Common Brake Fluid Problems: Brake Maintenance

Brake Fluid, Braking System, Fluid Flush, Brake Maintenance

Common Brake Fluid Problems: Brake Maintenance

Brake Fluid, Braking System, Fluid Flush, Brake MaintenanceFor most motorists, brake fluid isn’t something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Today’s vehicles are fairly self-sufficient and require little attention. Vehicle owners are expected to follow the factory’s recommended maintenance intervals, which the dealer often covers for the first 2-5 years. But are you prepared to recognize and address common issues that occur unexpectedly? Your vehicle’s braking system is an essential safety feature that should have routine brake maintenance. This includes checking the fluid levels and a braking system fluid flush when required.


Common Brake Fluid Issues

Brake fluid flows through your automobile’s braking system. It enables your brakes to slow and stop your vehicle quickly, effectively, and safely. Your vehicle’s braking ability depends on a sufficient supply of clean fluid. The best way to maintain the integrity of your vehicle’s brakes is through routine maintenance. Several common issues can arise with improperly maintained fluid.

Moisture Contamination

One of the most common issues is moisture contamination. Brake fluid is hygroscopic and therefore, absorbs moisture from the air in the form of tiny water droplets. Unfortunately, moisture can lower the fluid’s boiling point, which causes the brakes to overheat. You can usually detect overheating brakes by the burning smell.

Vapor Lock

Too much moisture causes the brake fluid to boil and creates air bubbles in the brake lines, known as vapor lock.  Consequently, vapor lock results in a significant loss of braking power. This can be particularly dangerous in emergency braking situations, where you need maximum stopping power. A squishy feeling brake pedal may indicate it’s time for a brake fluid service check.

Fluid Degradation

Over time, the heat generated during braking causes the brake fluid to break down. Old fluid is less effective at slowing and stopping your car. Its degradation can be caused by age, moisture contamination, or other debris. Generally, auto manufacturers recommend maintenance every 2-4 years (more often if you live in a wet or humid environment).

Check Brake Fluid Level

On some vehicles, you can check the brake fluid level at home. It is important only to use the factory-recommended brake fluid indicated in your owner’s manual. Not all brake fluids are alike, so do not mix different types or brands of brake fluid. This can lead to compatibility issues and compromise the braking system’s performance.

  • Locate the brake fluid reservoir. It’s typically located near the firewall on the driver’s side of the engine compartment.
  • Clean the area around the reservoir cap to prevent dirt or debris from contaminating the reservoir.
  • Remove the cap and check the fluid level. The reservoir has minimum and maximum markings range. Ensure that the fluid level is within this range. If it is below the minimum mark, add more fluid.
  • Slowly pour the fluid into the reservoir, careful not to spill any on the surrounding components. Refrain from overfilling the reservoir, as this can cause the fluid to overflow during braking.
  • Once the fluid is within the correct range, replace the reservoir cap securely.

Braking System Fluid Flush

In addition to periodic brake fluid checks, it is also necessary to flush and replace your fluid. A braking system fluid flush involves removing the old fluid from the entire brake system and replacing it with fresh fluid. This process removes moisture, contaminants, and degraded fluid from the braking system. 

Recommended Intervals

The frequency of a brake fluid flush depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. As a general guideline, most owner’s manuals suggest replacing it every two to three years or every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Consult your auto mechanic for suggestions based on your driving habits and climate conditions.

Brake Maintenance in Jacksonville, FL

JJ’s Auto Care is family-owned & operated. It has been a complete service facility meeting your needs since 1991. We are proud to be the only shop in Jacksonville to earn the Blue Seal of Excellence by the Automotive Service Excellence. You can count on our knowledgeable technicians to address all of your brake system fluid, maintenance, and brake repair needs.

Schedule Your Brake Fluid Service

Call JJ Auto Care at (904) 721-6646 or visit us online to schedule a Brake Fluid service with one of our service writers.