The following are fluid level checks to be done on a 250-mile or weekly basis. Additional fluid level checks can be found in specific maintenance procedures which follow. Regardless of intervals, be alert to fluid leaks under the vehicle which would indicate a fault to be corrected immediately
Fluids are an essential part of the lubrication, cooling, brake and windshield washer systems. Because the fluids gradually be-come depleted and/or contaminated during normal operation of the vehicle, they must be periodically replenished.
The vehicle must be on level ground when fluid levels are checked
Engine oil is checked with a dipstick, which is located on the side of the engine. The dipstick extends through a metal tube down into the oil pan
The engine oil should be checked before the vehicle has been driven, or about 10 to 15 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 part of the engine, resulting in an inaccurate reading on the dipstick
Pull the dipstick out of the tube and wipe all of the oil away from the end with a clean rag or paper towel. Insert the clean dipstick all the way back into the tube and pull it out again. Note the oil at the end of the dipstick. At its highest point, the oil should be above the ADD mark, in the SAFE range (see below)
4 The oil level should appear between the ADD 1 QT and SAFE or FULL marks; don’t overfill the engine with oil
It takes one quart of oil to raise the level from the ADD mark to the FULL or MAX mark on the dipstick. Do not allow the level to drop below the ADD mark or oil starvation may cause engine damage. Conversely, overfilling the engine (adding oil above the FULL or MAX mark) may cause oil fouled spark plugs, oil leaks or oil seal failures
6 To add oil, remove the filler cap from the valve cover or filler neck. After adding oil, wait a few minutes to allow the level to stabilize, then pull the dipstick out and check the level again. Add more oil if required. Install the filler cap and tighten it by hand only
Checking the oil level is an important preventive maintenance step. A consistently low oil level indicates oil leakage through damaged seals, defective gaskets or past worn rings or valve guides. The condition of the oil should also be noted. If the oil looks milky in color or has water droplets in it, the cylinder head gasket(s) may be blown or the head(s) or block may be cracked. The engine should be repaired immediately. Whenever you check the oil level, 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
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 white plastic coolant reservoir or expansion tank is located in the engine compartment
2 The coolant recovery reservoir is combined with the windshield washer fluid reservoir (there are separate compartments for the two fluids)
The coolant level in the tank should be checked regularly.
Do not remove the pressure cap or expansion tank cap to check the coolant level when the engine is warm!
The level in the tank varies with the temperature of the engine. When the engine is cold, the coolant level should be at or slightly above the COLD or MIN mark on the reservoir or expansion tank. Once the engine has warmed up, the level should be at or near the HOT or FULL mark. If it isn’t, allow the engine to cool, then remove the cap from the tank and add a 50/50 mixture of the specified coolant and water.
Some models do not have a HOT mark on the tank
Drive the vehicle and recheck the coolant level. 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 antifreeze and water solution. In order to maintain the proper ratio of antifreeze and water, always top up the coolant level with the correct mixture. Don’t use rust inhibitors or additives. An empty plastic milk jug or bleach bottle makes an excellent container for mixing coolant
If the coolant level drops consistently, there may be a leak in the system. Inspect the radiator, hoses, filler cap, drain plugs and water pump. If no leaks are noted, have the pressure cap or expansion tank cap pressure tested by a service station
If you have to remove the radiator cap or expansion tank cap, wait until the engine has cooled completely, then wrap a thick cloth around the cap and turn it to the first stop. If coolant or steam escapes, or if you hear a hissing noise, let the engine cool down longer, then remove the cap
Check the condition of the coolant as well. It should be relatively clear. If it’s 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, so it must be replaced at the specified intervals
Brake and clutch fluid
Brake fluid can harm your eyes and damage painted surfaces, so use extreme caution when handling or pouring it. Do not use brake fluid that has been standing open or is more than one year old. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause a dangerous loss of brake effectiveness. Use only the specified type of brake fluid. Mixing different types (such as DOT 3 or 4 and DOT 5) can cause brake failure
The brake master cylinder is mounted at the left (driver’s side) rear corner of the engine compartment. The clutch fluid reservoir (used on models with manual transmissions) is mounted adjacent to it
To check the clutch fluid level, observe the level through the translucent reservoir. The level should be at or near the step molded into the reservoir. If the level is low, remove the reservoir cap to add the specified fluid
3 Clutch fluid is contained in a separate reservoir (right arrow) next to the brake master cylinder (left arrow) - clean the rubber-lined cap(s) before returning it to the reservoir
The brake fluid level is checked by looking through the plastic reservoir mounted on the master cylinder. The fluid level should be between the MAX and MIN lines on the reservoir. If the fluid level is low, wipe the top of the reservoir and the cap with a clean rag to prevent contamination of the system as the cap is unscrewed. Top up with the recommended brake fluid, but do not overfill
While the reservoir cap is off, check the master cylinder reservoir for contamination. If rust deposits, dirt particles or water droplets are present, the system should be drained and refilled by a dealer service department or repair shop
After filling the reservoir to the proper level, make sure the cap is seated to prevent fluid leakage and/or contamination
The fluid level in the master cylinder will drop slightly as the disc brake pads wear. A very low level may indicate worn brake pads. Check for wear
If the brake fluid level drops consistently, check the entire system for leaks immediately. Examine all brake lines, hoses and connections, along with the calipers, wheel cylinders and master cylinder
When checking the fluid level, if you discover one or both reservoirs empty or nearly empty, the brake or clutch hydraulic system should be checked for leaks and bled
Windshield washer fluid
Fluid for the windshield washer system is stored in a plastic reservoir in the engine compartment. The windshield washer reservoir is combined with the coolant reservoir (there are separate compartments for the two different fluids)
In milder climates, plain water can be used in the reservoir, but it should be kept no more than 2/3 full to allow for expansion if the water freezes. In colder climates, use windshield washer system antifreeze, available at any auto parts store, to lower the freezing point of the fluid. This comes in concentrated or pre-mixed form. If you purchase concentrated antifreeze, mix the antifreeze with water in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions on the container.
Do not use cooling system antifreeze - it will damage the vehicle’s paint
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