Replacing your brake fluid is certainly not a job for new vehicle owners or beginners. It’s an abrasive substance that can cause harm to vehicle parts and people alike. It can be dangerous if something goes wrong.
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Yet brake fluid is essential to your safety as a driver. So, it’s important to know when your brake fluid should be replaced. If you’re going to change your own fluid, we also offer some tips on how to do that safely. But if you’re not comfortable with this project, you should see a professional.
Watch for warning signs
There are several warning signs that tell you when it’s time to replace your brake fluid. If you find yourself pressing hard on the brakes, pumping the brake pedal often, or if your dashboard brake warning light is on, you may have a brake fluid leak.
Typically, your brake fluid should be changed every two years, or every 20,000 miles, though this schedule could be more frequent based on your driving habits. Be proactive about when to check your brake fluid to keep your vehicle in good working condition. Review your owner’s manual and consult with a professional if you have concerns or want a consistent maintenance schedule.
Moisture issues and contaminated braking fluid can lead to diminished braking ability, or even severe damage to your entire braking system. Flushing and then replacing your brake fluid is inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing rusted parts, even at a dealership.
Healthy brake fluid is clear or light brown, but it will darken with age and use due to water contamination. Dark brake fluid should be replaced as soon as possible.
How can I replace my own brake fluid?
Changing your own brake fluid is a task solely for professionals and owners with mechanical experience. While coolant can easily be drained from the reservoir, brake fluid is corrosive, harming paint, parts, and yourself if not handled properly.
If you choose to change it yourself, you must wear proper protective gear (eyewear and nitrile gloves) and take safety precautions — anything that contacts brake fluid must be flushed with water immediately.
By knowing when, why and how to replace your brake fluid, you can make repairs and maintenance so much easier for yourself. Remember, if you’re not comfortable replacing your own brake fluid, there’s no shame in contacting a local professional to give you a helping hand. It’s far easier than having a major issue with your vehicle.
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