Simple brakes are an essential component of every car’s operation. However, when it comes to maintenance, we frequently are unaware of its requirements. When maintenance is necessary, we frequently worry about how the engine or transmission is holding up.
The brakes, though, are less important because we anticipate that they will always function as-is. That is until it unexpectedly stops and you have a terrible accident. More individuals ought to be aware of their brakes and how costly a brake fluid flush cost may be.
One of the many components that make up the overall braking system is brake fluids. Like many other mechanical components, fluids are required to keep them in working order. Your engine and gearbox are lubricated by motor oil and transmission fluids, respectively.
Your engine is kept cold by coolants, and the steering rack is hydraulically moved by power steering fluid. Similar to the latter, brake fluids are covered in greater detail in this article on the brake fluid flush cost that you should be aware of.
Brake Fluid: What Is It?
We should first explain what brake fluid flushing does before talking further about brake fluid flush cost. As we just established, the main hydraulic function of brake fluids is similar to that of power steering fluids.
Brake fluids are effective in transferring force because they are pressured, non-compressible, and hygroscopic. There are several distinct sorts of braking fluids, which we’ll discuss in more detail. Generally speaking, they can either be silicone- or glycol-based in their compound.
Let’s look at the process’s step-by-step breakdown for the time being. The brake fluids within the braking lines are compressed when you depress the brake pedal. This transforms the force generated by your foot into braking pressure.
This pressurized brake fluid could then force a piston through the brake master cylinder mechanically or electronically. After that, fluids are rushed to the brake calipers, where they are compressed and forced to squeeze down on the brake pads.
This would cause the brake rotors to begin to clamp down. Now connect those brake lines, which are packed with pressurized braking fluid, to each of your car’s four corners. Your automobile may start to move more slowly as a result of the brakes creating a lot of friction.
However, because they must withstand heat as well as serve a hydraulic function, brake fluids are made for more than just that. All that friction generates heat, which could cause smaller fluids to boil or evaporate and affect the braking force.
An automotive brake’s master cylinder by Specious / CC BY-SA 4.0. If the master cylinder reservoir is on the driver’s side of your front-engined vehicle, you must first access the rear passenger-side caliper.
Why Is Brake Fluid So Crucial In Your Car’s Braking System?
Hydraulic fluid is brake fluid. They effectively transfer force by hydraulic pressure, are pressured, non-compressible, and hygroscopic. The hydraulic brake fluids inside the brake lines become pressure when you depress the brake pedal.
This is how your application of brake pressure results in the formation of braking pressure. Now that the brake fluid has been pressurized, it can push a piston into the master cylinder of the brakes. The pressurized hydraulic brake fluids can then flow to the brake calipers as a result.
Then, squeeze them onto the brake pads by applying hydraulic pressure to compress them. Your car will then slow down and halt as a result of that clamping down on the braking rotors or discs. Your car’s brakes are applied in the same manner to all four sides.
Which are the Different Types of Brake Fluids?
There are several different kinds of braking fluids that you can use in your automobile, as we already explained in our article on brake fluid flush cost. You must understand the composition of these various fluids as you will, after all, be reading this in preparation for a cleanse and replacement of your braking fluids.
There are now four distinct brake fluid mixtures available on the market. Here is a list of the things that set them apart from one another:
1. Brake Fluid – DOT 3
It is based on a combination of glycol and ether. The boiling point of several brake fluids is an important parameter. The boiling point of DOT 3’s “dry,” or pure braking fluid, is approximately 401°F. The lower boiling point of “wet,” or when combined with around 4% water, is 205°F.
Being extremely corrosive, DOT 3 brake fluids should be handled with caution when performing the flush. Due to its composition, DOT 3 is the braking fluid you’ll find in the majority of automobiles and is best suited for regular autos.
2. Brake Fluid – DOT 4
DOT 3-like in composition mostly, but with a much higher boiling point, typically around 446°F. It is extremely corrosive and can pick up moisture or water from the air, just like DOT 3.
