Do It Yourself Tips
Click on a topic to learn more:
If the level on the dipstick shows ďfullĒ, thatís fine, but if the level shows "low", either put some in yourself or ask someone to do it for you.
To add oil you will have to locate the large cap at the top of the engine
block that unscrews or lifts off. Add a small amount of oil at a time,
frequently checking the level on the dipstick. After some experience,
you will learn that a certain distance on the dipstick translates to a
certain amount of oil. Consult your ownerís manual for information on
the proper type of oil for your car and weather conditions. Do not
forget to put the oil filler cap back, unless you want an unbelievable
mess, and the possibility of engine damage..
If you canít see the fluid level, you will have to remove a cap that may be held on with a retaining spring. The spring can be popped off with a screwdriver. Make sure the area around the cap is clean before opening it. Wipe away any dirt or dust with a paper towel. It is very important not to let any dirt or foreign matter get into the reservoir, because this might interfere with the operation of the brakes.
Remove the cover and the rubber diaphragm that sits beneath it. The brake fluid should be within a half inch of the top in both chambers, or up to the fill line if there is one. Use ONLY the EXACT type of brake fluid that is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Look in your ownerís manual or contact the dealer. Purchase the smallest amount possible and discard the rest. Once opened, do not store it for use at a later date since it will evaporate and gather moisture from the air, making it unsafe to use.
Carefully, and with cleanliness, replace the rubber diaphragm and cover.
It may be necessary to push the diaphragm to its uppermost position with
your finger before you can get the cover back on. Having to add brake
fluid once in a while does not indicate a particular problem. However,
finding that you must do so often, indicates a leak somewhere. Have that
situation checked immediately.
Protect your eyes, skin and clothing from the battery acid.
Unscrew the six small caps or pry off the bars with a screwdriver. Look inside. The fluid should cover the plates. Most batteries have a fill indicator inside each cell that shows the correct level. Use distilled water to fill the cells. The holes to fill a battery are pretty small and itís easy to make a mess unless you have something that allows dispensing a small amount of water at a time. Best is a battery filler - inexpensive and available at auto parts shops.
Do not smoke or otherwise have an open flame near a battery. Batteries generate hydrogen and can explode.
Do not get any of the battery fluid on you or your clothes. It is sulphuric acid and will burn your skin and your clothing. If you do get exposed to it, flush the area with a lot of water immediately. If the acid comes into contact with your eyes, flush well with lots of water and seek medical attention immediately.
If you have a sealed battery, there is no need, or possibility, of adding
fluid. Many of these batteries have charge indicators that give an estimate
of their condition, however. Thereís a little window at the top of the
battery and you may need to wipe it off to see it. Dark with a green dot
in the centre of the window means the battery is fully charged. If there
is no dot, the battery needs charging and there could be something wrong
with the electrical system. A yellow dot or clear window means that the
battery is not accepting a charge and should be replaced. Batteries fail
in mysterious ways; sometimes they seem fine one minute and might not
even turn over the starter in the next.
Pull the dipstick out and wipe it with a clean paper towel. Re-insert
it and check the level several times until the readings seem consistent.
The fluid is moving around and has a tendency to splash a bit giving changes
in readings. If the level is low, fluid is added using a small funnel
down the dipstick tube itself. Itís very important to use the correct
fluid for your particular vehicle and that information is likely both
stamped on the dipstick itself and printed in the ownerís manual. The
fluid should be a nice red or pink color, not brown or smell burnt.
The fluid reservoir may be near the power steering pump, or may be located
on the wall at the rear of the engine and connected by a hose to the pump.
Many modern cars have a translucent plastic reservoir and the level can
easily be observed. Some cars have a small dipstick built into the cap.
The ownerís manual should be consulted for the type of fluid required,
and that information may also be printed on the reservoir.
These DIY tips should only be carried out
if you feel competent.