As you know, the brakes are one of the most important components of any vehicle since it is in charge of stopping and slowing down your car on time. Keeping your brake system in good condition by learning how to change your brake fluid is one of the best ways to ensure that the vehicle is working properly and has a long lifespan, and keeps you safe at the same time.
Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic brakes and clutch applications in your car. It is used to transfer force into pressure to create a high amount of braking force. Brake pressure pushes brake fluid down to your brakes and pushes the pads on the rotor to stop the vehicle on time.
Brake fluid is the brake system’s life source and is commonly overlooked but a huge part of your vehicle. Let’s see the importance of brake fluid, the different kinds of fluid, the signs of needing a brake fluid change, and the overall brake fluid leak replacement cost. Knowing this information can help car owners know the correct time of when to change your brake fluid.
What is brake fluid?
Brake fluid is the specific hydraulic fluid used in the hydraulic clutch and brake mechanisms in your car. The hydraulic fluid is how the power is transferred in hydraulic machinery – aka, your vehicle.
- Hydraulic Brake – The hydraulic brake is the braking mechanism that uses brake fluid to transfer pressure from the system to the brake mechanism to slow down your wheels and stop the car.
- Hydraulic Clutch – The hydraulic clutch is the device that engages and disengages the transmission during use.
The brake fluid in your car operates at higher temperatures and high pressure. You might need to check levels and analyze brake fluid in the vehicle to see if you have to change your brake fluid. Without the brake fluid at the correct levels, your vehicle would no longer come to a stop when you press down physically on the brake pedal.
This means that every single car must get the right kind of brake fluid and the right amount of brake fluid. If your car does not meet these requirements, you will need to change your brake fluid.
In addition, even if you have added the right amount of brake fluid to your vehicle and you have added enough to meet the certain level requirement, sometimes the oil and fluid just get dirty or contaminated over time and prolonged use, meaning you need to check the brake fluid flush cost.
Keep in mind some certain signs and symptoms can alert you it is the proper time to change your brake fluid.
Types of Brake Fluid
There are different kinds of brake fluid that you can purchase from a store – but be aware that not every kind of fluid will be the right kind for your car. You need to look back at your specific car’s manual to ensure you know the particular type when finding out how to change your brake fluid.
- This glycol-based fluid has a low boiling point compared to other offices and can easily absorb any excess moisture from the outside air or the leaks within the gas line.
- For this reason, you need to keep the brake line completely sealed to avoid any contamination from outside air and moisture.
- This is very similar to DOT3, but additives are included to change the temperature at which the liquid boils. These fluids are also standard for most modern vehicles on the market today, being able to handle high temperatures.
- However, this high-temperature resistance means you need to change your brake fluid frequently to avoid any deterioration.
- This brake fluid is more specific and is not compatible with the previous types mentioned. This type of fluid is silicone-based and does not absorb any water from outside air or the lines.
- This type has a higher boiling point but can also cause your brakes to become more susceptible to corrosion after extensive use. If you notice any signs of corrosion, you will have to change your brake fluid.
Signs You Need To Change Your Brake Fluid
- One of the quickest ways to know it is time to change your brake fluid is if the ABS light turns on and illuminates on your dashboard, indicating you have an issue that needs to be addressed right away.
- ABS in your vehicle stands for Anti-lock braking system, meaning that your ABS light will come on if you need to add extra brake fluid or completely replace the fluid in your car.
- Adding brake fluid to your car typically costs between $73 and $104 for the majority of vehicles on the market today.
Puddle of Brake Fluid
- If you notice a small puddle of brake fluid near the wheels or wheels under the car, then the brake fluid leaks. If the brake master cylinder is leaking or the brake lines are leaking, this is a sign you need to change your brake fluid.
Brake Pedal Goes to the Floor
- The brake pedal pressing down to the floor usually occurs when the brake pedal feels soft and squishy. When you have a big brake fluid leak and a problem with the brake master cylinder, you can sometimes experience a brake pedal sink.
- This can cause the brake pedal to go to the floor, showing the brake fluid is not circulating properly, and you need to change your brake fluid.
Soft Brake Pedal
- If you find that the pedal is getting harder to press down or the pedal has become soft and spongy, this means you probably need to change your brake fluid.
- Air in the Brake Line – One of the leading causes of a soft brake pedal is air in the brake lines. This can prevent the brake fluid from flowing properly and traveling correctly. By fixing the air in the brake lines, you can learn how to change your brake fluid safely.
