Posted Tuesday, Jun 15, 2021
There are many different fluids in your car that are required to help it perform at its best. Perhaps one of the more overlooked fluids is brake fluid, which is vital to the function of your braking system. Most manufacturers have a set mileage or time frame that brake fluid should be changed by, but some simply recommend that you check the fluid level and condition periodically. This can leave drivers a little confused as to when their brake fluid needs to be changed, especially if they aren’t sure what clean fluid is supposed to look like.
What is Brake Fluid?
Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that transfers the pressure of your foot on the brake pedal to the brake pads on your wheels. While this fluid is in a sealed system, the lines that carry the fluid from your reservoir to your brakes can become worn or damaged and allow water, dust, or dirt to get into the fluid. This contamination makes the fluid less effective at performing its job. In addition, brake fluid simply breaks down over time due to use. This is why drivers need to pay attention to how their brakes are performing; poorly performing brakes can leave you at a greater risk of getting into an accident due to braking issues.
Signs that Your Brake Fluid Needs to be Changed
Your ABS Light Comes On
One of the simplest indicators that your brake fluid either needs a chance or needs a top-off is if the Anti-Lock Braking System, or ABS, light on your dashboard turns on. While some older cars may not have an ABS light, newer vehicles are equipped with this indicator to let you know if there is something amiss with your fluid.
Another way to tell if your brake fluid is low or needs to be replaced is if your brake pedal isn’t responding like it used to. If your pedal feels firmer than usual, the fluid could be contaminated. If it feels easier or softer when you press the pedal down, this can mean that your fluid is getting low.
Strange Noises When Braking
If your braking system doesn’t have enough fluid in it, or if the fluid is old, your brakes may begin to make noise. At this point, it is important to have your brakes checked as soon as you can, before any damage occurs to your braking system.
Brake Pads Not Functioning as Well
When your brake fluid is dirty or low, it isn’t able to depress your brake pads as efficiently as it should. This can cause uneven wear or even damage to your brake pads, which can cause grinding, squeaking, or squealing noises when you use your brakes.
A Burning Smell
If you’re noticing a burning smell or see smoke after using your brakes over a period of time, this can mean that your brakes are overheating. If this happens, you need to pull over as soon as possible in order to allow the brakes to cool. If you keep driving, the overheated fluid can actually lead to brake failure, causing you to be unable to stop.
If you’re noticing that your brakes aren’t performing as well as they used to, it is important to have your braking system checked as soon as possible to avoid losing braking function. Our free inspection can tell you whether or not anything is wrong with your braking system, and give you an estimate on the cost of repairs. Feel free to give us a call or use our website to set up an appointment that suits your schedule.