What is Brake Fluid? How Does It Work and How Do You Change It?

June 1st, 2018 by

Car Brakes Exposed

The fluids in your vehicle are incredibly important for the way it functions. Proper lubrication is vital to your engine, radiator fluid is vital to prevent overheating, and brake fluid is vital to safely stopping your vehicle and avoiding accidents. Improper maintenance of brakes and brake fluid can lead to some dangerous situations on the road. In today’s blog, the Thompson Sales team offers up some information about brake fluid and some tips on how to maintain it.

What does brake fluid do?

Your vehicle’s brake fluid (or hydraulic fluid) helps all of the different components involved in the brake system move. Brake fluid works under both high pressure and high temperature and it’s what allows pushing on the brake pedal to stop or slow your vehicle. But how does it work?

When you push down on the brake pedal, the pedal pushes a piston that compresses and increases the pressure in the brake line. This pressurizes the brake fluid, which then pressurizes the brake pads to squeeze together on the rotors. This compression results in powerful friction between the brake pads and the rotors attached to the wheels, safely slowing your vehicle to a stop.

How do I check my brake fluid?

Depending on the type of vehicle you have, this could be a little different. As a rule, most modern vehicles have a reservoir for brake fluid. Search online or check your owner’s manual to find out where it is. 

Once you find it, unscrew the cap and check if the reservoir is clean. If it’s dirty, it could interfere with your brakes, so it’ll need to be cleaned. Check the level and refill it if it’s low. If it’s empty, it may be necessary to bleed the brake system. You should also check the color. If it’s a darker color, it’s time to get it changed by a professional.

If you’re checking or changing your brake fluid, you need to be extremely careful. Brake fluid is toxic, so you need to dispose of it properly and be careful handling it. Brake fluid will also eat paint away. You also need to be fast, because exposure to air can ruin brake fluid. For all these reasons, it’s best to let the pros handle brake fluid maintenance, beyond simply topping off the reservoir. Your safety is important, so go the extra mile and ensure your brakes are fully serviced.

What happens without brake fluid?

Without brake fluid, or with a brake system with contaminated brake fluid, you’re taking a huge risk. The fluid in the brake system is essential to it working. Without it, you’ll have no control over your speed or ability to stop. Don’t let your car run on very little or possibly contaminated brake fluid. If you think there’s an issue with the fluid or your brakes, make sure you get your car inspected by a trusted mechanic.

Where can I buy a new or used vehicle in Springfield, Missouri?

Looking for a new or used car? Need someone to check your brake fluid or service your vehicle? Thompson Sales offers the best in new and used vehicles, and our car sales team can help you find your perfect car, truck or SUV. Come and visit our dealership in Springfield, MO today.

Posted in Car Maintenance