16 – Why should I change my brake fluid?

 Because not changing the brake fluid can cost a lot of money and perhaps cause an accident. How so, you ask. Well, you need to understand the basics of your brake system to put this together in your mind.

The brakes in your car are hydraulic. This means the brake fluid (which is not compressible) is forced mechanically (by the action of your foot on the pedal) to compress the brake calipers, which squeezes the brake pads against the brake rotors. By squeezing the rotors, the wheels which are attached, slow down.  A tremendous amount of hydraulic force is required to stop a car. In turn this force causes a tremendous amount of friction between the brake pads and the rotors.  The by-product of friction is heat…a lot of heat.

All fluids have a boiling point and brake fluid is no different. But, if brake fluid boils it changes into a vapor (air) and since air is compressible, this means your brake pedal may get soft and spongy and your car won’t stop very well. In extreme cases it won’t stop at all. Brake fluid is hydroscopic which means it likes to absorb water. When brake fluid sits in your car over several years it collects all types of contaminates as well as water.

Water in the brake fluid lowers the boiling point of the fluid. Remember that water boils at 212. °   Brake fluid is engineered to boil at two or three times that temperature.

When brake fluid is contaminated by water the boiling point lowers.  Under severe braking a lowered boiling point can cause the vaporization of the fluid.

When water is combined with steel it creates rust.  The major components of your brake system are made of steel.  So guess what happens (from the inside out) to your brake system if you don’t change the brake fluid? You got it, it rust. What happens when metal rusts? It tends to get weak and often gets holes in it. Not a good plan for the most important system in your car!

Brake fluid that gets water in it turns funny colors. (Just like water) So if your brakes get rusty inside and have leaks internally, your car is probably not going to stop real well.  (Please take a look at your vehicles brake fluid reservoir.  If it is not clear or looks reddish in color it needs to be flushed out)

Brake repairs and replacements can be very-very expensive the easiest way to minimize these expenses is to not create them in the first place. Flush your brakes every 2 to 3 years and save yourself a bunch of money.

Keep your family and your pocketbook a little bit safer.  Ask for a brake flush the next time you are in.

Call Sturken Auto for a free brake fluid inspection today: 408-295-7195