Everything About Brake Fluid

August 29th, 2014 by

Brake Fluid in Your Braking System

Brake fluid is another often overlooked subject in the area of regular maintenance, mostly because it’s not as publicized as engine oil. Everyone knows that brakes are essential to driving, but may not know that braking is powered by a hydraulic system. Basically, this means that the system is powered by moving fluids.

Brake fluid is the liquid element of the braking system that moves the other components in response to you pressing the brake pedal. This is obviously a crucial part of the braking system, and the fluid can degrade over time. Brake fluid is required to function in a harsh environment due to high temperature and pressure in the hoses. Recommended replacement practice does vary wildly between manufacture’s though so you best source for your car is your owner’s manual.

When to and Why Should you Replace Brake Fluid

It’s important to routinely replace brake fluid because the fluid is hydroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. There are a few ways trace amounts of moisture can get in the system, especially since it can pull moisture directly from the air. Excess moisture in the system will cause the fluid to boil at a lower temperature; this can cause the performance to slip and the fluid to degrade.

There are several types of brake fluid marked in variations like DOT 3 or Dot 5, it is important to use the correct type in your vehicle. The correct type should be detailed in your owner’s manual. Most cars are backward compatible, each number denotes a new variation. So, in most cases, a car that requires DOT 3 will be able to use DOT 5 as well, but its imperative to check on your specific car first.

Intervals for service vary hugely between what manufacturers recommend, like from every 3,000 miles to every 100,000 miles to possibly never. Best practice is to consult your owner’s manual, if it lacks a manufacturer recommendation, check in with a trusted mechanic.