Your brake fluid is indispensable. Without it, your brakes wouldn’t function at all. Sadly, it often gets ignored. In this article, we’ll talk about what brake fluid does and why it’s so important. We’ll also discuss what steps you should take to properly maintain your vehicle’s brake fluid.
What is brake fluid, and why is it important?
Brake fluid is a hydraulic liquid that flows throughout your braking system and engine. Since
it’s incompressible, it can move force from the brake pedal to the calipers. This pressure causes
the calipers to clamp down onto the rotors, applying the brakes. Simply put, your brakes
wouldn’t function without the fluid.
Modern fluids for the brake system have many beneficial qualities. Since fluid circulates throughout the
engine, it can stand up to high temperatures. To prevent it from vaporizing, it has a very high
boiling point. This helps ensure your system has the proper amount of fluid in it. This fluid is
also designed to keep a constant viscosity, no matter what extreme temperature it’s exposed to.
Since engines have intricate passages and valving, the fluid needs to be able to flow
smoothly. Additionally, fluid contains anti-corrosive chemicals that help preserve the
metal components of the engine. All these features of fluid make it a vital part of the
engine and braking system.
There are several different types of fluid. Most of them are glycol-ether-based, a formula
that can absorb moisture from its atmosphere. The moisture absorbed by the fluid can
gradually reduce its boiling point, which can lead to decreased stopping ability. Too much
moisture in the fluid can also damage metal engine components, causing them to rust. To
avoid these issues, your fluid should be tested regularly and replaced periodically.
How often does brake fluid need to be changed?
Different types of fluids have different changing intervals. Your owner’s manual may
have information specific to your make and model regarding brake fluid and its maintenance. At
Carlson Automotive, we typically suggest brake fluid replacement at least every year or two.
To get more information on the status of your fluid, take a look at it. Your brake fluid’s
appearance changes as it gets older. Most fluid starts as clear or amber-colored. Over
time, it becomes contaminated with rust particles and debris from the engine. This changes the
appearance to a cloudy, brown fluid. This is a good indicator that your brake fluid needs
replacing. Additionally, pay attention to your fluid levels. An occasional decrease in brake fluid
is perfectly normal, as long as it’s a small quantity. If you always need to top off your brake
fluid, it could indicate an issue that needs repair.
We also suggest getting your fluid tested for its moisture content. This helps determine its
composition and quality. Most shops will do this on request when you get your oil changed.
This test can help you decide what steps you need to take for your brake fluid maintenance.
Do you need your fluid replaced or tested? Our experienced technicians at Carlson
Automotive are here for you. Give us a call today at (651) 458-5158 for our Cottage Grove
location, or (651) 578-0885 for our Maplewood location. You can also request an appointment
Transmission Fluid 101: Why It’s Important and How to Maintain It
You may or may not know this, but taking care of your transmission fluid is equally as important as routine oil changes. It keeps your transmission healthy, which saves you money on big repairs in the long run. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about your transmission fluid. We’ll also talk about how to check the status of your transmission fluid to ensure it’s in top condition. Let’s dive in.
What is transmission fluid, and why is it important?
Your vehicle’s transmission is responsible for shifting into different gears, such as reverse, park, or drive. All this shifting involves a lot of work in the transmission. That’s where transmission fluid comes in. The fluid’s job is to lubricate the metal transmission components. Its goal is to reduce damage and wear on these parts. Transmission fluid also functions as a coolant so the transmission stays at an optimal temperature.
Types of transmission fluid
There are several types of transmission fluids out there. The type needed for your vehicle depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Most transmission fluids are classified as either automatic or manual transmission fluid. There are also specialty fluids for specified transmissions.
Manual transmission fluid is the less common of the two main types of fluid. It’s typically only used in older models with manual transmissions. These days, most newly-manufactured manual transmission vehicles require automatic transmission fluid.
Automatic transmission fluid is thinner than its manual counterpart. This makes it easier to shift in and out of gear, especially in colder climates. Automatic transmission fluid helps with lots of engine functions, such as:
- Gear lubrication
- Transmission coolant
- Brake band friction
- Torque converter operation
- Valve body operation
- Clutch operation
Another consideration for transmission fluid is synthetic versus traditional transmission fluid. Synthetic fluid is prepared to stand up to the high temperatures inside the engine. On the other
hand, traditional transmission fluid is made of crude oil that can oxidize at high temperatures. The type of transmission fluid you need depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Consult a transmission expert or your owner’s manual to point you in the right direction.
How to check your transmission fluid
Transmission fluid needs to be replaced periodically. Regularly checking it will help you know whether maintenance is necessary. This can be done by locating the transmission dipstick. It’s important to note that some modern vehicles have sealed transmissions, which don’t require maintenance at all. If that’s the case, consult your manufacturer or owner’s manual for more information.
If the transmission isn’t sealed, you can find the dipstick in the engine compartment beneath the hood. To check your fluid level, take the dipstick out, and wipe it clean. Then, slowly put it backandremoveitagain. Once you’ve done this, you can read your current fluid level by using the markings on the dipstick. A frequent issue with low fluid indicates a leak somewhere in your engine. In this case, it’s a good idea to bring your car to a service provider for diagnostics.
After assessing the fluid level, examine its color. Healthy transmission fluid has a pinkish-red color. If it’s slightly darker and looks more brownish-red, it means it’s time to get your fluid replaced. If your fluid is dark brown or black, it suggests a more serious problem that requires prompt attention.
Regular maintenance of your transmission fluid helps ensure a healthy transmission. This helps you avoid major costs down the road. Do you have questions about your transmission fluid? Our certified technicians at Carlson Automotive can help. Give us a call today at (651) 458-5158 for our Cottage Grove location, or (651) 578-0885 for our Maplewood location.