Fluids are an essential part of the lubrication, cooling, brake, clutch and other systems. Because these fluids gradually become depleted and/or contaminated during normal operation of the vehicle, they must be periodically replenished.
The vehicle must be on level ground before fluid levels can be checked
1 The engine oil dipstick is located on top of the valve cover. The dipstick extends through a metal tube from which it protrudes down into the engine oil pan
The oil level should be checked before the vehicle has been driven, or about 10 minutes after the engine has been shut off. If the oil is checked immediately after driving the vehicle, some of the oil will remain in the upper engine components, producing an inaccurate reading on the dipstick
Pull the dipstick from the tube and wipe all the oil from the end with a clean rag or paper towel. Insert the clean dipstick all the way back into its metal tube and pull it out again. Observe the oil at the end of the dipstick
4 The oil level should be between the two holes in the dipstick
It takes one quart of oil to raise the level from the lower hole to the upper hole on the dipstick. Do not allow the level to drop below the lower hole or oil starvation may cause engine damage. Conversely, overfilling the engine (adding oil above the upper hole) may cause oil fouled spark plugs, oil leaks or oil seal failures
Remove the threaded cap from the valve cover to add oil.
Use a funnel to prevent spills. After adding the oil, install the filler cap hand tight. Start the engine and look carefully for any small leaks around the oil filter or drain plug. Stop the engine and check the oil level again after it has had sufficient time to drain from the upper block and cylinder head galleys
Checking the oil level is an important preventive maintenance step. A continually dropping oil level indicates oil leakage through damaged seals, from loose connections, or past worn rings or valve guides. If the oil looks milky in color or has water droplets in it, the most likely cause would be a blown cylinder head gasket. The engine should be checked immediately. The condition of the oil should also be checked. Each time you check the oil level, wearing thin gloves, slide your thumb and index finger up the dipstick before wiping off the oil. If you see small dirt or metal particles clinging to the dipstick, the oil should be changed (see section 11)
Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin or painted surfaces of the vehicle. Flush contaminated areas immediately with plenty of water. Don’t store new coolant or leave old coolant lying around where it’s accessible to children or pets - they’re attracted by its sweet smell. Ingestion of even a small amount of coolant can be fatal! Wipe up garage floor and drip pan spills immediately. Keep antifreeze containers covered and repair cooling system leaks as soon as they’re noticed
All vehicles covered by this manual are equipped with a pressurized coolant recovery system. A coolant reservoir, located at the front of the engine compartment, is connected by a hose to the base of the radiator filler neck. If the coolant overheats, it can escape through the pressurized filler cap, then through the connecting hose into the reservoir. As the engine cools, the coolant is automatically drawn back into the cooling system to maintain the correct level
The coolant level in the reservoir should be checked regularly. It must be between the MAX and MIN lines on the tank. The level will vary with the temperature of the engine. When the engine is cold, the coolant level should be at or slightly above the MIN mark on the tank. Once the engine has warmed up, the level should be at or near the MAX mark. If it isn’t, allow the fluid in the tank to cool, then remove the cap from the reservoir (see below) and add coolant to bring the level up to the MAX line.
Do not remove the radiator cap to check the coolant level when the engine is warm.
Use only the recommended coolant. Do not use supplemental inhibitors or additives. If only a small amount of coolant is required to bring the system up to the proper level, water can be used. However, repeated additions of water will dilute the recommended antifreeze and water solution. In order to maintain the proper ratio of antifreeze and water, it is advisable to top up the coolant level with the correct mixture
3 The cooling system reservoir is located at the front of the engine compartment
If the coolant level drops within a short time after replenishment, there may be a leak in the system. Inspect the radiator, hoses, engine coolant filler cap, drain plugs and water pump. If no leak is evident, have the radiator cap pressure tested.
