When changing the coolant, it’s also important to inspect the radiator hoses.

When to change: +-50,000 km.

2. Brake fluid

Brake fluid translates the pressure of your foot on the brake pedal into the braking force that allows you to slow down or bring your car to a stop. It also acts as a lubricant to the moving parts within your brakes and prevents rust and corrosion from occurring.

  • Top up when the brake fluid indicator light comes on.
  • Flush at normal service intervals.
  • Brake fluid system must be bled when callipers or wheel cylinders are replaced.

When to change: Depends on your vehicle, but generally every two years.

3. Differential fluid

The differential, which is part of the drivetrain, helps evenly distribute vehicle power to each wheel. The differential oil lubricates the ring and pinion gears that transfer power from the driveshaft to the wheel axles.

When to change: Between 50,000 to 100,000 km.

4. Engine (motor) oil

Engine oil lubricates the engine’s internal moving parts that include the pistons, crankshaft, and camshaft. It helps reduce friction and minimises unnecessary loss of power. An engine that is well-lubricated will burn fuel more effectively and simply perform better. Regular motor oil changes are important to ensure that your engine stays running properly for years as dirty engine oil can lead to sluggishness and eventually engine failure.

When to change: Between 5,000 to 16,000 km.

5. Power steering fluid

The hydraulic link between your steering wheel and your front wheels, power steering fluid allows you to steer and turn your vehicle with little to no effort. It also ensures the hoses, pistons, valves and power steering pump work optimally.

When to change: +-80,000 km.

6. Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid is used to lubricate the components of a car's transmission for optimum performance.

In manual cars, transmission fluid is essential for lubricating the metal parts inside the gearbox to keep them from grinding down as you shift. In automatic cars, it provides the hydraulic pressure and friction necessary to make your transmission work. In both types of cars, the transmission fluid must be changed at regular intervals.

When to change: +-80,000 to 160,000 km.

7. Windshield wiper fluid

Generally, windscreen wiper fluid allows the wipers to glide across the glass to remove dirt, debris, streaks, or smears, and cleans the windshield at the same time. However, there are other types made for more than simply cleaning, such as bug repellents and water repellents.

When to fill:As required.


Whether performing a DIY top up or taking your car in for a service, ensure you familiarise yourself with these important fluids to keep your car performing at optimal levels.

Supa Quick’s Minor Services are approved by the RMI (Retail Motor Industry). Contact your nearest Supa Quick service centre and book your appointment today.

Also read:

A Beginner’s Guide to Motor Oil

3 Most Important Spring Car Maintenance Checks

How to Choose the Right Brake Pads for Your Car

Car Accidents Caused by Brake Failure

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.


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