Regarding the last issue, you should be cautious while flushing DOT 4 (and DOT 3), as you don’t want to expose them to too much air. High-performance vehicles that might otherwise exceed DOT 3’s boiling point should use DOT4, which has a higher boiling point.
But there are other brake fluids available than DOT 3 and 4. Nevertheless, they are frequently encountered in modern road cars and vehicles. Accordingly, depending on the precise specification, it is extremely likely that the particular car uses DOT 3 or 4-type braking fluids.
It’s worthwhile to quickly glance through your owner’s manual or give the nearby dealer a call to find out what kind of braking fluids your automobile uses. However, while we’re about it, here are a few additional brake fluid mixtures that you might not need to worry about too much.
3. Brake Fluid – DOT 5
The boiling point of this silicone-based combination is a very high 500°F. Other advantages include its resistance to attracting moisture or water, and it might even stop rust from accumulating in the system.
Brake fluid is hydraulic fluid. They are pressurized, non-compressible, and hygroscopic, and they effectively transfer force by hydraulic pressure. When you press the brake pedal, the hydraulic brake fluids inside the brake lines pressurize.
However, DOT 5 is also quite pricey and only applicable to select types of automobiles. It’s not advisable to use DOT 5 in vehicles equipped with ABS systems. DOT 4 braking fluids that are specialized or of a higher grade may occasionally outperform DOT 5. In most instances, you won’t need to worry about this.
4. Brake Fluid – DOT 5.1
Oddly, DOT 5.1 is not silicone-based like DOT 5, therefore its chemical composition resembles DOT 3 and 4. However, DOT 5.1 braking fluids’ wet and dry boiling values are essentially equivalent to those of DOT 5 (or higher and specialty grade DOT 4) fluids.
Some vehicles require a lower viscosity, which DOT 5.1 does have. However, as most road-going cars wouldn’t use DOT 5.1, you generally won’t need to worry about it.
Is It Safe to Mix the Different Types of Brake Fluids?
The following question is the next in our article on brake fluid flush cost. You’re preparing to replace the old brake fluids, but you don’t feel like flushing the system completely. Instead, you grudgingly empty off the old brake fluids before topping them with fresh ones.
However, you discover that they don’t carry the specific kind of brake fluid you require, so you purchase something different and cross your fingers that it will function. Whether it is a good idea to combine brake fluids is the subject at hand.
Our quick response to this is “No” However, to be more specific, the response can become a “Maybe,” as some braking fluids are compatible with one another. Technically, DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 are compatible with one another.
It’s acceptable to use one instead of the other if you’re in a bind and are low on brake fluid. only if you’re using this for genuine emergencies. Avoid using brake fluids that weren’t designed for your car or that are incompatible with it for an extended period.
This could result in a brake fluid leak or insufficiently strong braking pressure. You can then get your brakes cleansed and the correct fluids topped off once you’ve reached a legitimate workshop.
DOT 5 cannot be combined with any other type of braking fluid mixture, though. It could have negative effects to mix non-DOT-5 fluid into a DOT-5 braking system or to add DOT-5 fluid to a non-DOT-5 brake system. This could seriously harm your brakes.
When Should Brake Fluid Flush Be Done?
However, if brake fluids are that crucial, why should people worry about brake fluid flush cost in the first place? Well, there are a few things to think about that would inevitably make your brake fluids less efficient than they formerly were.
Recall how much we emphasized boiling points earlier. The repeated exposure to heat, even if it’s manageable, could eventually wear down your braking fluids, which become “burnt,” just like engine oil or transmission fluid.
The brake fluids’ hydraulic qualities will be impacted, and they might not be able to transfer force as effectively as they once could. The fluids’ contact with water, moisture, or other debris inside the brake lines is another factor to consider.
Fluids designated as DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 are hygroscopic, which means they can take up water from the humidity in the surrounding air. Even in the most sealed brake reservoir, this moisture can still sneak in or accumulate, which will start to taint the braking fluids.
