A great way to keep your car in good running shape is to check the fluids yourself. It is an inexpensive and simple way to prevent engine wear or damage, and save money at the garage.

Car service is one of the car aspects that most, if not all motorists dread. However, it is important to note that when you take care of your car, it will last. One of the important aspects to look out for are the various fluids.

Steering wheel fluid
Adrine Natuhwera, a motorist, says one of the fluids she tops up without need of driving to the garage is the steering wheel fluid. Natuhwera says this also saves her from being cheated by mechanics during regular car service.

Edward Jjuuko, a mechanic in Wandegeya, says when you drive a car that has low or no power steering fluid in its system, it becomes very hard to turn the steering wheel.

The steering wheel fluid plays an important purpose of lubricating the universal joint and the steering wheel column to allow you turn the steering wheel without using a lot of energy or force. The universal joint is a part that connects the steering wheel rack to the upper steering column to allow steering wheel rotation.
Fuel
The primary role of fuel in your car is to supply power to your engine so that it runs smoothly. According to Jjuuko, car fuel, besides engine oil, also sometimes serves as a lubricant and cooling fluid in your engine.

Away from the engine, Jjuuko says if you are the kind of motorist whose refuels when your gauge hits the red line or the empty mark, it subjects your bottom part of the fuel tank to slow but steady rusting.

“When your fuel tank begins to rust, it eventually develops holes in the tank. These holes will lead to fuel leakages and loss if they go unnoticed. If your car uses petrol and it is exposed to hot environments, it will catch fire because petrol is highly flammable,” Jjuuko explains.

Engine oil
Hamza Massadda, a mechanic at Wamuco Motors, says without oil in your car, especially in the engine, it becomes hard, if not impossible for your car to move even when its fuel tank is full. This is because the engine accommodates parts such as the pistons, crank shaft, crank shaft case, engine head and valves, among others. These all depend on engine oil to run at their optimal best.

“Engine oil works as a lubricant in all parts embedded in the engine block. The oil also prevents friction within the engine and allows engine parts to run smoothly. If parts such as the pistons are not supplied with enough oil, the engine overheats and at times ceases. At worst, you will experience an engine knock, where your engine comes to a sudden stop,” Massadda explains.

One of the remedies of an engine knock is to carry out an engine overhaul because some key parts such as the piston and piston rings could have broken down. Engine knocks happen as a result of using poor quality oil, among other factors.

Hydraulic fluid
Massadda says cars across all brands regardless of whether it is manual or automatic use gearboxes which also run on hydraulic fluid. Like in automatic cars whose gears change automatically depending on your driving speed, similarly in cars with manual transmissions, the hydraulic fluid keeps your gearbox lubricated so that you are able to change gears.

“When you step on the clutch and you want to shift from one gear to another and the gear engages seconds later, it is a sign that you would be low on hydraulic fluid. A proper functioning gearbox is supposed to engage anther gear the moment you give it the command using the gear stick,” Massadda explains.

Coolant
Lawrence Kibomba, a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road, observes that when your car overheats, it is a sign that you do not have car coolant in the radiator or water in the expansion tank, one of the parts that make up the car cooling system.
Your car radiator serves as the receiving end of hot heat from the engine to the radiator for cooling before sending it back to the engine in cool form.
“If your radiator has no coolant, it will heat up causing the engine to also heat up because it would not be receiving cool air from the radiator. When the heat becomes unbearable in the radiator, it may blow up,” Kibomba explains, advising that it is recommended to check your coolant levels before starting any journey.

Cost
Peter Kasoma, a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road says coolant that is used in the radiator costs approximately Shs27,000 while steering wheel fluid costs Shs17,000.

For engine oil, it is sold in half litre and litre measurements but that it is dependent on whether it is for diesel or petrol engines. A litre of oil for a diesel engine costs between Shs15,000 to Shs16,000 while that of a petrol engine costs between Shs14,000 to Shs15,000.

However, prices may differ depending on where you buy it.
With hydraulic transmission fluid or hydraulic oil for the gearbox, it costs between Shs19,000 to Shs25,000.