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Replacing brake fluid? Pontiac Vibe 2.4 L

A AA magazine (Autumn, 2018) mentioned that most automobile manufacturers recommend replacing brake fluid every 2 years. I cannot find this in my manual, I only see the brake fluid recommended for my car, DOT-3. When my oil was recently changed, none of the fluids were low, only the oil was drained, and replaced. Does anyone, here, recommend changing brake fluid every 2 years?

yup, I do :slight_smile:

Okay, thanks. Is changing brake fluid similar to changing oil, as in there is a drain plug for the fluid to drip out?

Replacing the brake fluid requires bleeding the brake system.


Cool, I’ll take it to a brake shop. I’ve never had this done before, but it is overdue. I’ll schedule a “bleed” appointment. THX

Agree, brake fluid change is universally ignored in the USA but mandatory in the EU. They test for water content in the fluid if it is greater than 4%, I think, it must be changed. The testers are cheap and available from Amazon and others.

The safety part is that fresh brake fluid boils at a higher temperature than old fluid with water in solution. The maintenance side is getting rid of the water helps reduce internal corrosion with dissimilar metals like steel, iron and aluminum.

And don’t just bleed, change or flush the fluid. Make that clear to the shop. Bleeding just removes trapped air, a change or flush is old fluid out, new fluid in.


Very informative Mustangman,

I’ll use this advice, and inform others about it. I just hope the shop doesn’t give me any drama for requesting this, they refused to rotate my tires recently, I had to visit a competitor for it. Duh, I’ll just visit the competitor.

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Did they give a reason for not wanting to do that.

Yes, “the better tires would have ended up in the rear.” With advice from other Car Talk members, I had the better tires placed in the rear to complete the tire rotation. I have more than one choice for replacing the brake fluid.

Thanks so much for the replies, and explanation. I’m all set now. :slight_smile:

My 20-year-old RAV4 is on original brake fluid, and I’ll be amazed if it ever matters at all.

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When brake pads are replaced and the work done correctly the brake fluid is significantly flushed through the system. And if flushed purposely or incidental to other brake work every 2 to 3 years the master cylinder and calipers might last 20 years. I kept records on vehicles operating without an hydraulic brake failure for many hundreds of miles and some well over 10 years but at 20 years you’ve got me beat.

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you might be playing with danger, @auto-owner, as you can neglect anything but brakes or steering, your life depends on these systems

when my daughter bought a 10-yars old NIssan Altima with 68K miles on it, it most likely had an original brake fliud

I’ve immediately flushed it and found it was dirty on the rear side

in one year I had to follow up for one slightly sticking brake caliper - it had some corrosion settling in and making o-ring to stick, so had to clean/reassemble

in my other cars (happen to include 3 other Altimas) I always flush brake fluid every 30K miles and never had corrosion issues or any issues from that side

I think it is probably a good idea to replace the brake fluid as a course of routine maintenance, but I rarely do it myself, as a diy’er, except when performing other brake work anyway where the hydraulic systems gets opened. Exposed brake fluid has a strong chemical attraction to water molecules, and can get a substantial amount of water in it just from being exposed to the water vapor in the air. I’ve had to replace wheel cylinders and the master cylinder many times over the past 46 years on my truck, which requires opening the hydraulics, so the brake fluid has been replaced many times. But I’ve never had to replace any part on my 26 year old Corolla that required opening the brake’s hydraulic system, and I don’t recall ever replacing the brake fluid, still original.

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This is a reason we need to re-think how auto maintenance is performed, and what is done during a maintenance check. My former roommate took meticulous care of his Hondas (Accord, and 2 Acuras), but I don’t remember him getting the brake fluid replaced on any of them, this was over a 10±year period. I took my truck in for oil changes when the shop sent me notices, or emails, but they never advised replacing brake fluid. The shop that replaced my pads, and rotors didn’t remind me to replace the brake fluid either. 3 years ago, I took my vibe in for a state inspection at a AAA-approved garage, but the inspector ruined one of the TPMS sensors, did not replace a windshield wiper properly, and did not replace a valve stem cap; AAA or not, that shop lost my business.

I guess what you are saying that you should not have to do any checking for what maintenance to do and someone should do it for you.

I bought a low-mileage1960 Falcon in 1976, and the amount of water contaminating the brake fluid was astounding. It was a “grandma car”, purchased from somebody whose family I knew, and although granny was fairly good about getting the oil changed once or twice a year, her service records did not indicate that the brake fluid had ever been flushed.