When thinking about brake maintenance, most people think of the mechanical parts of the brakes, like the discs and brake pads. While these are very important, an often overlooked aspect of brake upkeep is the brake fluid. Brake fluid changes are needed from time to time (though not all the time); changing the brake fluid could prevent failures and accidents.
Did you know that when you hear of “unexplained brake failure” as the cause of the accident, chances are it could be related to a brake fluid problem? Here are some important tips and factors regarding brake fluid changes.
Why Brake Fluid Changes Are Necessary
Brake fluid works with your car’s hydraulic braking systems to transfer force into usable pressure, thereby amplifying the car’s braking force. If brake fluids are deficient, or if there is something wrong with the fluid itself, it could sacrifice the car’s ability to stop when needed. Thus, a brake fluid change can help prevent a loss of braking power.
The brake fluid operates in a closed vacuum system. Even so, the system can still absorb moisture over the years, which can lead to corrosion in the brake system. As you can imagine, this is not good for the vehicle and can lead to brake problems in the long run.
Having moisture in the brake fluid system can also lower the boiling temperature of the fluid. This can lead to a fluid boil, and can also place the driver at risk of a brake failure. So, as you can see, it’s important to include brake fluid inspections in your overall vehicle maintenance checklist.
Checking Brake Fluid
It may be in your best interests to check the brake fluid level from time to time. The brake fluid will usually be stored in the brake cylinder reservoir. This is a translucent plastic container that allows you to see the fluid level without taking off the cap. In fact, you should avoid opening the cap, as that allows moisture to enter the system, which as mentioned could lead to corrosion and other problems.
When to Change It
There‘s no set time period for changing brake fluid. Fluid changes will depend on several factors, including the type of car, the type of brake fluid, driving conditions, and driving frequency. Brake fluid should usually last a long time, longer than most other fluids (anywhere from 2 to 10 years; this information may not be listed in the manual).
To be sure, you may need to schedule an appointment with a certified mechanic for guidance with a brake fluid change. You may need a fluid change if the brake fluid:
- Smells or appears burnt -- this could indicate a serious problem requiring the attention of a certified mechanic
- Is not clear or transparent -- this may indicate that moisture has gotten into the system
- Is not filled to the appropriate level -- there may be a leak in the system
While anyone can check the brake fluid level, changing the fluid is another story: this should only be done by a professional. There are different types and ratings of brake fluid; these cannot be mixed, and need to be installed properly in the right car. Also, brake fluid needs to be handled with care as it is toxic and combustible.
The best way to keep your brake fluid properly maintained is to have your car inspected and serviced by a professional. That way, you can rest assured that your brake fluid and other systems are in proper working order. Stop by Convoy Auto Repair today for brake repair services, complete car checkups, and other top-notch car services. We’re San Diego’s favorite auto repair shop, and our team of mechanics is on hand to help keep your car in tip-top shape! Schedule an appointment today!