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Before you head out on a trip, it’s a good idea to check all the fluids and the brakes. However, one thing that many people forget about checking is the brake fluid. Without brake fluid, no matter how good the brakes are, they’re not going to work. Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid. When you press on the brake pedal, it pushes a piston in the master cylinder, which holds the brake fluid.
The piston forces the brake fluid through the brake lines to the calipers and wheel cylinders, which forces the calipers to close and the wheel cylinders to open. This action presses the brake pads or shoes against the rotors or drums respectively. When you release the brake pedal, the brake fluid flows back into the master cylinder and releases the calipers and wheel cylinders.
Importance of Brake Fluid Checks
Over time, brake fluid deteriorates. It can also leak. The braking system is a closed system, which means the fluid can’t evaporate or spill out. Thus, if the brake fluid is low, there is most likely a leak somewhere, or the master cylinder cap is compromised.
Although the brake system is closed, the brake fluid, which is hygroscopic – it attracts moisture from the humidity in the air. As it ages, it continues to attract moisture and degrades. When the brake fluid degrades, it can cause several issues, including:
- Reduced Braking Performance: Moisture in the brake fluid reduces its boiling point. Under heavy braking, the brake fluid boils, which gives you a spongy pedal and reduced braking power.
- Corrosion: Too much moisture in the brake fluid can rust brake lines, the master cylinder, calipers and wheel cylinders.
- Brake Fade: When brakes lose their effectiveness, that is brake fade. It is worse when there is more moisture in the brake fluid. This leads to longer stopping times and an increase in the risk of losing control.
Signs of Brake Fluid Issues
Because the deterioration of brake fluid takes time, most people don’t realize it until it’s too late. This is the major reason you should have the brake fluid inspected. If you notice the following signs, bring your vehicle to Maxi Auto Repair and Service Hodges in Jacksonville FL, for repair:
- Spongy brake pedal.
- Reduced braking performance.
- Brake or ABS warning lights.
- Unusual noises when you use the brakes.
- Leaking brake fluid.
Inspecting the Brake Fluid
Pre trip inspections, especially brake fluid inspections, are important for several reasons, including:
- Prevention of brake failure.
- Enhanced braking performance.
- Long-term cost savings.
- Peace of mind.
Your brake specialist at Maxi Auto Repair and Service in Jacksonville FL, can inspect your brake fluid to see if you need a brake fluid flush before you go on a trip. Brake fluid inspections consist of the following:
- Checking the fluid level in the master cylinder. You can find the master cylinder on the firewall on the driver’s side of the engine compartment. The fluid must be between the MIN and MAX marks.
- Inspecting the color. Brake fluid is clear or may have a slightly amber color. If the brake fluid is brown or black, it’s contaminated.
- Our diagnostic equipment tests for moisture in the brake fluid.
If you regularly get brake fluid maintenance by flushing the brake system, it’s still a good idea to inspect the brake fluid before heading out on a trip.
Contact Maxi Auto Repair and Service
Whether you need preventative maintenance, auto repair, tire repair & services, auto air conditioner repair & services, wheel alignment, shocks & struts replacement or other work on your vehicle, contact Maxi Auto Repair and Service to schedule an appointment or direct the tow truck to our closest location.