For obvious reasons... the brake system is the most important “system” on your vehicle. So, safe to say, never put off routine brake inspections & maintenance. And... yes, the pun was intended.
Brakes are a normal wear item for any car. Eventually, your brakes are going to need to be replaced for performance as well as safety reasons. Keeping up with routine brake inspections & brake maintenance can save you money in the long run by preventing “collateral” damage to brake rotors & brake calipers... not to mention preventing body damage because you were unable to stop as soon as you should have... or thought you would have.
Brake system component diagram shows complete brake system with disc brake pads, brake calipers, brake rotor discs, brake master cylinders, power brake booster, brake hoses, brake lines, drum brake shoes, wheel cylinders, and parking brake system.
All “Front brake service” are not created equal. We all have seen it, the amazing price for brake service but, is it really the “deal” you want? At Hoover Street Auto Repair we believe that the little details make a big difference. Our routine brake repair includes a thorough inspection, cleaning & lubricating calipers slide mechanisms to insure the caliper “floats” properly. Sticking calipers cause uneven brake pad wear & can cause brake pull to one side. Some shops would sell new brake calipers rather than taking the time to properly service the originals. We use a material on the back of the brake pads to minimize brake noise. We will resurface brake rotors when possible however, we recommend replacement of the rotors if we feel they are susceptible to warping which cause brake pulsation. There are many options of brake pads for nearly every vehicle, we recommend a couple of choices based on the vehicle & your driving habits. Yes, we can do an “amazing cheap” brake repair... but, we are confident, you’ll be much happier if we do it correctly the first time.
Brake fluid is a Hot topic... so just why should you Flush the Brake Hydraulic system? Why do many European manufactures state that brake system warranty is void if the brake fluid is not changed every 36 months or 36,000 miles? You probably never think about it but... Brake fluid has some very important requirements.
Just give me the facts & spare me the details... if that’s a statement you often say than I’ll say this... Yes, it is important & beneficial to you & your vehicle to change brake fluid every 3 years or 36,000 miles.
For those who want more details of why... keep reading:
- Brake fluid gets incredibly hot so, it requires a high boiling point. During average driving conditions temps will be 100°F to 200°F. But, more demanding conditions, when you need them the most, such as driving through mountains or heavy highway braking, temperatures can exceed 250°F. Or... if the brake system has a problem that causes one or more of the brakes to drag, brake fluid temperature can spike to well over 300°F. If the brake fluid boils the brake pedal will “fade”, feel spongy and likely result in nearly no braking response at all.
- Just like condensation forms on glass of ice tea on a hot summer day, condensation can form inside the brake system as it transitions from hot to cold and cold to hot. Also, brake fluid attracts moisture through microscopic pores in rubber hoses, past seals and exposure to moisture in the air. The problem is obviously worse in wet climates where humidity is high. After 18 months, the level of condensation can be as high as three percent. And after several years of service, it is not unusual to find brake fluid that contains as much as seven to eight percent water. So... what’s so bad about moisture in brake fluid? Note on the chart below, how just a little moisture will dramatically lower the boiling point... which increases the risk of brake failure.
- Moisture also increases the risk of expensive brake repairs. Well, as if risk of brake failure isn’t enough of a reason, how about minimizing the risk of expensive brake repairs. Since the mid 90’s most vehicles have Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS). ABS system has a high pressure pump with many small valves that send up to 16 “pulses” per second to individual wheels. The last thing you want is for moisture to create corrosion in the ABS pump / valve assembly... that corrosion can lead to some very expensive brake repairs.
- A number of import car makers recommend routine brake fluid changes for preventive maintenance at specific time/mileage intervals:
- Acura: 36 months
- Audi: 24 months
- BMW: 24 months, or when indicated by Service Inspection Indicator
- Honda: 36 months
- Jaguar: 24 months (all models except 2009 XF at 36 months)
- Land Rover: 36 months
- Lexus: 36 months or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first
- Mercedes-Benz: 24 months
- MINI: 24 months
- Saab: 48 months (all models except 9-7X)
- Smart: 24 months or 20,000 miles, which ever comes first
- Subaru: 30 months or 30,000 miles (normal service) or 15 months/15,000 miles (severe service).
- Suzuki: 24 months or 30,000 miles, which ever comes first (Forenza & Reno), 60 months or 60,000 miles (Grand Vitara and SX4).
- Volkswagen: 24 months (New Beetle, City Gold, City Jetta), 36 months (all other models except Routan).
- Volvo: 24 months or 37,000 miles (Normal), or 12 months (severe service).
- So... what about domestic manufactures... Good question. General Motors & Chrysler do not mention brake fluid in their maintenance schedule. Ford was recommending flushing the brake fluid every 36,000 miles or 3 years... however, currently, Ford no longer has time or mileage recommendation for flushing brake fluid.
To Summarize... I’m not an engineer nor am I running a test lab. But, we do work on a lot of vehicles every day, the bulk of which are 3 to 8 years old, and I see every day the negative effects of poor maintenance. I like to call “common sense based on a lot of experience”, proper, common sense maintenance is worth it. When we get “inside” a brake system or any other area of your vehicle... we can clearly see the ones that are “dying” a slow death or the ones that have many miles of “life” remaining. Like the cigarette smoker who says “been smoking for years and hasn’t hurt me yet”. When the surgeon is performing lung cancer surgery, that surgeon can clearly see the consequences of “poor health maintenance”. So... That’s my opinion, now you have to make your own decision that is best for you.