- Corrosion – Over time, the rust can cause small holes and damage in the steel tubing to develop, causing the brake fluid to leak out of the system. If you don’t change your brake fluid, this can lead to a loss of hydraulic pressure and a soft brake pedal.
- Leaking Disc Brake Calipers – The brake disc calipers are the component that clamps the brake pad down against the brake rotors to slow down the vehicle. If the brake disc calipers become corroded, the internal piston seal can leak brake fluid, causing a soft brake pedal.
- If you do not consistently change your brake fluid, or you use the wrong kind, the brakes will alert the driver by making loud and strange noises. If your brakes make any noise while driving, take your vehicle to a mechanism to change your brake fluid.
Brake Pad Problems
- If you have not changed your brake fluid, this can harm the brake pad’s longevity. If your brake pads are not working as they used to and you hear frequent sounds like squealing, grinding, or squeaking, then this can mean the brake fluid is to blame.
- Replacing your brake pads costs between $150-$300 per axle, depending on the severity of the problems and the type of car you drive.
- A burning smell can sometimes indicate that your engine or other internal parts could be at risk of a fire hazard. Therefore, the sooner you change your brake fluid, the sooner you can safely drive your car.
How to Check Your Brake Fluid
Before you can learn how to change your brake fluid, you need to know how to check the fluid for health and longevity.
- Keep Everything Clean – Even the smallest bit of dirt in the brake fluid can contaminate the liquid and the whole system, causing a break of seals and poor performance, eventually leading to brake failure.
- Open the Fluid Reservoir – Make sure that you do this as fast as possible, since prolonged exposure to air can cause the brake fluid to become contaminated. After this, analyze the fluid level and see if there is the right amount added or if you need to change your brake fluid.
- Check the Brake Fluid – Over time, brake fluid can break down and deteriorate, so if you have not changed your brake fluid within two years, then you should replace the fluid.
How to Change Your Brake Fluid
- Jack Your Car – First, jack up your car to access the brake’s bleeder screws located on your wheel caliper or brake cylinder.
- Remove the Master Cylinder – Once you have located the screws, remove the master cylinder cap and the existing brake fluid using a vacuum pump to suck out the liquid.
- Bleed the Brakes – Once this is done, use the brake bleeder hose and insert the end into the fresh brake fluid, transporting the fresh fluid from the reservoir to the mechanism. Loosen the screw and press the brake pedal until there are no air bubbles.
- Repeat the Bleeding Process – After you have completed these steps, tighten the bleeder screw and continue until there are no more bubbles when changing the fluid.
- Add Brake Fluid – Add fresh brake fluid to the reservoir and make sure it remains full throughout the process.
- Repeat Until Finished – Repeat these steps for each brake caliper and top up the final reservoir and replace the cap.
Learning how to change your brake fluid on your own can save some money on the total brake fluid flush cost and ensure that you will not harm any other components.
Brake Fluid Leak Repair Cost
If you change your brake fluid, but still notice concerns with your car’s performance, you may have a leaking brake line. In this case, you will have to most likely bring your vehicle to the mechanic so they can perform the procedure before it gets any worse.
- If you have a brake master cylinder leak, then the parts’ repair cost is between $100 and $200, and the labor cost is between $80 and $140. The replacement cost of the brake master cylinder leak has a parts cost of around $200 to $300, with the labor cost coming in between $40 and $80.
- The brake line fluid leak comes out to a total of $100 to $200 for the repair cost, while the brake caliper fluid leak has a repair cost on just one side of between $100 for $200 of just the parts, and the labor cost of between $80 and $100.
- The replacement price on one side of the brake caliper leak comes out to between $40 and $80 for the labor, and $200 to $300 for the parts.
- The rear drum cylinder fluid leak has a repair price of between $10 and $20 for hte parts, while the labor cost is between $80 and $100. The total replacement price for the rear drum cylinder brake fluid leak comes out to between $25 and $40 for the parts, and $40 to $80 for the labor costs.
As long as you have enough car experience and research on what you are doing, you can fix this leak yourself. For everyone else who does not have sufficient car knowledge, keep up to date with learning how to change your brake fluid, so you don’t have to pay for these repair costs.
The Bottom Line
By learning how to change your brake fluid, you can prevent unwanted symptoms in your car, like a soft brake pedal, brake line leaks, strange noises, a burning smell, brake pad problems, puddles of brake fluid, and the ABS light coming on in your dashboard! Knowing when to change your brake fluid is a crucial maintenance procedure that all car owners must know.