Fluids 101: The Proven Importance of 3 Essential Fluids

You know to get your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles. But did you know that other fluids in your car keep it running? Some of the essential elements in your vehicle are its coolant, brake and transmission fluids. The fluids keep your vehicle running longer and performing at its best. These fluids must be topped off and changed like your oil, though not as often. Although each fluid and vehicle has its own recommendations, it’s generally a good idea to get these fluids changed every 20,000-50,000 miles. But what’s so important about these fluids? Below, Cannon’s Automotive Service experts explore the basics of these three essential fluids. 

Why You Need to Change More Than Your Oil


Coolant is an important liquid that helps keep a car’s engine from getting too hot. It is a mixture of water and chemicals that protect the engine. Coolant is responsible for:

  • Temperature control: Your engine produces heat when you drive. If the engine gets too hot, it can cause damage and stop working properly. Coolant regulates the temperature by absorbing heat from the engine and carrying it away. 
  • Preventing freezing: In cold weather, water can freeze inside the engine, cracking and breaking it. Coolant contains chemicals that lower water’s freezing point, preventing it from turning into ice – even in freezing temperatures. 
  • Lubrication and corrosion prevention: Coolant lubricates certain engine parts, reducing friction and helping them work smoothly. Additionally, it contains special additives that protect the engine from rust and corrosion, which can damage the parts over time.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid plays a crucial role in the vehicle’s braking system. Brake fluid transfers the force from the brake pedal to the brake components, allowing you to slow down or stop your vehicle effectively. Regularly changing your brake fluid is essential because of its key functions and properties:

  • Transmitting pressure: Brake fluid can’t be compressed. Instead, when you press the brake pedal, the fluid transmits the hydraulic pressure, causing the brake pads or shoes to press against the rotors or drums, creating friction and slowing down the vehicle.
  • Heat transfer: Braking generates significant heat because of friction between the brake components. Brake fluid plays a crucial role in absorbing and dissipating this heat. It has a high boiling point to withstand the extreme temperatures generated during heavy braking. If the brake fluid boils, it can reduce braking performance or cause brake failure.
  • Lubrication: Brake fluid lubricates moving parts like the pistons, seals and valves in the braking system. The lubrication ensures smooth operation and prevents wear. It also prevents corrosion within the brake system by providing a protective barrier against moisture and contaminants that cause rust.
  • Hydraulic system protection: The brake system operates under high pressure, which brake fluid transmits. Transmitting pressure ensures the hydraulic components like cylinders, wheel cylinders and ABS (anti-lock braking system) valves function properly. Regularly changing the brake fluid helps maintain the integrity of these components and extends their lifespan.

Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid is important for keeping the transmission in a car running smoothly. Just like oil keeps the engine lubricated, transmission fluid helps the transmission work properly. And like brake fluid, it’s important to check and change the transmission fluid. If the fluid gets dirty or low, it can cause problems with the following:

  • Lubrication: Transmission fluid acts like a lubricant, reducing friction between the moving parts inside the transmission. This lubrication helps the gears and other components work together without wearing out quickly. It keeps things running like oil keeps a bike chain moving smoothly.
  • Cooling: The transmission can become very hot as you drive, especially going up steep hills or towing something heavy. Transmission fluid helps to cool down the transmission by absorbing heat and carrying it away. It’s like a coolant for the transmission, similar to how water cools down a hot engine.
  • Cleaning: Small bits of metal and debris build up in the transmission. Transmission fluid cleans out these particles and keeps them from causing damage. It’s like a cleaner that removes dirt and grime, keeping everything in good shape.
  • Shifting gears: The transmission fluid also plays a role in helping you shift gears smoothly. When you press the clutch and move the gear shifter, the transmission fluid helps the gears engage properly. It ensures gear shifting happens smoothly without any jerking or grinding.

Request Expert Service for Your Vehicle Today

The importance of fluids in your vehicle is clear. Keeping the fluid full and clean in your vehicle can lengthen its life, improve its performance and keep you on the road. Fortunately, if you need fluids topped off or replaced, the friendly experts at Cannon’s Automotive Service are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your service!