Do I Really Need This Service: Brake Fluid

Brake Fluid can often be overlooked. Flushing it will not get you better gas mileage. It won’t make your neighbor come over and ask if you just detailed the car. That does not mean that you can just pass on doing it.

Why would it need to be changed?

Like most fluids in your car, brake fluid has a service interval, typically every 2 or 3 years. Please consult your owners manual for the proper service interval.

The fluid in your brake system is vital to proper brake operation. The fluid in the system moves pistons which push the pad into the brake rotor. When that happens, your car stops.

If dirt or other contaminates get into the fluid, it can change the behavior of your cars braking. The biggest enemy to brake fluid is moisture. Brake fluid is hygroscopic. That means it absorbs and holds water. This is a good thing in a brake system. It will all but eliminate brake lines due to rusting from the inside.

There is another reason that moisture is bad in your brake lines. Water can boil. If the fluid in your brake fluid boils, it can engage the brakes, or change the way they behave. In the right climate that water can freeze also.

How do I check the fluid?

Checking the brake fluid is pretty easy. All you have to do is open the reservoir and look inside. That will give you a basic idea of what the fluid looks like. That may not tell the entire story because you can not see how much moisture is in brake fluid.

When we inspect brake fluid, we focus on the color. New brake fluid is clear with a yellow tint. As it ages it turns green, then brown. If your brake fluid is brown you are in bad shape. At that point, it might take a lot of cleaning to get the lines right.

So do I really need it?

Yes. This is one service that really can cause some safety issues and costly repairs down the road. Check with your owners manual to see when your brake fluid is due for service. If you don’t have your book, call your local dealer and ask them. If you have never had your brake fluid serviced, get it serviced soon.