Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance November 16, 2017

Why Fluids are Crucial for Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Most people know that regular oil changes are necessary when it comes to good vehicle maintenance, but there are actually several different fluids that play crucial roles in your car’s ability to function. If these fluids run dry, it can result in major damage to parts of the car, rendering it unsafe or drive or even unable to start.

Fluids and Vehicle Maintenance

We sat down with Rick Mendez, the store manager at our Falls Church location, to hear his first-hand account of what happens when cars are low on these crucial fluids.


Oil is massively important for your car engine’s ability to run. When your car’s oil isn’t changed out as frequently as it should be, the engine will lock up—it won’t be able to turn over at all. When you try to start the car, you might get a small “click” noise, or nothing at all.

Rick recently saw a car that had been driven over 12,000 miles since its last oil change. The engine had run almost completely dry, and the pistons had seized inside the motor. The entire engine needed to be replaced because it was beyond repair.

While it depends on the model of your car, you could end up with a $5,000 bill just to get your car running again if you let the engine run dry.

vehicle maintenance


The frequency in which you need to replace your oil can vary largely depending on the model of the car and the type of oil your car requires. You don’t need to change the oil as frequently for cars that use synthetic oil. Every manufacturer has specific recommendations for the model of the car, and these can vary widely, so make sure to consult your car manual.

Crucial car tips for commuters in high-traffic areas like Northern Virginia 

We send our customers reminders to come in for an oil change, so if you come to Virginia Tire & Auto for an oil change once, you can expect an email when it’s about time for your next change. We make a note of the manufacturer’s recommendation for your car model in our database.

Transmission Fluid

If you drive an automatic car, the transmission fluid ensures you can shift gears seamlessly. This fluid isn’t checked as part of the annual Virginia state inspection, but it does need to be replaced at regular intervals.

Differential Fluid

Rick says that the differential fluid is the most neglected fluid in cars–and this may be because many car owners don’t know what it is. The differential works with your transmission to transfer power from the engine to the axels. Most vehicles have a front differential, and 4-wheel vehicles have both a front differential and a rear differential. The differential fluid allows the differential to run more smoothly and keep it from overheating.

The differential fluid needs to be replaced every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on the car manufacturer’s recommendation.


Coolant keeps your engine from overheating, and how often it needs to be changed really depends on your car model. Some car manuals suggest changing it every 30,000 miles, while others say your car can handle going for more than 100,000 miles. The quality of the coolant currently in your car can be tested by inserting strips that test the coolant’s level of acidity.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering is standard in most cars today—many drivers on the road haven’t experienced driving a car without it! Power steering won’t work without adequate lubrication—on average, it needs to be changed out every 2 years, but check your car owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid should be changed out every 2 years or 24,000 miles. This is one fluid that is checked during the annual Virginia state inspection, so it’s not often missed. Having functional brakes is arguably the most important feature in a car from a safety perspective.

Vehicles Run on Fluids

Like an athlete, your car needs fluids to operate at peak performance, too. If your check engine light comes on, bring your car to the nearest Virginia Tire & Auto location and we’ll make sure that your vehicle isn’t running dry.

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