A set of pads for high-performance disk brakes by Treemonster86 / CC BY-SA 3.0. The following time you apply the brakes, your energy will be wasted trying to compress the gas instead of the brake pads. In the end, your braking power is drastically reduced.
Why, therefore, is a little water bad? Under pressure, brake fluids are incompressible. The polluted braking fluids, however, might boil faster than ‘clean’ fluids since water has a lower melting point. When anything boils, it transforms into a compressible gas.
As a result, the next time you use the brakes, your effort will be squandered trying to compress the gas as opposed to compressing the brake pads. Your braking power is ultimately significantly decreased.
Which are the Common Symptoms of Bad Brake Fluid?
We have learned a lot thus far in our article about brake fluid flush cost. We now understand what brake fluids are, how they function, the different types of fluids, and when we should change them.
But other than adhering to the established maintenance schedule for your car, how can you tell if you need a flush? How can you initially know when your braking fluids are about to fail? Fortunately, there are several warning signs that you can watch out for.
It is worthwhile to think about paying the majority of the brake fluid flush cost once you have experienced any of these for the first time. Before you put yourself in a situation where your car fails to stop when you want and need it to, that is.
1. The ABS Warning Light Turns On
Anti-lock braking systems, or ABS, are a standard component of the majority of contemporary vehicles. It keeps the brakes on your car from locking up, maybe saving you from sliding off the road.
The braking system contains sensors that the ABS uses to make sure everything is operating as it should. When your brakes are malfunctioning, the ABS warning light could indicate any number of other issues. One of these is when your braking fluids need to be topped off or replaced, so pay close attention.
2. Weird Pedal Feeling
The way a car drives and how the controls feel can reveal a lot about it. The brake pedals are one of the many ways you can communicate with your car. The brake pedal will feel a little strange as you press down on it to pressurize the brake fluids, which is a sign that something is wrong.
Your car may need to be stopped by applying heavy pressure to the brakes. Alternately, the pedal itself has a very soft, spongy sensation. You might want to check your braking fluids in either case.
3. Unusual Sounds While Braking
In normal circumstances, your car shouldn’t create any noise while braking. When you brake, some brake types, such as some carbon ceramics, may squeal or squeak. However, the majority of the everyday vehicles we all drive should be fairly quiet.
Therefore, hearing those strange high-pitch noises whenever you press the brake pedal may indicate that there are numerous issues. This might occur if your braking fluids are old and worn out or if there isn’t enough of them.
4. Terrible Brake Performance
Your brakes might not be functioning as well as they once did for a variety of reasons. You realize that suddenly, to slow down your car, you need to apply a lot more force to the brake pedal.
The ABS uses sensors included in the braking system to verify sure everything is working as it should. The ABS warning light may appear if your brakes aren’t working properly or if any number of other problems exist.
Alternatively, you might be covering a lot more ground to stop completely. You should have your automobile checked out straight away if you notice that it brakes very poorly. Brake fluid that is excessively burned, polluted, or insufficient to function as it was intended to is one common cause.
5. When Braking, the Vehicle Pulls to the Right or Left
When thinking about brake fluid flush cost, you should take into account one very alarming sign: what occurs when you depress the brake pedal. Have you noticed your vehicle swerving left or right? If so, you should check the fluid levels in your brakes.
A lack of brake fluid will prevent the vehicle from applying enough braking force to all four wheels. Your automobile will veer from side to side as a result of one wheel braking more forcefully than the other.
6. Contaminated Brake Fluid
Under the hood, you may examine the braking fluids’ quality on your own. The reservoir for the brake fluid is located here. It should be noted that the colors of various brands and varieties of brake fluid vary. Green, purple, or blue is some of their colors.
The majority of braking fluids, however, have a yellow or golden tint. You must immediately flush and replace it if you discover that the extremely bright yellow or honey-like gold tint has turned dark, such as a deep brown or black.
How Can I Examine the Condition of My Brake Fluid?
Knowing whether you need to change the fluid is crucial when determining whether you need to look into the total brake fluid flush cost. You can determine if there are any problems by identifying the symptoms and indicators.
