Your engine cooling system helps keep your engine from overheating, which is one of the most common causes of breakdowns and internal engine damage.
A cooling system flush is basic maintenance that every car owner should be aware of. Every time you drive, your radiator uses coolant to help lower the temperatures in your vehicle's engine.
Coolant—a 50-50 mix of water and antifreeze—flows through your car's radiator, water pump, and engine cooling passages to keep it operating at the proper temperature. Coolant that is still performing properly will be translucent. Low coolant levels or coolant that is dirty and contaminated from age and use can lead to an overheating engine, a literal meltdown. If it's time to flush, your coolant could look sludgy brown.
As coolant ages, it also loses its ability to prevent corrosion inside the radiator, water pump, and cooling passages. These components could literally rust from the inside out. If left to deteriorate it can take its toll on your cooling system.
Common signs of cooling problems include a low coolant warning light, the engine temperature gauge going into the red zone, low coolant levels and leaking coolant. Steam condensing under your hood or a sweet smell are also common symptoms of a problem. How often you change the coolant depends on the type of vehicle you drive and the weather conditions you drive in.
Dirty power steering fluid is thicker than clean fresh fluid and can cause the components of the system such as the power steering pump and the rack-and-pinion to work harder. This results in premature part failure and very costly repairs.
Dirty, oxidized power steering fluid is also very abrasive to seals and is the leading cause of seal failure in pumps and racks.
Not changing your power steering fluid also deteriorate the rubber pressure lines in the system. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the power steering fluid every 20-30k miles.
Most people do not know why brake fluid should be changed. Did you know the average motorist who drives 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year uses his brakes about 75,000 times a year? That translates to breaking 5 to 7 times for each mile driven!
On average, after three years of service, the boiling point of the brake fluid drops to dangerous levels because of the moisture contamination and may not meet the minimum federal requirements for brake fluid.
Brake fluid is stored in the master cylinder reservoir. The reservoir is usually a translucent plastic container on top of the master cylinder. This allows you to see the fluid level inside without having to remove the filler cap.
Avoid opening the filler cap unnecessarily because it allows moist air to enter the reservoir. Moisture in the brake fluid reservoir can cause failure in brake lines, master cylinders, calipers, and wheel cylinders.
Dirt restricts the flow of transmission fluid and prevents the transmission from developing the amount of pressure and hydraulic power necessary for shifting gears.
Dirty transmission fluid causes gears to slip, respond sluggishly or not respond at all. It can also clog the transmission filter and prevent proper gear lubrication. This leads to excessive wear and premature failure of the clutches and bands that enable the gears to change. These worn-out parts cause grinding noises when shifting gears.
Transmission fluid is supposed to keep the transmission temperature in check, but dirty fluid clogs the cooler lines, causing the transmission to overheat. Dirt in the transmission also causes inconsistencies in the flow of transmission fluid that result in the car lurching forward or falling back slightly while driving.
To avoid these problems, dirty transmission fluid should be drained and replaced when it turns dark brown or black from dirt. If the filter is clogged, it should also be cleaned or replaced.