The brake system in your car is one of the most important safety components, and the brake fluid is a critical part of it. Brake fluid plays a crucial role in making sure your vehicle can stop when you need it to. However, many car owners tend to overlook the importance of a brake fluid change, either because they don’t know how important it is or they simply forget. Over time, the moisture in the brake fluid can corrode the brake lines, causing them to weaken and eventually fail. This can cause a loss of brake pressure, making it difficult or even impossible to stop your vehicle. Furthermore, the reduced boiling point of the brake fluid due to water absorption can cause the fluid to boil and turn to vapor when subjected to the high temperatures generated by the brakes. This can lead to a phenomenon known as brake fade, where the brakes lose their effectiveness, making it difficult or impossible to stop your vehicle in an emergency.

What is brake fluid?

Most manufacturers ensure vehicles are equipped with hydraulic brakes, which are the most reliable and efficient brake systems. However, to keep these brakes functioning properly, it is essential to maintain the brake fluid.

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When it comes to vehicle safety, brakes are a crucial component. Many drivers might ask themselves the question, “Is a brake fluid flush really necessary?” The answer is a definite yes. The braking system relies on hydraulic fluid to magnify the pressure you apply on the brake pedal, allowing you to stop a heavy and fast-moving vehicle with ease.

However, to keep these brakes functioning properly, it is essential to maintain the brake fluid. Regular maintenance of the brake fluid is crucial to ensure its performance.

The braking system is susceptible to three main problems, all of which can result in the need for brake fluid change over:

  • The braking process generates heat, which degrades the brake fluid over time.
  • The heat can also leave them moist, which can cause the brakes to rust.
  • Rusted brake lines
  • Debris, rubber, and other contaminants can also contaminate the fluid over time.
  • If these problems are not addressed, it can lead to a reduction in brake performance.

Why is brake fluid important?

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture. Over time, the more moisture the brake fluid absorbs, the less effective it becomes. 

Therefore, it is recommended to replace the brake fluid every 2-3 years, or sooner if you find yourself hard braking or frequently drive your vehicle in high-performance conditions but each vehicle is different and depends on how it’s driven and the vehicle’s mileage.

Noisy brakes and Low Brake fluid

Noisy brakes are generally a sound to pay attention to. Strange noises coming from the braking system can mean that you may be low on brake fluid or your car could have other braking issues. Additionally, if there is a problem with your braking system, and the fluid reaches boiling point it could lose its viscosity, affecting its performance. If the fluid has a burnt smell or appears exceptionally dark, it is time for a brake flush. 

You must make sure you’re using the correct type of brake solution for your vehicle. If you are unsure which brake fluid to use you can contact your nearest Natrad store for help. 

It is important to regularly inspect your vehicle’s braking fluid, at least once a year to ensure you’re not at risk of brake failure. 

Signs that indicate it’s time for a fluid change or brake fluid replacement include:

  • Fluid appearing cloudy or murky
  • Burning smell
  • The decreased fluid level in the reservoir
  • A more of a spongy brake pedal compared to normal

Brake fluid leaks 

Checking for brake fluid leaks is an important part of vehicle maintenance. To do this, start by locating the brake fluid reservoir under the hood of your car. The reservoir is usually located on the driver’s side and is transparent, allowing you to see the fluid level. Check the fluid level, and if it is lower than the recommended level, it could be a sign of a leak. Next, inspect the area around the reservoir and along the brake lines for signs of wetness or dampness. Look for any visible signs of leaks such as drips, stains, or a build-up of dirt and grime. If you suspect a brake fluid leak, it’s important to have it checked and repaired by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to ensure your brakes are functioning correctly and safely.

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How to change and change your brake fluid

Each car will be ever so slightly different.

1) Drain the old fluid

Take the cap off the brake master cylinder and, using a syringe or something similar, remove as much of the fluid as possible and begin the brake fluid flush. Put this old fluid in a suitable container. Once you’ve removed as much as you can, it’s time to go to the brakes themselves. The best way to tackle this is with the car up on axle stands, with all four wheels removed. 

2) Fill it back up

Now you need to get a lint-free cloth and clean out any debris that might be in the reservoir. Once that’s done, you need to fill the master cylinder back up with new fluid, right up to the MAX line. What brake fluid do you need for your car? Make sure you use the correct-specification fluid. Don’t put the cap back on though, because this can create a vacuum, which isn’t what you want when bleeding. You’re looking to push the old fluid out, not suck it back in. 

3) Flush the brake calipers

Each brake caliper has a bleed nipple on the back. You’ll need to release this to let the old fluid out, but before going at it with the spanners, spray it with some brake cleaner and then penetrate oil to free it up. It’ll be full of road dirt. Affix a small length of rubber hose to the nipple, and then submerge the end of the hose into the container in which you put the old. 

Brake fluid is a critical component of your vehicle’s brake system, and neglecting to change it can lead to serious consequences. Regularly changing flushing our old braking fluid can prevent corrosion and brake failure and ensure that your brake pads and other components work effectively when you need them most. If you’re not sure when the brake solution was last changed, it’s always best to have it checked by a professional. Don’t take chances with your safety – change your brake solution regularly to keep your vehicle’s brakes in top condition.