Additionally, you can examine the scene and locate the brake fluid reservoir to check your braking fluid.
Maintain cleanliness throughout the brake system first. The slightest amount of debris in the brake fluid has the potential to contaminate the entire system, breaking seals and degrading performance all the way to brake failure.
To check the fluid level in your automobile, first, detach the plastic top from the brake fluid reservoir. Since extended exposure to air might contaminate the brake fluid, be cautious to complete this process as quickly as you can.
After that, examine the fluid level to determine whether the appropriate amount of fluid has been added or whether you need to consider the brake fluid flush cost.
Once this is finished, examine the state and level of the brake fluid. If you haven’t changed your brake fluid in the last two years, you should do so because brake fluid can degrade and break down over time.
Once the procedures for monitoring your brake fluid have been completed, you must consider the procedures for flushing your brake fluid.
How Much Does the Brake Fluid Flush Cost for a Car?
Right, I think we’ve talked for too long. It’s time to discuss more regarding brake fluid flush cost and move on to the backbone of our guide. Most people spend between $70 and $200 on a complete brake fluid flush and replacement on average.
Brake caliper on a disc brake by The359 / CC BY-SA 3.0. The brake calipers compress the fluids as they are rushed there, forcing them to strain against the brake pads.
Typically, they fall between $100 and $150, in the middle. At least you won’t have to worry about brake fluid flush cost too much because brake fluid flushes are typically performed once every 30,000 miles or 2 years.
A few major factors that have an impact on the ultimate cost must be taken into account. Many brake fluids can be purchased for around $30 per bottle. The majority of the additional costs are labor-related.
However, it’s a cost that’s worthwhile to incur to guarantee your safety and the longevity of your brakes. Be aware that using subpar brake fluid can cause the brakes as a whole to wear out prematurely. You may have to pay an additional $250 to $500 per axle to replace the brake pads and rotors.
A Sample Brake Fluid Flush Cost at Different Car Dealers
You need to know the average cost of what you might pay depending on the chain store you go to for your particular car to calculate how much you might spend on the brake fluid flush cost.
Fortunately, most repair shops offer this kind of service, and it is occasionally included in the upkeep associated with your car’s yearly tune-up.
Pep Boys, Firestone, Jiffy Lube, and Big O Tires are the places to go for the least brake fluid flush cost, with each of them charging roughly $69 for the service.
SeeDee is the next most affordable choice, with a replacement costing about $80, and Midas is more expensive at $85. Brake Masters is the most expensive place to get your car serviced for a brake fluid flush; the procedure will run you about $130.
How Can I Reduce the Brake Fluid Flush Cost?
Your brake fluid flush is a low-maintenance, reasonably priced service that should be simple enough for any mechanics to know how to do it quickly and effectively.
For other people, though, you might be trying to cut corners and save money, so this amount still might be higher than you’d like to pay for your car’s upkeep and repairs.
If this applies to you, you might think about comparing prices in your neighborhood as well as the potential of performing this brake flush cost yourself.
Finding a more expensive location won’t save you much because, as we showed before with the sample pricing, most locations have similar price ranges.
You must perform the brake flush on your own to save money. If you have the necessary tools and feel confident in the procedures to take, you might be able to complete this task on your own since it is not complicated.
Brake Fluid: How Much Do I Need for My Car?
Knowing how much fluid has been used up is a crucial aspect in calculating the price of a brake fluid service or brake fluid flush cost. A typical car’s braking system would typically consume 32 ounces, or slightly less than 1 quart (or slightly less than 1 liter), of brake fluid.
The majority of brake fluid bottles are 1 liter in size, so if and when you run out, a single bottle is a plenty for a quick top-up. However, you’ll need extra if you want to perform a more thorough brake fluid clean.
ABS speed sensors by Hans Haase / CC BY-SA 4.0. The majority of modern cars come standard with anti-lock braking systems or ABS. It prevents your car’s brakes from locking up, potentially sparing you from swerving off the road.
