For all of our talk of auto service at Harbin Automotive — and let’s admit, it’s a lot — one question we get asked pretty frequently at our Scottsboro-based dealership is, “Do I need to change my brake fluid?” There have been mixed messages for as long as there’s been brake fluid, and we’re here to say with authority that the answer is…maybe. There are different opinions and schools of thought on this, so let’s wade together into the murky depths of brake fluid.
What does brake fluid do? In hydraulic braking systems, brake fluid works to transfer the force to the brake hub when a driver pushes on the brake pedal. As we all know, braking in general produces a large amount of friction, and brake fluid helps to lubricate all of the components that are used during the process of slowing and stopping. Put simply, it’s an important (but often forgotten) part of the driving process.
Why does brake fluid break down? Many automotive fluids will deteriorate over time, for a variety of reasons. When it comes to brake fluid, it usually loses its effectiveness when moisture is allowed to accumulate in the fluid, which reduces its boiling point. Once its boiling point gets to the point where the friction produced by braking produces a similar temperature, we’ve got a problem. Brake fluid obviously is held in a sealed compartment, but as anyone with an automobile knows, those seals can be breached over time.
Read More: Care for your Car Year Round
So what does this have to do with me? Here’s the thing: brake fluids are the most often overlooked component in the automotive world, without a doubt. It isn’t even something that most people or mechanics think to check. Depending on the manufacturer, they may actually suggest replacing your fluid every 10 years or 150,000 miles (most domestic automakers suggest this). Meanwhile, many foreign automakers talk in substantially more frequent changes, as often as every 15,000 miles. So what gives?
The best thing to do, to be totally honest, is just to have your mechanic check your fluid next time you’re at the shop for routine service. You likely won’t know something’s wrong unless you ask to have it assessed. So, when we see you next in our service department at Harbin Automotive, just ask us to take a look!