Changeout hydraulic fluids in Honda CRV



I drive a 2002 Honda CRV with 87k mi. The local dealer is advising me to flush and change out the brake, and power steering fluids. My regular mechanic says that this service in not needed and likely to cause trouble. I have not had any trouble in either of these systems so far.

I tend to trust my mechanic (who is not trying to sell me anything).

Who to believe?


I don’t know what your owner’s manual says, but in the past, almost no manufactrurer recommended this.

If the CRV had ABS brakes, I would completely change out the brake fluid at the next brake job.

I have driven cars with power steering since 1965, some to 350,000 miles and never changed out the fluld, except on a 1976 Ford when the steering box (a common Ford problem) had to be replaced.

Read you owner’s manual first, and then decide.

Your dealer needs the business, but it’s your money.


Brake fluid should be changed every 3 yrs/30k miles, due to its hygroscopic nature. (That means it absorbs moisture from the air) Brake fluid that is diluted with moisture can lead to brake failure when the brakes are used heavily, and can also lead to corrosion of parts of the brake hydraulic system.

Power steering fluid is probably safe to leave in there for the life of the vehicle.

However, there are at least two other fluids that you probably need to change.
Transmission fluid should be changed every 3 yrs/30k miles in order to avoid problems, and on Hondas, it should be Honda’s own fluid that is used.
On CR-Vs, there is a known issue with the center differential if the fluid is not changed at least every 60k miles. Only genuine Honda Dual-Pump Fluid should be used in the diff.

Additionally, your coolant should be changed by 90k miles, so I would advise you to have that done at this time also. Truthfully, I think that your mechanic could use an update on his knowledge of maintenance intervals.


I have an '03 Civic EX with ABS brakes, Honda recommends changing the brake fluid every 3 years (regardless of miles driven) on my Civic. If your CRV has ABS brakes the same recommendation is likely.

As per power steering fluid, that rarely needs changing. I’ve done my brake fluid exchange twice but have yet to do power steering. When the weather is warmer I might take a turkey baster and empty the power steering resorvior and refill it with Honda brand power steering fluid, but I don’t have a sense of urgency about it.


The brake fluid absolutely should be changed every three years regardless of mileage. As for power steering fluid, you don’t need to perform this service but I can’t imagine that fluid doesn’t wear out at all which is why I always empty the reservoir once a year with the turkey baster method and refill with Genuine Honda Power Steering Fluid, you don’t need to pay the high price for the dealership flush this way.


Brake fluid is required every 2-4 years dependent on vehicle type used as it gains moisture over time causing stopping and rust problems. Power steering consider a lifetime fluid.


The brake fluid should be changed because brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from the air contaminating the brake fluid.

The power steering fluid should be changed because the power steering fluid becomes oxidized from being heated up and cooled down. This depletes the addditives in the fluid that keeps the seals in the power steering system from drying out. It’s far cheaper to replace the power steering fluid than it is to replace a power steering pump and/or rack and pinion assembly because the fluid was neglected causing the seals to fail.



P.S. fluid should be changed for the same reason transmission fluid needs to be changed…And you should clean the filter that hides in the plastic P.S. fluid reservoir…

With today’s tender and expensive to repair ABS brake systems with their pumps and accumulators, a brake fluid change every 3 years makes a lot of sense…