Take two bottles of brake fluid—two that’s liters—just to be on the safe side. On store shelves, bottles of brake fluid can be purchased for as little as $5 (for 32 ounces) or as much as $30 for a higher-end quality brand.
Brake Fluid Flushing Techniques
Let’s imagine you’re eager to avoid paying the additional $100 or so in labor. Maybe you’d like to flush the brake fluids by yourself. You have the ideal bottle of brake fluid for your car. then what?
The good news is that cleaning your braking fluids is one of the simplest auto repairs and maintenance tasks you can perform yourself. There won’t be many tools required. Just be careful not to harm your vehicle’s brakes.
- As we previously mentioned, brake fluids can be corrosive, so if you’re doing this at home, it’s a good idea to have some goggles and gloves on hand.
- Find the brake fluid reservoir by opening the hood when your car is off and in “park.” The master cylinder reservoir’s standing fluids must now be completely drained. Carefully remove all of the old brake fluids using a siphon pump or a turkey baster. Avoid dripping this on the paint because it will discolor and damage the paintwork if you do.
- There will be a very small amount of the old brake fluids left, but for now, that’s fine. Up until the reservoir is full, you can top it off with new fluids once you’ve sucked out the majority of the old fluids. After that, we may start bleeding off the remaining old brake fluids from the calipers.
- To find out which brakes you should begin bleeding first, see your owner’s manual or the vehicle’s manufacturer. Usually, you should start with the brake caliper that is farthest away from the reservoir. Therefore, if you have a front-engined car and your master cylinder reservoir is on the driver’s side, you must first access the rear passenger-side caliper. You can then go to the front passenger-side caliper, the front driver-side caliper, and the rear driver-side caliper.
- To give yourself better access to the brake caliper bleeder valve, carefully jack up the automobile once you have an order in place and remove the wheel. To safely hold your automobile in position, have some jack stands on hand. So that it doesn’t spill all over the place, having a hose attached would be useful. Send that to a tray or bucket after that.
- With assistance, have someone pump the brake pedal repeatedly until it becomes stiffer. Make sure your spouse is currently maintaining a firm grip on the brake pedal. The old braking fluids should begin to flow out as soon as you open the bleeder valve. Even though the fluid may stop pouring out, there are still some fluids in that caliper.
- Pump the brake pedal repeatedly while opening and shutting the bleeder valve until you notice fresh brake fluid coming to the surface. This is apparent from the fluids’ shifting color from darker (older) to brighter (new).
- For each of your car’s four corners, repeat this procedure. Going back to your master cylinder reservoir would be the last step. After then, top it off with new liquids until the maximum marker is reached. After that, reinstall all of your wheels and check to see if the brake pedal feels firm.
When you open the bleeder valve, the old braking fluids should start to flow out. Even though the fluid may stop dripping, the caliper still contains some fluid.
How Often Should I Carry Out a Brake Fluid Flush?
One component of vehicle maintenance that many people frequently neglect is changing the brake fluid. You must replace the brake fluid since it has to be changed. The brake fluids in your car absorb a lot of heat as you apply the brakes.
Additionally, they experience repeated bouts of heating up and cooling down. The high hydraulic pressure would gradually deteriorate brake fluids as well if the heat wasn’t enough to do it already.
There’s also the potential for braking fluids to become contaminated with air bubbles if moisture in the brake lines boils, which is another worry. Therefore, it’s essential to periodically change the braking fluids.
Consult your owner’s handbook if you want a more precise quote. Generally speaking, you ought to replace the brake fluid every 2 years or about 45,000 miles.
Therefore, that pretty well sums up brake fluid flush cost. Even while it’s a cost you’ll still have to pay, a figure of between $70 to $200 is still a rather insignificant amount in the big picture. You will benefit from having brakes that are in excellent condition for this.
This is not only a great plus for your safety and the protection of your passengers, but it also prevents your brakes from becoming overworked. The result of this is a bigger hole in your bank account, not to mention a trip to the doctor.
An automotive brake’s master cylinder by Specious / CC BY-SA 4.0
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”