Never remove the radiator cap or the coolant reservoir cap when the engine is running or has just been shut down, because the cooling system is hot. Escaping steam and scalding liquid could cause serious injury
If it is necessary to open the radiator cap, wait until the system has cooled completely, then wrap a thick cloth around the cap and turn it to the first stop. If any steam escapes, wait until the system has cooled further, then remove the cap
When checking the coolant level, always note its condition. It should be relatively clear. If it is brown or rust-colored, the system should be drained, flushed and refilled. Even if the coolant appears to be normal, the corrosion inhibitors wear out with use, so it must be replaced at the specified intervals
Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin or painted surfaces of the vehicle. Flush contacted areas immediately with plenty of water
Fluid for the windshield washer system is stored in a plastic reservoir, which is located at the right front corner of the engine compartment
In milder climates, plain water can be used to top up the reservoir, but the reservoir should be kept no more than 2/3 full to allow for expansion should the water freeze. In colder climates, the use of a specially designed windshield washer fluid, available at your dealer and any auto parts store, will help lower the freezing point of the fluid. Mix the solution with water in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions on the container. Do not use regular antifreeze. It will damage the vehicle’s paint (and smear the windshield)
Brake and clutch fluid
The brake master cylinder is located on the driver’s side of the engine compartment firewall. The clutch master cylinder fluid reservoir is located right next to it on the firewall, behind the left shock tower. They both use the same type of fluid
2 The brake fluid level should be near the MAX mark on the translucent plastic reservoir
If additional fluid is necessary to bring the level up, use a rag to clean all dirt off the top of the reservoir. If any foreign matter enters the master cylinder when the cap is removed, blockage in the brake or clutch release system lines can occur. Also, make sure all painted surfaces around the master cylinder are covered, since brake fluid will ruin paint. Carefully pour new, clean brake fluid into the master cylinder. Be careful not to spill the fluid on painted surfaces. Be sure the specified fluid is used; mixing different types of brake fluid can cause damage to the system. See your owner’s manual
At this time the fluid and the master cylinder can be inspected for contamination. If deposits, dirt particles or water droplets are seen in the fluid, the system should be drained and refilled with fresh fluid
Reinstall the master cylinder cap
The brake fluid in the master cylinder will drop slightly as the brake shoes or pads at each wheel wear down during normal operation. If the master cylinder requires repeated replenishing to keep the level up, it’s an indication of leaks in the brake system, which should be corrected immediately. Check all brake lines and connections, along with the wheel cylinders, if equipped, and booster. As the clutch wears, the fluid level in the clutch master cylinder reservoir will rise. Unless there is a leak in either system, fluid additions shouldn’t be necessary
If you discover that the reservoir is empty or nearly empty, the brake (or clutch) system should be filled, bled and checked for leaks
Power steering fluid
Check the power steering fluid level periodically to avoid steering system problems, such as damage to the pump.
DO NOT hold the steering wheel against either stop (extreme left or right turn) for more than five seconds. If you do, the power steering pump could be damaged
The power steering reservoir is located at the right side of the engine compartment. The reservoir has LOWER LEVEL and UPPER LEVEL fluid level marks on the side. The fluid level can be seen without removing the reservoir cap
Park the vehicle on level ground and apply the parking brake
Run the engine until it has reached normal operating temperature. With the engine at idle, turn the steering wheel back and forth about 10 times to get any air out of the steering system. Shut the engine off with the wheels in the straight-ahead position
5 The power steering fluid reservoir is translucent so the fluid level can be checked without removing the cap - keep the fluid between the two lines
Add small amounts of fluid until the level is correct.
Do not overfill the reservoir. If too much fluid is added, remove the excess with a clean syringe or suction pump
Check the power steering hoses and connections for leaks and wear
Automatic transaxle fluid
The level of the automatic transaxle fluid should be carefully maintained. Low fluid level can lead to slipping or loss of drive, while overfilling can cause foaming, loss of fluid and transaxle damage
The transaxle fluid level should be checked only when the transaxle is hot (at its normal operating temperature). If the vehicle has just been driven over 10 miles (15 miles in a frigid climate), and the fluid temperature is 160 to 175-degrees F, the transaxle is hot.
If the vehicle has just been driven for a long time at high speed or in city traffic in hot weather, or if it has been pulling a trailer, an accurate fluid level reading cannot be obtained. Allow the fluid to cool down for about an hour
If the vehicle has not just been driven, park the vehicle on level ground, set the parking brake and start the engine. While the engine is idling, depress the brake pedal and move the selector lever through all the gear ranges, beginning and ending in Park
4 The automatic transaxle dipstick is located on the left side of the engine compartment, near the battery. Turn the engine off, then remove the dipstick from its tube
Wipe the fluid from the dipstick with a clean rag and reinsert it back into the filler tube until the cap seats
Pull the dipstick out again and note the fluid level. The fluid level should be in the operating temperature range (between the upper and lower mark). If the level is at the low side of either range, add the specified automatic transmission fluid through the dipstick tube with a funnel
Add just enough of the recommended fluid to fill the transaxle to the proper level. It takes about one pint to raise the level from the low mark to the high mark when the fluid is hot, so add the fluid a little at a time and keep checking the level until it is correct
The condition of the fluid should also be checked along with the level. If the fluid at the end of the dipstick is black or a dark reddish brown color, or if it emits a burned smell, the fluid should be changed. If you are in doubt about the condition of the fluid, purchase some new fluid and compare the two for color and smell. DO NOT taste it
Manual transaxle fluid
The manual transaxle does not have a dipstick. To check the fluid level, raise the vehicle and support it securely on jackstands.
Be sure the vehicle is level.
On the left side of the transaxle housing, remove the fluid fill plug (it’s the upper of the two plugs; the lower one is the drain plug). If the lubricant level is correct, it should be up to the lower edge of the hole
If the transaxle needs more lubricant (if the level is not up to the hole), use a syringe or a gear oil pump to add more. Stop filling the transaxle when the lubricant begins to run out the hole
Install the plug and tighten it securely. Drive the vehicle a short distance, then check for leaks
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