Car maintenance isn’t just about oil changes and wheel alignments. It also extends to your brake system.
When you step on the brake, the brake pad and brake rotor press against each other, creating heat and moisture. They don’t move very far, and neither does the brake fluid between them.
The moisture that accumulates causes corrosion to build up. Corrosion can destroy a brake system from the inside out.
We recommend brake fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles. Because this typically coincides with brakes, which should be replaced every 40,000 to 50,000 miles, it’s a good idea to have both services done at the same time.
Why you should get a brake fluid exchange
Regular brake fluid exchanges prolongs the life of anti-lock braking systems (ABS), which prevents the brakes from locking up during emergencies, allowing you to maintain steering control.
This maintenance option also ensures that your brake pedal is firm.
If you wait too long for a brake fluid exchange, corrosion can build up on the inside of the calipers, which may result in the calipers dragging. Internal seals will deteriorate and prevent the calipers from pushing in and out correctly.
Another consequence is that the inside of the soft brake hoses will break down, restricting brake fluid flow.
The bleeders, which enable mechanics to perform a brake fluid exchange and release air, can also rust shut if they aren’t moved every once in a while.
Signs that you need a brake fluid exchange
It can be hard to know if you need a brake fluid flush, but there are some indicators. A low brake pedal is one of them. Another sign is a soft brake pedal, which can be caused by moisture in the system that’s starting to boil.
You also need to look into testing the brake fluid for contaminants and moisture. Just because the brake fluid looks dark – rather than clear – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
However, if the fluid is very dark and you can see particles floating in it, that’s the rubber material from the master cylinder or ABS that’s starting to come apart and mix with the brake fluid. That’s a good indicator that you need to change it.
Test strips and true boiling point measure for moisture are ways you can determine if you need a brake fluid flush.
For most cars, every 30,000 miles is a good time to have this service performed. How often you have it done also depends on the manufacturer. If you are at 50,000 or 55,000 miles when you go in for your first brake job and a brake fluid exchange hasn’t been performed yet, you definitely need to do it.
A lot of cars have computerized brake systems, such as ABS and traction control, where the manufacturer is starting to recommend brake fluid exchanges every 18 to 24 months to ensure the brake system is working correctly. So, you need to check your owner’s manual.
What happens during a brake fluid exchange
During a brake fluid exchange, our technicians connect a pressurized machine to the master cylinder. After adding new brake fluid to the machine and setting it to the appropriate pressure, they go to each wheel and remove the old brake fluid.
We use BG DOT 4 Brake Fluid, which aims to combat moisture, prevent rust and provides protection to the brake system.
If you are considering a brake fluid exchange, it’s also important to make sure your vehicle doesn’t have electric brakes, which don’t require it.
How well a vehicle runs and lasts is determined, in part, by its maintenance. By staying up to date on braking fluid exchanges and other services, you can get the most out of your car.
You can learn more about brake fluid exchanges by checking out this video:
HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.