Brake fluid flush

In October I took our 2006 Subaru in for service at the dealer & told the service manager that the brakes were squealing when the car was cold in the morning. He advised me to get a brake fluide flush ($114) & to have the front & rear calipers cleaned, lubed & adjusted ($150). My bs detector went off when I heard “brake fluid flush” & I haven’t done it. The car has 50,000 miles on it, so I guess it’s reasonable to have the $150 job done on the calipers, although the brakes are no longer squealing. What do you think? Should I go for the flush?

What does your owner’s manual say about the frequency of replacing the brake fluid? Look at the brake fluid. Does it look clean and new or does it look old and dirty? He may have recommended new brake fluid because it looks old or because it is time to replace it. His reasons might be independent of your squealing complaint. If your owner’s manual says nothing about changning the brake fluid, it is probably a good idea to do it every three years or 30,000 miles. It isn’t that hard to do it on your own if you change your own oil.

$150 is a lot to clean and adjust the brakes. You should be able to get it done for less or just clean the brakes yourself. Just buy a can of brake cleaner and follow the directions on the can.

The squealing could very well be light surface rust being scraped off. Normal and no cause for concern.

Your BS detector appears to working correctly also. A brake fluid flush, while not a bad idea, would do nothing to cure brake squealing in the morning.

Thank goodness for functioning BS detectors! It has just saved you $114. Take good care of it.

I have to agree. The brake fluid flush may be a good idea, but it certainly has nothing to do with the noise. The only noise it will make is a crash if it fails. If you need it and don’t have it done, it is a serious safety issue and you likely will not have any indication until it is too late.

However brake fluid changes are usually scheduled in months not miles and your 2006 is too new for most recommendations.

BTW … Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

IIRC, Subaru’s maintenance schedule calls for brake fluid to be replaced at 30k. I will have to check my maintenance schedule to verify this, however.

Jeremy, VDCdriver pointed out that the Subaru Maintenance Handbook calls for brake fluid to be replaced at 30,000. I don’t have the receipt, but my book is stamped, so it should have been done. Thanks for your thoughts. JC

Joseph, I appreciate your thoughts. We’ve been having our cars maintained for warranty purposes, but obviously you don’t need to do that if you keep good records of the work. Also, its probably more convenient to take the cars to a local mechanic. Thanks. JC

Hello VDCdriver. Not only does the maintenance schedule call for replacement of the brake fluid at 30K, it calls it a “brake fluid flush” Thanks for the tip. JC

Disk brakes are naturally self adjusting. If you have drum brakes on the rear of your car, they should be equipped with a self-adjusting mechanism. Brakes need no cleaning either. Ask your dealer where he will apply lube. I have done our brake jobs for a long time. Maybe I should but have never lubed brake parts. A softer lining might help with the squealing.

If the brake pads are wearing fairly evenly (They never wear perfectly evenly.), then why mess with the calipers? A cleaning and adjusting on drum brakes makes no sense since they are self adjusting and if not out of adjustment shouldn’t be messed with adjustment-wise. If they are

out of adjustment there’s a problem with the self adjusting aspect so what good would merely cleaning and re-adjusting them do? If the rear calipers double as the parking brake the adjustment for them takes like 30 seconds sitting in the driver’s seat.

JC–I just pulled out the invoice from my 30k service, and I was billed approximately $350. for the following:

Oil & Oil Filter change
Fuel Filter change
Air Filter change
Coolant change
Brake Fluid change
ATF change
Differential Oil change
Tire Rotation and Balancing

(Note: By using “Subaru Bucks”, I only paid something on the order of $65. for the 30k service!)

Even though this service was performed by the dealer about 3 years ago, a comparison of what was performed for ~$350.00, as compared with the limited services that were discussed with you by the dealership, makes me think that the prices that you were quoted are really high. And, while I am not saying that you should not have the brake system flushed, I have to point out that the factory maintenance schedule calls only for the fluid to be changed, not flushed. If you saw something in print regarding a flush, that was likely from the dealership, rather than from the manufacturer.

Incidentally, the 60k service calls for the brake fluid to be changed, so if you have it done now at around 50k, I would suggest that you avoid this part of the 60k service.

Why would they want to clean the back brakes if they are going to get dirty again with the puddles and dirt?

Brakes need to be cleaned periodically. The buildup can cause the calipers to stick. Whenever I do a brake job I clean all parts very well and grease the pins.