Flushing brake fluid

Normal, small town driving, daily, occassional long distance trips.

What is the frequency needed to change brake fluid? Cost?

The frequency of brake fluid replacement is driven by exposure to moisture. If you live in the desert, you can probably run brake fluid for quite a while. Typical rule of thumb is 2-3 years between fluid replacements.

Someone posted the other day about having water in a caliper that boiled after descending a long hill and locked up the brake on one wheel. Scared the heck out of him. You don’t want that to happen.

Brake fluid ages with time, doesn’t matter how many miles, city of hwy. So rule of thumb is 2 years, some manuals say 3 years. This is one thing that has not changed over time. I guess they don’t put as much time on brake fluid research as they have put on engine oil.

I change the brake fluid when I am replacing the brake pads or shoes…Fresh fluid extends the life of the entire brake system including vehicles equipped with ABS. It takes a real mechanic to do this properly, not some Quick-Lube mechanic wanna-be. One of the big pitfalls can be stripping or breaking off the bleeder valves or triggering a brake failure warning light they don’t know how to reset…

Until recently, cars lived a normal lifespan – factory to crusher – with their original brake fluid. Then Honda came out with a 3-year recommendation and the other manufacturers hastened to follow with a similar schedule.

With regards to brake fluid, I am not convinced the advice in the owner’s manual must be taken seriously. The engineers’ recommendations can be overruled by the Marketing Dept, the Warranty division, the litigation lawyers, and any executive who has his own turf to defend. I know. I used to make corporate technical recommendations myself.

It is true that brake fluid degrades over time, but at what point does it really become ineffective? Ten years? Twenty? There are no simple tests. Dipping a paper test strip might suggest the age of the fluid but still say nothing about its effectiveness.

So how long? I suspect that the 3-year advice is being overly cautious, very much so, but I have no data to support this position. So I will advise you to consider how long you intend to keep your car. If your car is celebrating its fifth birthday on its original brake fluid and you wish to keep it for another five years, consider a brake fluid flush now as part of its major rejuvenation treatment. First and last time.

Thanks for all of the responses!

I have never changed brake fluid in any car or truck I have owned. Nor any brake parts except brake pads or linings.

I normally change mine when ever I change pads. Unfortunately, when I stopped driving my truck to work and only used it occasionally on weekends, it went 7 years without a brake fluid flush. I live in a hot and humid climate (in the summer anyway, cold and wet in winter), the fluid got really dark so I changed it. Then I noticed the right front caliper wasn’t releasing like it should and had to replace it.

Connection? Maybe not, but I think there is.

I figure as long as I’m doing a brake job, I’ll break out the turkey baster and bleed all four brakes until clear fluid flows out. It’s not that much more work, after all…just boring more than anyithing, i.e.:

“Okay, step on the brake.”
[open bleeder]
[close bleeder]
“Okay, let go” (repeat 40 times or so)…

I do it every 3 years, while rotating the tires.