What is brake fluid?
Brake fluid, also known as hydraulic fluid, is responsible the various components of your vehicle’s braking system. Without it, your car would not be able to stop when you push the brake pedal inside your car. Can you understand why it’s crucial. The pressure of the brake fluid causes the brake rotors to squeeze down on the brake pads which make contact with the wheels, slowing down wheel rotation and in turn the car itself.
Brake fluid is only effective when it is not so hot that it become a vapour. If it gets too hot and does become vapour it could create bubbles which would result in brake failure.
Why do you need to have your brake fluid changed?
Brake fluid doesn’t disappear however over time brake fluid will absorb moisture from the air and not work properly.
How often should you change your brake fluid?
It’s advised that you change it every year or two but bear in mind it’s a safety feature and varies from vehicle to vehicle. The vehicle manufacturer or car hand manual would have the best advice specific to the vehicle.
How to check whether you have a brake fluid leak
A leak in the brakes could be very dangerous because without the fluid the brakes will not be effective. Firstly you need to check that it is actually brake fluid, which should be colourless and should be the consistency of cooking oil.
The brake fluid reservoir will be at the back of the engine and is generally a small translucent container by the drivers’ side. If it is significantly lower than the fill mark it’s likely there is a leak. Another way to check is to look for dark marks underneath the car, and check the colour and consistency of the liquid.
In any situation a brake leak is not good and should be repaired as soon as possible. Leaks will compromise the pressure and cause the brakes to fail. The failure will simply happen faster with a bigger leak.
How to change your brake fluid
It is possible do it yourself, however many garages do it with a machine which is much more reliable.
It is recommended that the fluid is changed by a trained professional because as mentioned above, the oxygen in the air can contaminate the brake fluid. The water vapour in the air will lower the boiling point of the fluid making the vehicle prone to frozen brake fluid during the colder months.
Fluid contaminating with water vapour can also cause the various components to rust which would cause the system to work poorly or not at all. It can also cause damage to the ABS system.
What symbol on your dashboard means you need a brake fluid change?
Brake system/ Brake fluid warning light is the one with an explanation mark inside a circle with two curved lines either side of the circle.
The brakes are one of the most important features on your car, especially from a safety point of view. Therefore, we recommend you get them checked as soon as you see this light on your dashboard. It could be a number of different issues with your brakes, not just related to brake fluid.