In our desire to educate you as best we can to help you know how to get the most of your vehicle, last time we covered the anti-freeze, this time we’re going to address the brake fluid, the power steering fluid and your transmission fluid.
One of the most over looked fluids is the brake fluid. As pads begin to wear, the fluid level will drop so you need to check it fairly regularly. If there is a sudden drop, this could indicate that you have a leak somewhere.
Brake fluid is a glycol based liquid and it will begin to absorb moisture through microscopic pores, seal and whenever the cap has been removed, exposing it to the air. Obviously, since we live in a desert here in Idaho, the humidity isn’t as much a problem like it is further south or on the coasts.
In one year, the moisture level can reach 2% and only six months later, it can have increased to as much as 3%.
An NHTSA survey in 2005 where 1,720 vehicles were sampled, 20% were found to have moisture content of over 5%. Most DOT 3 fluid has a boiling point of over 400 degrees. 1% water in the system can drop the boiling point to 369 degrees. I’m sure you can see the trend here and understand the implications.
Having a car the really gets up and scoots is great, but having ability to stop it isn’t really something that’s merely a luxury.
Your owners manual should give you the manufacturers recommended intervals for maintaining your brake fluid. We recommend every 30K for our customers. It’s really a small investment considering how important your brake system is to your and your families safety.
Power steering fluid, though not as critical, does get exposed to moisture because it is not a sealed system. This also allows dirt, dust and road grime to make it’s way into the system. Now, you may not notice a difference in a year or two if you skip the 30k interval, but over the life of the vehicle, it will make a difference in the life of the hoses, seals and the power steering pump. Hoses and seals are a big reason the you want to change out the fluid at least every 30 to 60k. Again, check you owners manual for manufacturers recommendations, but we recommend every 30k for best results.
and Last but certainly not least, your transmission. It doesn’t matter if you have a manual or a automatic, both need to have the fluids changed out to extend the life of your transmission. The typical service interval is 30 to 60k but some heavy duty vehicles needs to have it done as soon as 15k.
In automatic transmissions there is a tremendous amount of heat that is generated and built up within the transmission and this causes the fluid to actually break down and lose it’s protective viscous properties.
With manual transmissions, the concern is that as the synchronizers, bearings and gears wear on each other, it creates fine metal particles that contaminate the fluid and then it can no longer lubricate nearly as well as new fluid.
In both cases, the breakdown of transmission parts into the fluid can lead to a shortened life span if not changed fairly regularly.
Small, seemingly insignificant actions performed on a regular schedule can extend the life of an vehicle you might own and if you have a hard tome remembering to check or don’t know when you had any of these services performed, give us a call and setup an appointment. We will do a multi-point inspection to give you a snap shot of the current state of your vehicle and then provide you with a road map to get you on the path to a long and healthy relationship with your vehicle, free from the usual breakdowns and repairs that most people experience due to lack of maintenance.