July 27, 2023
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Brake Fluid Change: Safe and Reliable Braking Performance

Regular brake fluid maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle’s brake system healthy and functioning properly. Learn what brake fluid does for your vehicle, why it needs to be routinely serviced, and some signs that indicate that it’s time for new brake fluid.

What is the purpose of brake fluid?

Modern vehicles use a hydraulic braking system, which utilizes hydraulic fluid (brake fluid) to bring your vehicle to a complete stop during the braking process. When your foot puts force on the brake pedal, brake fluid allows the transmission of pressure from point A to point B within your brake system, ultimately helping your car to come to a full stop. 

Brake fluid plays a crucial role in ensuring effective braking performance by enabling the proper operation of the braking system, including the application and release of brake pads or shoes against the rotors or drums, while helping to prevent corrosion.

What happens when the brake fluid is low?

When your vehicle is low on brake fluid, there are multiple issues that may arise if it’s not addressed promptly. Because brake fluid is responsible for transmitting pressure to the braking components, low brake fluid will cause reduced braking performance. The reduced amount of brake fluid may not be able to produce adequate pressure to engage your brakes fully. This can result in longer stopping distances when braking. 

Brake fluid also plays a role in dissipating heat generated during braking; when the brake fluid is low, the remaining fluid can overheat more easily, which can damage other components of the brake system.

In extreme cases, when brake fluid is very low, there is a possibility of a brake system malfunction, in which the brakes might fail to respond, which is very dangerous. 

In order to avoid any of these braking problems from happening, it is important to schedule regular brake system maintenance, including a routine brake fluid change. It is also necessary to know the signs of low brake fluid levels, so you know to look out for them.

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Signs that it’s time for a brake fluid change

There are several signs that it’s time to get your brake fluid changed:

  • Brake warning light
  • Soft or mushy brake pedal
  • Dark colored brake fluid
  • Burning smell after braking
  • Fluid leak

Brake Warning Light

Thankfully, when your car recognizes that it is low on an essential resource like brake fluid, it will likely let you know. Just like the oil change light, the brake warning light will generally illuminate on your dashboard to notify you that there is something wrong with your brake system. This warning light usually means one of two things: your parking brake is on, or you need a brake fluid change. If your parking brake is not on, schedule an appointment to get a brake fluid change. 

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Soft or Mushy Brake Pedal

Another sign that your brake fluid is beginning to run low is a soft feel to your brake pedal. You may notice that the pedal requires more effort to engage the brakes, or the pedal sinks closer to the floor when pressed. With reduced hydraulic fluid, your braking system will be less responsive to the force applied to the brake pedal. This ‘mushy’ feeling to your brake pedal may also indicate that there are air bubbles or moisture in the brake fluid, which would affect the brake pedal’s responsiveness and compromise your ability to brake safely.

Dark Colored Brake Fluid

If you decide to investigate yourself, and notice that your brake fluid appears dark in color, or contaminated, this is a sign that it needs to be changed. Brake fluid should appear clear or slightly amber in color, but it should not contain any contaminants like dirt or debris – this can impact its performance.

Burning Smell After Braking

A burning smell after extended or heavy braking is a sign that the brake fluid may have become overheated, which can cause worsened performance. Your brake system may be compromised in this situation, so the brake fluid should be changed as soon as possible.

Fluid Leak

Fluid leaks are another possible cause of a decrease in brake fluid levels. If you notice a fluid leak around the brake cylinder or brake lines, it is crucial to have them addressed immediately.

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Maintaining Brake Fluid for Optimal Safety: Schedule Routine Changes

It is important to schedule routine brake fluid changes to ensure the safety and performance of your vehicle. Regular brake fluid changes are vital in maintaining the integrity of your braking system. It is generally recommended to have your brake fluid changed every two to three years, or around every 45,000 miles

Curbee’s Brake Fluid Change service offers a reliable solution to keeping your brake fluid in top condition. Our technicians will come to you and perform a thorough brake fluid change, ensuring the proper function of your braking system. 

With Curbee’s Signature Health Check, you can enjoy peace of mind as our technicians regularly monitor your vehicle, notifying you when you are due for maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about your vehicle’s maintenance intervals. 

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