How To Check The Hydraulic Systems In Your Car

A car's hydraulic systems are some of the most important components of your car. Without properly running hydraulic systems, a car cannot run efficiently, turn smoothly or stop easily. To keep a car running properly, its hydraulic systems must be regularly checked, flushed, and new fluid must be added to the systems. Additionally, all hoses leading to and from each of the hydraulic systems should be checked for leakage and to make sure that they are connected securely on both ends. Here are some things you can do to check the main hydraulic systems in your car:  

  • The Brake System - The master brake cylinder pushes brake fluid through the car's brake lines to the brake discs and pads in order to stop your car. Today's vehicles must have a very powerful master brake cylinder to be able to generate enough hydraulic brake pressure in order to stop the car, especially at high speeds. That is why the master brake cylinder and brake system should be kept properly maintained by bleeding the old fluid out and replacing it with fresh fluid. To check your car's brake fluid level, do the following:
    • Check your owner's manual to find the master brake cylinder reservoir that is usually located near the firewall at the back of the engine compartment. 
    • Remove the brake fluid cap and check the level of brake fluid in the reservoir. Make sure the brake fluid is within 1/2 inch of the top of the reservoir.
    • If the brake fluid level is low, add more brake fluid to the reservoir.
  • The Power Steering System - The hydraulic pump in a car's steering system is responsible for pushing steering fluid to the steering gear with a valve, belt, and pulley. To check your car's power steering fluid level, do the following when your car is cold:  
    • Locate the power steering reservoir in the car's engine. It will be marked "power steering fluid" on the cap of the reservoir.
    • Before you open your power steering fluid reservoir, wipe the entire area around the cap with a moist cloth to clear away any dirt or debris.
    • When you open the cap, you will see a dipstick mounted on the back of the cap to check the fluid level. Wipe the dipstick with a clean cloth and then check the fluid level in the reservoir. 
    • If the power steering fluid level is lower than the level marked on the dipstick, add more fluid to the reservoir.
  • The Suspension System - A car's suspension system governs the height of the vehicle from the road bed. To check if your car's suspension system needs to be repaired, do the following tests. If you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, your car may need to have its suspension system repaired:
    • Does your car ride roughly?
    • Does your car drift to one side or the other when you are turning? 
    • Does the front end of your car lurch or point down when you apply the brakes?
    • Are your car tire treads wearing unevenly on any of your four tires?
    • With your car in park, push down on the front end of your car. Does it bounce more than 2 to 3 times after you release it?

Proper hydraulic maintenance can greatly improve engine performance and guard against costly repairs in the future. Check your owner's manual for more information. If you have any questions about the fluid levels or operation of your car, have an authorized service center or machine shop like Certified Products Co examine and repair your car.