When you ask most car owners which part of the vehicle is crucial for safety, most will answer “breaks”. Checking breaks is an integral part of every routine check. Squeaking breaks always draw attention. But what about brake fluid? Surprisingly, although most drivers consider breaks among the most important parts of their cars, some have never even heard about the brake fluid and the fact that it should be checked and changed from time to time. Luckily, as long as you are reading this article, you are not one of them.
Except for the gas itself, there are lots of different fluids in the car that provide smooth and lasting work of different parts. They lubricate, conduct, coll down, and clean. Some of them, like windshield wash, are quite easy to track and refill. Others need serious knowledge of proper maintenance. Break fluid is in the second group. So let’s have a general overview of the brake fluid itself, it’s purpose, lifecycle, and changing routine.
The purpose of brake fluid.
Break fluid provides smooth work of the hydraulic (brake) system. As easy as it sounds, stopping several tons of iron, plastic, and cargo at full speed is demanding and most of the time crucial process, so the importance of break fluid simply cannot be overrated. But just like any other, brake fluid is not eternal and has a limited lifetime. It might be contaminated, absorb moisture that eventually leads to corrosion in the brake system. Also, it may not be flowing properly, or the level might be low – all those factors inevitably lead to less effective breaks. Need to mention that the consequences may even be fatal?
Checking the brake fluid
Although checking the level of brake fluid is quite easy, here at OHS Body Shop we always recommend professional assistance and advice when you decide to do so. The thing is – the reservoir that contains it is translucent, so you may see the level easily. But we strongly recommend you against opening it unless you are planning to change the liquid immediately. As soon as air enters the container, your brake fluid may be contaminated with moisture, which will eventually lead to problems described above. So for our dear customers from Kalispell, Whitefish, Polson, and Columbia Falls and all over Montana`s Flathead Valley, we advise dropping to one of our branches to make sure that the brake fluid is checked and replaced safely.
How often should you change it?
Most car fluids have some set routine periods for checking and changing. They usually depend on many factors – from the type of vehicle to the conditions of driving. Therefore, it is impossible to give you the exact period without knowing those factors. All the fluid change recommendations are usually described in the car’s manual.
Because brake fluid has many features similar to the oil, mechanics usually recommend checking it during the routine oils checks. In most cases, it should be changed every 5-4 years, but of course, we are talking about a regular size vehicle driving a standard home-work-home route every day. Of course, when you go through heavy traffic in the city, your breaks might have to work overtime, so the changing period becomes shorter.
But some disturbing symptoms require immediate check and change of the brake fluid.
- Burnt smell
- Muddy color
- Low level
All those signs can easily be noticed even without opening the brake fluid container. However, changing it is not a DIY project. And here is why:
- There are many types of brake fluid and they should never be mixed. Therefore you have to be sure that the previous liquid has been fully drained before pouring the new portion.
- It is highly toxic and combustible. Changing it safely needs some serious experience and knowledge. Believe us, payment to a mechanic is nothing comparing to the consequences of unqualified handling of brake fluid.
OHS Body Shop serves the Greater Flathead Valley and offers auto body repairs and more at our service centers in Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Polson. Visit the closest to you to get comprehensive consultation from our qualified mechanics and the best prices in the area for all kinds of service.