DO I NEED A BRAKE FLUID CHANGE?
You’re taking a leisurely drive through your neighborhood… just kidding, we all know driving through the neighborhood means we’re probably headed to the grocery store, running the kids to school or sports practice, or headed to work. We’re usually so busy running errands that it becomes easy to forget about maintenance for our trusty steed. One of the things that is especially easy to forget until you notice a problem is brake maintenance, although its certainly one of the most important things to ask your mechanic to check! Read on to find out a little about how your brake system works, and why its important to change the fluid every now and then.
HOW DOES YOUR BRAKE SYSTEM WORK?
There are two types of brake systems commonly used, the drum brake system and the disc brake system. They both operate through fluid pressure, and both are important to service. Disc brakes have 3 major components, rotor (large round disc that fits inside the wheel of the car), the brake caliper (fits like a clamp on either side of the rotor), and the brake pads (sits inside the caliper on either side of the rotor). When the fluid pressure comes from the brake pedal through the brake line to the calipers, it causes the calipers to press the brake pads into either side of the rotor. This creates friction, causing the rotors, and thereby the wheels of the car, to slow. Drum brakes have a back plate, on top of which sits a wheel cylinder. The brake shoes sit circularly along the inside perimeter of the backplate. When fluid pressure reaches the wheel cylinder, it causes the brake shoes to press outward on the backplate lining, causing friction, which makes the car slow down.
BRAKE FLUID CHANGE?
The common factor you may notice in both types of brake systems is that fluid pressure is the “driving” force behind brake function. The brake fluid system is sealed (meaning there isn’t any exposure to open air), however, moisture getting into the brake line can be a problem. Brake fluid is a hydroscopic fluid, meaning it has a propensity or “likes” to absorb moisture. That, combined with the fact that your brakes operate through friction, which creates heat, can cause your brake fluid to boil, which will allow air into the system. The air is kind of like a butler that opens the door to usher in water. Think about a balloon. You blow it up, it is firm, and then you leave it for a few days, and you’ll notice it goes soft. This is because moisture has taken the place of air inside the balloon. It’s the same with the brake lines. This will decrease the pressure available to put into the brakes, and thereby, decrease the brake function. These are great reasons to make sure that you get your brake fluid changed. One of the fastest ways to get a sense of how often you might need to change the brake fluid is to check the owner’s manual of your car. You can also have a certified technician take a look at your vehicle and decipher if it’s time to change the brake fluid.
WHAT DO BRAKE FLUID PROBLEMS LOOK LIKE?
If you’re having problems associated with brake fluid issues, you will likely notice brake fade, meaning they just won’t operate as well. You’ll notice that your brakes may have felt very sensitive but now seem kind of dull. A fluid leak, which can happen, is very serious. You won’t just notice a difference in brake pressure, you won’t have any at all. This is why it is especially important to have a trusted mechanic check for your fluid levels, and also the quality of fluid. You can always give Advanced Auto Sports a call and one of our technicians will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also make an appointment here: https://www.advancedautosports.net/reservations