Why Replacing Your Brake Fluid is Essential: The Dangers of Ignoring Maintenance

Dear Mike,

I recently took my car to the shop for routine maintenance, and the mechanic told me that my brake fluid needed to be replaced. I didn’t think this was necessary since I’ve never had any issues with my brakes. Is it really necessary to replace the brake fluid, or is the mechanic just trying to upsell me?


Dear Maggie,

First off, I hope you didn’t give that mechanic a high-five for trying to upsell you on brake fluid replacement. Shame on him! Kidding aside, let’s dive into why brake fluid replacement is necessary and what you should do next.

Brake fluid is no joke. It’s responsible for transferring the force from the brake pedal to the brake components, creating friction on the wheels and eventually stopping your car. Without it, you’d be driving a deathtrap on wheels. That’s why it’s important to keep it in tip-top shape.

As mentioned in your email, brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it has the ability to absorb moisture/water from its surroundings. And, as you already know, our Canadian climate can get pretty extreme. When you apply the brakes, the components get extremely hot – hot enough to boil the brake fluid if it’s not up to snuff. The moisture that has accumulated within the brake system starts to boil, causing air bubbles to form, which leads to a spongy brake pedal.

Now, don’t go thinking that this is a small problem that you can ignore. If your brakes “fade” and you find yourself having to press harder to stop the vehicle, there’s a good chance that the brake fluid has a high moisture content. You need to address this right away. The longer you wait, the more damage it can cause to your braking system, eventually leading to costly repairs with expensive ABS controllers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Mike, you just want me to spend money on unnecessary repairs!” Not true, not true. Most manufacturers are leaning towards specified replacement intervals such as 24 to 36 months for their vehicles in regards to brake fluid exchanges. This is due to the fact that brake fluid naturally degrades over time and becomes less effective at doing its job. That mechanic was just doing his due diligence and making sure you don’t end up with a busted braking system.

But before you go rushing to the dealership, make sure they have the proper tools to measure the moisture content within your brake fluid. Just like you, some mechanics might just be trying to fatten up their wallets. Doing your own research can save you from being taken for a ride.

In conclusion, replacing brake fluid may not be the most exciting thing to do, but it’s an essential part of maintaining your car’s safety. And, as founder and owner of Urban Automotive, the top Google rated auto repair shop in Oakville, Ontario Canada, I can guarantee that any good mechanic would have your best interests at heart.

Stay safe out there,

Mike Urban