Four Fluids to Check During The Winter Months

Four Fluids to Check During The Winter Months

One of the most important things to make sure you’re mindful of during winter weather is the fluids your car depends on to run. As fluids get colder, they often get thicker, and could even risk freezing if it gets cold enough. So on this blog, our auto repair experts from Christian Brothers Automotive will discuss four of the most important fluids to make sure you’re mindful of at the beginning and all throughout this winter.


When it’s freezing outside, logically the first fluid most people think of is the appropriately-named antifreeze. Antifreeze is also known as “coolant”, and is actually not responsible for keeping your system from freezing, but rather preventing it from overheating. Unlike its name implies, your antifreeze could freeze over if there’s too much water in the system and the temperature drops low enough, resulting in boiling over in your radiator and subsequent engine overheating.

Before the start of winter, it’s a good idea to flush your radiator out completely and fill it with fresh antifreeze. However, antifreeze is designed to work best when it’s mixed with distilled water. On the bottle of antifreeze, be sure to look for the directions as to how much water to mix in with the antifreeze and mix it properly before adding it to your radiator system. We recommend letting an expert do it. A flush machine is the only way to really flush the whole system, plus, you get the added benefits of cleaning the system and removing contaminants.

Brake Fluid

Modern disc brakes aren’t powered by the pressure of your foot—they’re operated by a hydraulic system, which means they use fluid to press against a cylinder which causes the calipers to press the pads to rotors, creating the friction which stops your car. This fluid needs to be regularly changed (usually when you have your brake pads changed), and the main reservoir needs to be checked to make sure there are no leaks. Under the hood, you can usually find it in a small, transparent plastic box. The fluid should be between the two fill lines—too much or too little could present a serious problem. And that could be devastating during winter, where good brakes are vital to your safety.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is what keeps your gears meshing smoothly with each other and in good health for tens or hundreds of thousands of miles. However, over time the fluid needs to be replaced. If you have a modern transmission, this isn’t exactly easy—most modern units are sealed, which means that an experienced professional needs to check the fluid level and condition.

If you notice any transmission fluid leaks, or the fluid seems to smell burnt and have a brown color to it, take your car in to a professional for repairs as soon as possible! Your transmission fluid should be examined and/or changed every 30,000 miles.

Engine Oil

There is perhaps no fluid more important to your engine’s day-to-day operation as well as its lifespan than the motor oil you put into it. Oil is responsible for cleaning the engine, lubricating moving parts, and keeping metal cool to avoid stressing that causes wear and tear. Most people know to change their oil regularly, but did you know it may be a good idea to change the blend when the weather turns cold?

Oil is generally classified by its weight, usually found in two numbers labeled usually “something-W-something.” Many vehicles run on 10W-30, 5w-20 or 5w-30 for example. The lower number is what you’re concerned with—the number labeled with a W stands for “winter,” and tells you the viscosity of the fluid during cold weather. The lower the number, the thinner the oil at that particular temperature. Oil that’s too thick during wither weather can cause sluggish performance in your engine, but oil that’s too thin may not provide you with the protection you need.

Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will instruct you on which type of oil to use in your engine, including in winter months if you live in a climate where freezing temperatures during winter are normal.

About Christian Brothers Automotive

Christian Brothers Automotive was founded upon a simple but life-guiding principle: love your neighbor as yourself. With this motivation in mind, we set out to change how you think about automotive care and maintenance. Today, more than 30 years later, we have locations in 22 different states which provide reliable, honest, and professional care and maintenance for your vehicle. Our ASE-certified technicians are friendly and knowledgeable, and we offer convenient services like free shuttle rides and comfortable waiting areas for customers while their car is in service.

Schedule your appointment with your local Christian Brothers Automotive today!

Posted by, Christian Brothers Automotive