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Moisture from your brake fluid can cause failure

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How often do you have your brake fluid changed?

Douglas McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive, said that many car manufacturers suggest having the brake fluid of your vehicle changed at 24 to 36 months.

“I recommend you follow your manufacturer’s schedule with one exception,” he said. “I would also change the fluid when other brake service is performed. And, if you do not know your car’s maintenance schedule, you would still be safe by changing the fluid every two years.”

You need to understand that the brake fluid systems installed in today’s vehicles are very complex, especially when equipped with traction control and anti-lock brakes.

“Even if you do not have these features, it’s very important that the brake fluid be clean and free of moisture and other contamination,” McAllister said. “Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it attracts moisture.”

Your brake fluid will accumulate moisture over time. In fact, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 20 percent of the cars it tested had brake fluid with 5 percent moisture content. 3 percent moisture content in DOT 3 brake fluid reduces the boiling point of the fluid by more than 100 degrees.

“When the moisture in the brake fluid boils because of the tremendous amount of heat generated by the brakes, you can actually lose the ability to stop,” McAllister said. “Plus, moisture can cause corrosion of the wheel cylinders or brake calipers and eventually cause a leak.”

Dirty fluid is also bad. If the brake fluid gets dirty, it’s going to contain too much moisture and need to be changed.

As for testing for moisture content, you can use a test strip. There are also refractometers and electronic testers that reveal the boiling point.

Of course, there are also expert technicians at your auto shop who can help you.

Three locations:

Crystal Lake – 123 E. Virginia, (815) 506-9059

Barrington – 417 W. Main Street, (847) 796-6063

Fox River Grove – 416 Northwest Highway, (847) 462-4026

Visitwww.douglasautomotive.comfor more info.

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