Your brake fluid questions answered
| Tuesday 2nd April 2019 9:00am
Your brakes undoubtedly play a crucial role in keeping you safe behind the wheel. So, it makes sense to ensure you know at least the basics when it comes to brake fluid. To giveyou some useful insights into this important topic, in this blog we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about brake fluid. Getting to grips with this subject can help you to stay out of danger on the roads and make it easier to keep your car in good condition.
What does brake fluid do?
Your car uses hydraulic power to stop. When you press down on your brake pedal, it pushes hydraulic fluid down to activate your brake pads which, depending on how much pressure you apply, will slow or stop your wheels. This hydraulic fluid is brake fluid and without it your brakes wonít work. Brake fluid also acts as lubricant and has anti-corrosive properties,helping to keep your brake system healthy. It is specifically designed to be compatible with the rubber used in hoses and seals in your braking system.
If you notice any brake fluid leaks, you avoid driving your car and have it assessed as soon as you can by a technician.
Why does it deteriorate?
Brake fluid doesnít last forever; over time it soaks up water from the hoses, joints and pipes that it lubricates. As the water content in the fluid rises, the temperature at which it boils falls, and in turn this can make your braking system less effective. As water builds up in the hydraulic fluid, your brakes will become less and less responsive, making it harder to slow or stop your car. You may first notice this as a spongy feeling when you depress the brake pedal. If it gets very bad, your brakes may fail completely. For obvious reasons, this lack of responsiveness can present a real danger when youíre driving, so itís not something you can afford to ignore.
What should I do if my brake warning light comes on?
If thereís a problem with your brake fluid, the first sign that somethingís wrong may be a warning light appearing on your dashboard. For example, the brake warning light can be triggered by a leak of this hydraulic fluid. If you find that you need to press your brake pedal further down than usual, pull over as soon as you can and call for help. If your brakes seem to be working OK and the level of your brake fluid is normal, the warning light may just be a sensor issue. In this case, you should be able to drive to a garage to have your car looked at.
How often should I change the brake fluid in my car?
Itís recommended to change the brake fluid in your car every one to two years and in some models more regularly. You can check your vehicle handbook for guidance in relation to the specific model of car you have.
Keeping to a regular schedule for changing your brake fluid will help to keep boiling points at a safe level and prevent brake failure. It will also give you added peace of mind.
Which brake fluid is suitable for your car?
The best place to start is to consult your carís user manual and see which brake fluid is compatible with your vehicle. There are premium brake fluids available with additional additives and oils but, unless you are driving your car on the track, fresh fluid changed every two years is all you really require to keep your system running at optimum levels. Brake fluid has just a two-year lifespan unopened, so bear this in mind when you purchase and as a general rule, donít buy in bulk.
Can I change brake fluid myself?
Topping up your brake fluid is a straightforward task that you should be able to do with relative ease as long as you follow the guidance set out in your car manual. However, when it comes to changing the fluid in your brakes, itís a different story. Unless you are confident when it comes to car maintenance and have all the right equipment, replacing brake fluid yourself isnít recommended.
This task is more complicated than simply topping the fluid level up. It involves a process ofĎbleedingí your brakes to remove the old fluid and make space for the system to be refilled.Bleeding your brakes also gets rid of any bubbles of vapour that may be lodged in them. Specialist equipment is needed to do this properly.
By far the safest and easiest thing to do is take your car to a trusted technician and get them to carry out this task for you. If you come to Kwik Fit for this service, our technicians will drain the old fluid in your brakes and then refill them with new fluid in line with the correct specifications. We will also dispose of the old fluid in an environmentally friendly and safe way. In addition, we will test your braking system to ensure itís safe and record the fluid change in your service book.
Getting regular brake checks is a crucial aspect of vehicle maintenance. It can identify any problems before they start to impact on braking efficiency, helping to keep you and other road users safe. If you think itís time for your brakes to get a once over, why not call into one of our 600 centres located across the country?
Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.
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