Even though it might not seem like that big of a deal, taking care of your brake fluid is a crucial part of automotive maintenance. In this article, we’ll talk about why brake fluid is so important, as well as how to keep your brake fluid in good condition.
What is brake fluid, and why is it important?
Brake fluid is a hydraulic liquid that circulates throughout your braking system. It’s also
incompressible. This allows it to transport force from the brake pedal to the calipers. This force
results in the calipers stopping a moving vehicle by clamping down onto the rotors. If your
vehicle didn’t have brake fluid, there would be no force to stop it from moving. This is why
brake fluid is so fundamental.
Brake fluid has certain qualities that allow it to withstand the extreme heat produced by the
engine. One of these qualities is its viscosity. This fluid can keep a constant viscosity, no
matter how cold or hot of an atmosphere it’s in. This helps the brake fluid flow easily
throughout intricate engine parts. Another noteworthy quality of fluid is its boiling point.
Because of its exposure to high temperatures, fluid has a very high boiling point. This is to
keep it from vaporizing, which would result in brake failure.
Most types of fluids are glycol-ether-based. This formula is hygroscopic, which means it
draws in water from the surrounding atmosphere. This absorbing quality means that your
vehicle’s fluid contains some amount of water. Too much water is problematic for a few
reasons. For one, it can reduce the brake fluid’s boiling point, which could result in decreased
stopping ability. Another issue is that water causes corrosion to metallic engine parts. Too much
water in your braking fluid isn’t good for the engine. To steer clear of these issues, it’s a good idea
to get your fluid tested and replaced when the water content gets too high.
How often does the fluid need to be changed?
Over time, brake fluid gets contaminated with rust particles and other engine debris.
Additionally, the water content tends to increase. Part of maintaining your vehicle is flushing
out and replacing the old fluid with fresh fluids. The frequency of this depends on what
type of brake fluid you use since not all fluids are the same. As with most car
maintenance, it’s a good idea to consult the owner’s manual for any manufacturer-specific
information. In general, we suggest a braking fluid flush and replacement every year or every
other year. Additionally, it’s a good idea to get your brake fluid tested for moisture periodically.
This is especially true if you live in an area with lots of humidity.
What are signs the fluid should be changed?
A visual examination of your braking fluid can give you a good idea of its quality. Over time, the
appearance of fluid changes. New brake fluid usually has a clear or light amber hue. The
longer it’s in your engine, the more contaminated it becomes. If it looks dark and opaque, you’ll
know it needs to be flushed out and replenished.
When examining the braking fluid, be sure to check your fluid levels. It’s perfectly normal to see
an occasional decrease in your braking fluid. However, if you experience this often, there’s a good
chance you have an underlying problem that needs maintenance.
Do you need to get your fluid tested or replaced? Our experienced technicians at Dale
Feste are happy to help. Give us a call today at (952) 938-9808, or schedule an appointment