As it goes with many aspects of our cars, until something goes wrong, we don’t think about getting it checked. The last thing you want is to be driving back from a weekend ski trip, on your way down from the Eisenhower tunnel, and start having brake issues. Taking good care of your brakes may mean more than just replacing the pads and rotors when they have worn down. It includes having your brake system flushed. What does having your brake system flushed entail? Read on because we are about to give you the full rundown on brake flushes!
First of all, what exactly is brake fluid and what does it do? Brake fluid is a substance that lives within the brake lines, also known as hydraulic fluid. It is hygroscopic, which means it actively attracts moisture from the air. This is often touted as the main reason to change your brake fluid. After stepping on the brake pedal, the pedal moves a piston in the master cylinder. The master cylinder then moves the brake fluid and sends the brake fluid into motion and compresses the piston inside the brake caliper. The compression increases the pressure inside the brake lines so every time you push down on the brake pedal, it delivers the force to the calipers. Finally, the pressure of the brake fluid will cause the caliper to squeeze down on the brake pads. Brake pads will then begin to clamp against the rotors creating friction and heat causing your vehicle to slow down or stop.
Should you do a brake flush? The answer is, YES! Now, the next question is why? As brake fluid ages it can get contaminated with all the small particles from the air and road. When these particles make their way into your brake fluid it, causing internal corrosion in the brake lines, calipers, and other components, reducing your braking performance. You might not notice this right away but as time goes on it is getting worse and worse, and the last thing you want is to have your brakes stop functioning when you are heading down a mountain pass. Lastly, if you have a car that has anti-lock braking (ABS) or traction control, these can generate more heat which can cause your brake fluid to break down as well.
How often should you do a brake flush? It is different for every car so make sure to check your owner’s manual. Most mechanics, including us at Thompson Automotive, recommend changing the fluid every 15,000 miles or if your fluid fails the test due to high moisture or copper content. The primary purpose of brake fluid is for your safety, so it is not a service you want to skip or avoid. If you can’t remember when the last time you changed your brake fluid, it’s probably about time. Give Thompson Automotive, the local mechanic near you, a call, and we are happy to take a look at your car!