The high cost of modern automotive parts and specialised labour is something that we should avoid if possible. Our subject in this respect is brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture. The brake fluid absorbing the moisture prevents the formation of free water in the system which would cause oxidation and corrosion damage. Brake fluid that is saturated with moisture is outdated and will boil at a lower temperature and can therefore cause brake failure under harsh braking conditions.

So, how do we care for our braking system so that we do not discover a braking problem by accident and also do not break the bank unnecessarily?

Our vehicle’s brake fluid must be flushed out once every 2 years to remove the expended fluid and replace it with fresh fluid that meets the specification and protects the system properly. There are different types of fluid for different vehicles, so make sure that you use the correct type (Dot 3, Dot 4 or Dot 5). These fluids must not be mixed, so be careful which grade of fluid you use when topping up as well. What gets damaged when the fluid can no longer absorb moisture?

The Anti-Skid Braking pump can seize and this would cost upward of R8 000 to replace because for safety reasons, no repairs are possible to this unit.

Metal brake pipes, master cylinder, wheel cylinders, load balancing valves and disc brake calipers can corrode internally and require replacement before the end of their normal service life. Failure to replace these items will result in a spongy brake pedal, ineffective brakes or total brake failure.

A word of warning - there are workshops that believe they only need to drain the brake reservoir and refill it. This is a total waste of time and money. The stale, expended fluid that needs to be replaced is in the piping, ABS pump, balancing valve and operating cylinders - not in the reservoir!