Have you ever wondered how your vehicle is able to come to a complete stop when you press the brake pedal? It’s all thanks to the brake fluid running through your brake lines. The brake fluid delivers hydraulic pressure that activates your vehicle’s brakes. Brake fluid is often overlooked by many drivers, but it plays a crucial role in keeping you safe on the road.
Like many automotive fluids, brake fluid can become depleted, contaminated, or burnt over time; when this happens, it can lead to improper brake functioning or even complete brake failure. Here’s a look at why brake fluid changes are so important and what can happen if you neglect this vital maintenance service.
Understanding the Role of Brake Fluid & Brake Fluid Issues
As you press down on the brake pedal, the brake fluid is transferred from the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders and calipers through metal lines and hoses. The fluid pushes the brake pistons into the brake pads, which then apply the brake’s friction material to the drums or rotors. When you release the brake pedal, the fluid is pushed back into the master cylinder.
One of the main issues to be aware of with brake fluid is that it’s hygroscopic—which means it absorbs moisture from the air. Over time, this moisture can break down the fluid’s composition, causing the brakes to become less responsive and increasing stopping distances. Like motor oil, brake fluid has additives that help protect against corrosion and fluid breakdown. However, moisture in the system can contaminate the fluid by rusting and corroding the internal metal parts of the brake system.
If the brake fluid drops too low due to normal brake system wear or fluid leaks, your brakes may not work as well as they should. The brake pedal may feel spongey or it may sink to the floor, making it difficult to stop your vehicle. Air in the system can also cause uneven braking. Some of the wheels may brake more or less than the others, which can make your vehicle pull to one side. To fix this issue, we would need to “bleed” your brakes, which involves removing the air from the brake lines and replacing it with fresh brake fluid.
Signs You Need Brake Service
To maintain its protective properties and performance, brake fluid should be changed periodically according to your manufacturer’s recommendations. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the brake fluid every two to three years or every 45,000 miles. However, some manufacturers don’t provide recommendations on service intervals; in this case, we can help you determine an appropriate schedule for your vehicle.
- A soft, spongy, loose, or bouncy brake pedal
- The ABS dashboard light is on
- Poor braking performance
- Strange noises, smells, or vibrations while braking
Keep in mind that while your manufacturer’s recommendations on brake fluid change intervals are generally your best bet for keeping your braking system well-maintained, your driving habits also play a role in establishing an effective maintenance plan. For example, if you tend to drive short distances with frequent braking, you may need to schedule brake fluid changes more frequently.
Schedule a Brake Fluid Change at Accurate Automotive Attention
If you’re coming due for a brake fluid change or would like to determine a service schedule for your vehicle, visit the experts at Accurate Automotive Attention! As an ASE-certified and Yuma’s only AAA-Approved Auto Repair shop, you can always rely on our technicians to give you knowledgeable advice and recommendations. Give us a call today or request an appointment online.
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