How To Change Brake Fluid By Yourself
If you’re planning to change your car’s brake fluid by yourself, it’s critical to read this guide. Changing brake fluid might seem intimidating at first, but it’s a simple process that can save you a lot of money if you do it correctly. Your brakes are an essential component of your vehicle, so it’s vital to know how to maintain them. Brake fluid is used to transmit force from the brake pedal to the brake caliper, making it a critical component of your car’s braking system. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know to change brake fluid by yourself.
What Is Brake Fluid?
Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid responsible for transferring pressure from the brake pedal to the brakes. It’s typically made up of glycol ether or polyethylene glycol, which is mixed in with additives that help protect the brake system from rust and corrosion. There are two primary types of brake fluid, DOT3 and DOT4.
DOT3 brake fluid is a glycol-based fluid that is commonly used in typical vehicles. It has a boiling point of approximately 401°F (205°C) and a wet boiling point of 284°F (140°C).
DOT4 brake fluid, on the other hand, is a glycol ether/borate ester fluid that has a boiling point of approximately 446°F (230°C) and a wet boiling point of 311°F (155°C).
It’s essential to understand the difference between DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluid before selecting which one to use. DOT4 is a higher-quality fluid that is compatible with most cars, making it ideal for situations where there is a lot of heat or heavy usage. DOT3, on the other hand, has a lower boiling point and should be used in cars that don’t require a lot of driving.
When Should You Change Your Brake Fluid?
Generally, brake fluid should be replaced every two to three years. However, this schedule varies depending on the car manufacturer and the type of vehicle. It’s critical to check your car owner’s manual or speak with a brake service professional to determine the appropriate timing of replacement of your brake fluid.
If you notice any of these signs below, it’s time to change your brake fluid:
• Reduced braking performance
• Spongy brake pedal
• Unusual noises when braking
• The warning light for brake fluid
• Leaking brake fluid
How to Change Your Brake Fluid
Here is a step-by-step guide to changing your brake fluid:
• Brake fluid
• A wrench
• Brake bleeding kit (optional)
• A container or bucket
• Rubber gloves
Step 1: Prepping the Car
The first step is to place your car on a flat surface and put the handbrake on. Next, open the hood and locate the brake master cylinder. It’s usually located near the driver’s seat, close to the firewall. Remove the cap of the master cylinder and place it aside. It’s important to ensure that the cap is in excellent condition and clean during the process.
Step 2: Removing Old Brake Fluid
Using a wrench, loosen the bleeder valve of each wheel cylinder or caliper. It’s wise to start at the wheel cylinder or caliper furthest from the master cylinder and work your way towards it. Once you’ve located the valve, attach a rubber hose to the valve and put the other end in a container to capture the old brake fluid.
It’s essential to note that it’s not acceptable to reuse old brake fluid as it contains contaminants that negatively influence brake performance. Additionally, never let the master cylinder go dry to avoid the introduction of air into the system.
Step 3: Adding New Brake Fluid
Fill the master cylinder with fresh brake fluid. Once you’ve opened the valve, press and hold the brake pedal gently till there is a firmness in the pedal, indicating the removal of any air bubbles from the system. Repeat this process until the fluid that appears in the container is clear.
It’s best to continue checking the master cylinder because it can run out of fluid during the process. Always ensure to add brake fluid until it’s slightly above the reservoir line.
Step 4: Bleeding the Brake System
Once you’ve replaced or added new brake fluid, it’s time to bleed the braking system. Bleeding is necessary to fix any air bubbles in the system, and this will remove air bubbles and ensure brake performance. This step is recommended if you replaced the brake lines, calipers or master cylinder.
Attach a brake bleeding kit to the bleeder valve and follow the instructions in the kit to complete the bleeding process. This step is essential since bubbles in the brake lines can cause a spongy brake pedal or decreased braking power.
Step 5: Testing the Brake System
Finally, test the brake system by pumping the pedals a few times. Ensure that the brake warning light has disappeared after the initial start-up. Check that the brake pedal feels normal and that there are no strange noises when stopping. If everything looks and feels good, that’s it. Your brakes are now ready for action.
Q. How much does it cost to change brake fluid?
A. The cost of changing brake fluid depends on the brand and quality of the brake fluid. However, it typically ranges from $70 to $200, inclusive of the labor cost.
Q. Can I use any brake fluid on my vehicle?
A. No, It’s essential to use the recommended brake fluid by the manufacturer of your car.
Q. What happens if I don’t change my brake fluid?
A. If you don’t change your brake fluid, it will degrade, and eventually, your brakes will not be able to stop your vehicle. This degradation occurs over time due to the water content and the heat generated by the brake system.
Q. Is it possible to change the brake fluid myself?
A. Yes, changing brake fluid is simple, and you can do it yourself as long as you have the necessary equipment and follow the correct steps.
In conclusion, brake fluid is an essential component of your car’s braking system. It requires attention and maintenance to ensure optimal brake performance. Changing brake fluid is a simple process that can save you time and money, making it a vital skill for a car owner. Ensure to follow the steps outlined above to complete the process correctly. If you’re not confident about the process, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional. In the end, your safety and that of other road users come first.