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Brake and Power Steering Fluids

by | Aug 20, 2022 | Brake System, Steering System

As consumers struggle with rising costs for just about everything in their day to day lives, they are becoming more diligent about ongoing vehicle maintenance.  There’s no doubt that one of the most important maintenance items is keeping your motor oil clean through regular fluid and filter changes.  Beyond basic oil changes, vehicle owners should expand their maintenance efforts to other important vehicle fluids – brake and power steering fluids.  In this month’s blog, we discuss how these critical vehicle system fluids play a role in keeping your vehicle in good working condition.

These two vehicle fluids are uniquely different yet serve a similar purpose in support of the braking or steering systems.

Brake Fluid:

  • When the brake pedal is depressed, brake fluid puts hydraulic pressure on the brake calipers which then provide power to the pads to slow or stop the vehicle in motion.
  • Provides lubrication to the braking system components.
  • Clear or yellowish color fluid.

Power Steering Fluid:

  • Makes the steering process easier by adding hydraulic assistance to the power steering.
  • Provides lubrication to the power steering components.
  • Helps to control corrosion within the power steering system parts.
  • Reddish color fluid.

Common Problems

The common problems experienced with brake or steering fluids, include:

  • Fluid Leaks:
    • If either fluid is low, you may see a dashboard warning light illuminate.
    • It is important to check for any leaks beneath the vehicle, looking for a yellow (brake) or red (power steering) pool of liquid.
    • If your brake fluid is low or leaking, you may experience a mushy or soft sensation when depressing the brake pedal; this may also be the result of air in the brake lines.
    • If your power steering fluid is low, you may experience noises while steering, difficulty turning the steering wheel, or jerking of the wheel while turning.
  • Fluid Contamination:
    • Brake and power steering fluid will degrade over time as they become contaminated with dirt, grime, and other pollutants; when you notice dark or brown discoloration of fluid, it is time for a replacement.
  • Moisture or Air:
    • Sometimes moisture build up in the brake fluid will cause air to enter the brake lines, resulting in a soft or mushy brake pedal.
    • If you have air in the power steering system, you may experience a grinding sound when steering; it is important to check for and address any fluid leaks.

Because these two fluids are vital to the systems they support, it is important that the fluid levels are maintained to vehicle specifications and replaced at appropriate timeframes to maximize their efficacy.

The fluid levels and quality of the fluid should not be ignored, as these can lead to further damage within the braking or steering systems and require costlier repairs to the brakes or steering system.  And more importantly, when the fluids are not able to adequately support the braking or steering, these become serious safety concerns.

Preventative Maintenance

Both brake and power steering fluids do not require frequent changes but should be monitored for aging.

Typical timeframes for maintenance are as follows:

  • Brake fluid:  Varies by vehicle make and model but the average timeframe is between two and five years.
  • Power steering fluid:  The average timeframe is usually every 50,000 miles driven or two years.

If you have not had your brake or steering fluids changed in a while or have concerns that you may have a leak in one of the systems, give us a call at Best Western Transmissions.  We can schedule an inspection of your vehicle and make recommendations for any service, repair, or replacement.