The Importance of the Brake Fluid

A brake repair mechanic discuss the importance of brake fluid

If you want a car that is more reliable and lasts longer, you should give a serious thought about the importance of maintaining fluids and preventative upkeep of the vehicle. Brake fluid is a very important part of your car’s brake system. It should be checked by a professional such as RPM Brake Service & Auto Repair of Los Angeles, CA on a regular basis in order to maintain your braking performance and prevent costly brake components from failing untimely. Brake repair when necessary is essential for your safety and the proper operation of your vehicle. What some people usually don’t understand and neglect is why brake fluid needs to be flushed.

Brake fluid carries the energy of your brake pedal over the brake calipers, compressing the brake pads together against the brake rotor which generates friction as well as heat therefore stopping the vehicle. During this process brake fluid is subjected to very high temperatures, usually over 300 degrees as the brakes heat up so the vehicle stops. Brake fluid must bear extremely high temperatures and not boil turning into vapor.

Another key feature that makes brake fluid unique is that it is hygroscopic meaning it absorbs water. If dampness was allowed to settle in the system it would rust out the metal components. The issue with brake fluid absorbing damp is that the more it absorbs the lower the boiling point is.

When the boiling point of the fluid is exceeded by the temperature of the brake system, the system will loose pressure, and you experience “Brake Fade” or what drivers describe as a “Spongy Brake Pedal”. Typically this happens when you press the break suddenly or when the car is loaded down with people, thus making brake failure even more tricky. For this very reason, it is essential to always have fresh fluid in the system to maintain the boiling point above the usual operating temperature of the brake system and to prevent its failure.

Moreover, old brake fluid causes many costly failures such as a leaking master cylinder, a damaged ABS pump, leaking brake calipers, or failing brake lines. Dark brown brake fluid is a sign of high moisture content. When it is green that indicates the fluid is leeching copper from the system. Both situations are problematic to the vehicle and the safety of the passengers.

A brake fluid flush is a replacement of the old fluid in the reservoir with brand new fresh fluid that has been never exposed to moisture in the air. Then the new fluid is flushed through the brake lines and through all 4 calipers. Generally this should be done once in every 2 years, but it depends a bit on the vehicle. The result is a shorter and more consistent stopping distances, longer lasting brake system, and a vehicle in mint condition with a lot less money spent on brake repairs!