Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Brake fluid/coolant changes interval?

So I have a 2014 Toyota Avalon and a 2011 Honda CRV. Are modern brake fluids still hygroscopic? What about coolant? They both have the pink stuff. Neither manufacturer recommends much of anything except at super-huge intervals. However, I tend to be skeptical of these claims as I am a survivor of the great GM Death-cool debacle.
I would tend to want to do both about every 3 years. Whaddaya think?
It seems most carmakers don’t care whether the car is healthy long-term…

Every 3 years is a little excessive! Modern coolants are good for nearly 100,000 miles, although I would change coolant at 50,000-60,000 miles or so. Brake fluids are still hygroscopic, but I would only change it when doing a brake job, in my case at 10 years on a Corolla. Cars with ABS and traction control should have their fluids changed when you do a brake job. Not necessarily every 3 years.

1 Like

Due to very low annual mileage on the Honda, and hybrid tech on the Avalon, waiting for brake work could be a very long time.

Either change the brake fluid every 3 years or buy a brake fluid tester for DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid - whatever you use - and change it when the moisture level is over about 3%. Moisture in the brake fluid will start corrosion inside the brake system. It boils at a lower temperature, too, but unless you live in the mountains or do track days, that isn’t likely to catch you out.

I did the first change of pink coolant on my '06 Matrix at 5 years, sooner than the manual says; and it looked like new.
I recently changed it again at the 10 year mark and again, it looked like new.
This time I used Zerex Asian and it at least looks exactly like Toyota pink.
This time I also replaced the thermostat and radiator cap (with OEM you betcha!)
I flush the brake fluid and power steering fluid every 3 years.
If it had ABS I’d do the brake fluid every 2 years.

Brake fluid every 2 years

Coolant every 5 years

I dunno, I had the death cool in my Pontiac and changed it out at a little over four years with more death cool. Two dealers and a private shop all recommended sticking with the Dex Cool as long as you are super careful not to introduce air in the system and change it every 5 years. Some will disagree but I have not had a problem. I guess I haven’t worried much about brake fluid changes. Have done it a couple times but in no specific time frame.

1 Like

Another recommendation for brake fluid intervals . . . not my recommendation, but one that many people use

Change it every time you need brake pads and/or rotors

Again . . . this is not my recommendation

I’m just repeating something I’ve heard other people say

I change my brake and clutch fluid when it’s no longer clear and clean looking, when it gets dirty, ever few years. This amounts to siphoning out what is in the master cylinder under the hood and replacing it. Every once in a long while, I’ll have all the brake fluid flushed out, probably once every five years.

Regarding coolant, I try to remember to drain and refill it every two years, but my vehicles use the yellow coolant, not the pink/orange long life coolant. With Toyota’s long life coolant, I’d drain and refill every five years.

Having recently experienced the pain of paying for a new head gasket on my car, I’m extra vigilant about keeping the fluids fresh.

speaking of coolant . . .

Ford has apparently switched to orange colored coolant, just a few years back

While Ford naturally will NOT say that it is dex-cool, or even dex-cool compatible, I’ve noticed that many aftermarket coolants, Zerex and a few others, market Dex-cool compatible coolant which ALSO meets the specs for Ford orange

Since we stock dex-cool, Ford gold and universal green . . . next time a Ford with factory orange coolant is due for a coolant service, I’m using dex-cool

If aftermarket dex-cool meets the Ford orange spec, then I figure genuine GM dex-cool is an extremely close match

Perhaps somebody will care to condemn me

Or perhaps somebody will condemn Ford, for essentially switching to what some of you guys call deathcool

What will you dex-cool haters do if you encounter a Ford with factory orange coolant that is in need of a coolant service?

Use Ford orange?

Use dex-cool, or an aftermarket dex-cool compatible, which also meets Ford orange specs?

switch to universal green?

1 Like

Every 3 years seems on the conservative side, but still reasonable intervals for servicing those systems and replacing the fluids. Both fluids degrade with time, so even if you don’t put a lot of miles on your cars, every 3 years still makes a lot of sense. The main downside to conservative maintenance intervals is some extra expense and the potential that the job is botched. A botched job can be worse on your car than a job done correctly, but delayed.

Even though nobody’s responded to my post, here is some added information, in case somebody IS interested . . .

If you read the entire article, you will see that dex-cool cas “de facto Ford approval”

That’s justification enough for me, as I had done some reading, and had already considered Ford orange and dex-cool to be functionally interchangeable

I consider this a fairly credible and useful article, FWIW

1 Like

OK @db4690 , I will condemn you.

1 Like

I won’t… Since I have Ford Orange coolant, this was pretty good info… :grinning:

1 Like

I would flush the brake fluid every year or two since it is hygroscopic. Using a tester can also give a good indication.