Huge advances in automotive technology have led to the development of high-tech fluids to keep pace. A simple example of this is the cooling system. For decades it was primarily made out of iron, steel and rubber hoses. At the time, there was only one kind of coolant available to protect these components from corrosion.
Now, modern cooling system components are made with various metal alloys and plastics. These materials require different additives to protect them from corrosion. Since the materials that are used vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, we now have a number of different kinds of coolant.
It’s very important to use the right coolant. If you pour in the wrong kind, it won’t protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Of course, your NAPA AutoCare service advisor will know the proper coolant to use. If you’re concerned you may have used the wrong fluid, play it safe and have your technician flush the system and start fresh with the correct fluid.
Brake fluid is confusing for some. For a very long time, most vehicles used Dot 3 brake fluid. Now we have Dot 4 and Dot 5. Some people mistakenly think the higher numbers are an upgrade. You know, if 3 is good then 4 must be better. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. They are different formulas that were created to meet different requirements in brake systems. Each vehicle has on recommended break fluid formula.
Transmission fluid is the same sort of process. With the tremendous engineering advances in automatic transmissions, there have been several new types of fluids developed to protect and lubricate them.
Nowhere are the advances in automotive fluids more evident than in motor oil. Many new weights and formulations have been created to meet the demands of today’s modern engine design.
Modern engines have more parts and much tighter tolerances. Every year, engines are made more powerful and designed for better fuel economy. With all the complication and sophistication, they still have to be durable. This is where the new grades of engine oil come in. They have to be formulated to lubricate, protect and clean all of those engine parts, big and little. The oil has to be thin enough to get into small passages, yet resistant to vaporization.
Your vehicle may have come from the factory with synthetic oil and/or transmission, brake, differential fluid, etc. If so, your recommended service intervals will be based on synthetic-type fluids and you should use the same type when your vehicle is serviced.
Grades of oil and types of coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. are so carefully matched to individual vehicles. So take care to always use the proper fluid if you are topping off at home. Ask your service advisor any questions that you may have. Using the wrong fluids can do damage to your vehicle.