How often should these be changed? How would I know? No warning lights blink so far and I have noticed no strange sounds or odor. One more thing, I am not car savvy so doing it myself is not an option. No tools.
Your owner’s manual should help guide you. Generally brake fluid should be changed every two to three years. It absorbs moisture and can become unsafe under certain conditions. It does not happen often but it can be serious and there is no warning.
PS fluid I believe is only usually changed when you need to fix a PS problem.
As Mr. Meehan said, the factory Maintenance Schedule that was provided with your car should be your guide. Look in your glove compartment and you will find it contained either in the Owner’s Manual or in a separate booklet. And, as he also said, the brake fluid needs to be changed every few years, as it absorbs moisture from the air and becomes diluted with water. This procedure is usually included in the maintenance schedule for Japanese cars, but may not be listed in the schedule for American cars. Whether changing the brake fluid is listed or not, it needs to be done, in my opinion, about every 3 years/36,000 miles.
Also–if you are waiting for lights to illuminate on your dashboard or for strange sounds or odors, you will be waiting until things reach a fairly critical stage. Routine maintenance is usually scheduled by the owner of the car, not by a light on the dashboard. Yes, I know that some cars do have lights to tell you when to change the oil, but nobody has a light to tell you to change the brake fluid.
An aware, alert car owner can save himself a lot of money simply by being aware of what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done, and also that person also needs to keep accurate records of maintenance procedures.
Your question will receive a variety of answers because these are still controversial issues. It wasn’t so far back that the general automotive wisdom was that these fluids are good for the life of the car. Change them? Never!
In recent years we have seen a trend develop that advises car owners to replace brake fluid at regular intervals. Some people do so, others shrug off the suggestion. Unfortunately there is no test to determine if the service is really necessary.
Another trend we have seen is that many car service shops try to sell every customer a brake flush each time a car enters the garage. Just say no. At least they are not pulling the same scam with power steering fluid. Not yet, anyway.
Follow the advice in your owner’s manual. If it says nothing at all about replacing brake fluid, then consider doing so anyway every seven years or so for your peace of mind.
The advice you’ve been given by the other posters has been spot-on.
Steve’s post brought up an excellent point. Many shops now, especially it seems quickie-lubes and chain shops like Midas, are now pushing flushes. They’re a revenue generator for the shops. Many shops are even using scare tactics to frighten people into getting these unnecessary flushes. Not only are they unnecessary, but done improperly they can and often do cause problems where none existed.
Unless you’re struggling to correct a problem, all the maintenance that’s necessary (and then some) is listed in your owner’s manual. The exception is if you have a regular independent mechanic that you’ve developed a long term relationship with (I strongly recommend this) and he shows you something extra that should be done. A good mechanic will do this.