To ensure the safety of the driver and passengers, it is mandatory to check all vehicle components. The brakes are one of the parts that should not be neglected before driving. They need fluid to ensure their operation. This fluid, called “brake fluid”, must be well chosen and drained. Among a wide range of fluids available on the market, you don’t know which one to buy for your car’s braking system? So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of the things you ought to know about car brake fluid.
What role does brake fluid play?
Brake fluid is an essential part of a vehicle’s braking system. It is a hydraulic fluid that transfers braking force to all four wheels of the car when you step on the brake pedal. This ensures an instantaneous stop.
Like all hydraulic fluids, brake fluid is incompressible. This means that when pressure is applied (to the brake pedal), it is forced to flow through the entire braking system. The force exerted is transmitted to the hydraulic vacuum system and then to the brake pads, which finally bring the vehicle to a stop.
Thus, the brake fluid ensures the safety of your car and prevents accidents. It is strictly recommended to check its quality. Indeed, the presence of anomalies such as moisture absorbed by the air affects the performance of the brake fluid, which can cause serious problems for the operation of the braking system.
When to change the brake fluid?
Brake fluid is a hygroscopic fluid that can absorb moisture from the air. Because it is sensitive to moisture, it deteriorates over time. To find out how often you should change your brake fluid, refer to the Automotive Technical Review (ATR). The manufacturers also mention the procedures to follow when changing the fluid. On average, brake fluid should be changed every two to four years. Also, check its level and boiling temperature every year or every 10,000 km to prevent the brake system from malfunctioning. For this, you can request the intervention of a garage.
What type of brake fluid should I choose?
Choosing a brake fluid for your vehicle is not always easy. Several criteria must be taken into account when purchasing: the class, the brand, and the price. Three commercially available brake fluid grades are DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1. The acronym DOT stands for “Department of Transportation”.
The numbers indicate the boiling temperature of the brake fluid. If the label shows this symbol, it means that the fluid is manufactured in accordance with safety standards. Before choosing a fluid, make sure that the DOT is the same as the one used in the construction of the vehicle. Here is the correspondence of the different types of brake fluid available on the market:
- DOT 3: boiling at 205°C dry and 140°C wet
- DOT 4: boiling at 230°C dry and 155°C wet
- DOT 5.1: boiling at 260°C dry and 180°C wet.
If we refer to the quality/price ratio, DOT 3 brake fluid remains the most affordable on the market. Moreover, it is the type that can be adapted to any category of vehicle and requires very little maintenance. The DOT 4 class is also popular with drivers because of its higher quality than the DOT 3 class. DOT Class 5.1 brake fluid is the most suitable if your vehicle is a sports car.
How much does brake fluid cost?
It is not at all difficult to obtain brake fluid. Indeed, you can easily find it in car centers, gas stations, or department stores. The price of a liter of brake fluid varies from 5 to 17 euros, depending on its performance.
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