We can all agree that one of the most important features of our cars are our brakes. Without good functioning brakes we end up in an accident. Most of us think first about the brake pads and then the drums. Few think about their brake fluid. However, it is an integral part of our car’s braking system.
What Does it Do?
It is a hydraulic fluid that transmits the pressure you apply to the brake pedal to the brakes themselves. It travels through pistons, hoses and lines under pressure and often at a high temperature. When it’s older or deteriorating, it can’t stop your car as it should.
Differences in Brake Fluids
If you’ve ever been in an automotive store and looked at brake fluid, you may have noticed that there are different types. The ratings are referred to as DOT ratings for Department of Transportation. There are three fluids available DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.1. Your owners manual will tell you what the right fluid for your car is, however, they are backward compatible. That means if your car says it takes DOT 3 fluid, you can put 4 or 5.1 in, however, you can’t put 3 in a car that says it needs DOT 5.1. The label corresponds to its tolerance to heat – the higher the number, the more heat resistant.
Brake Fluid Maintenance
One of the easiest things you can do to keep your car’s braking system in good working order is to check your brake fluid level. Just like many other fluids, there is a reservoir in your car that you can look at and check its level. When it is low, you need to check your car’s manual and add the right type of fluid. However, there comes a point when it’s time to flush your braking system. This is because brake fluid both absorbs water and deteriorates over time and that makes it less effective.
One of the most common questions we have is how often your car needs the brake fluid flushed and replaced. That depends on the car. Some recommend 2 years/20,000 miles although more often it’s 45,000 miles or every three years, whichever comes first. If you’re concerned about your car’s brake system, come to Oldsmar Automotive for a check. We’ll let you know if you need a flush, new pads or something more. Call us at (727) 784-3501 to schedule an appointment or stop by 3166 Tampa Road in Oldsmar with your questions.