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Is Brake Fluid Really a Vehicle Component?

What Does Brake Fluid Do?

Although brake fluid may not seem to be a major vehicle component such as a transmission or wheels, it is indeed vital to your auto's ability to operate safely. All facets of braking system function, maintenance, and repair are crucial. To ensure the safe operation of your vehicle, keep your brakes serviced and in good repair at West Automotive Group in El Cajon, California. Since 1993, our certified technicians have kept your car going and stopping as it should.

Brake Fluid Function

Perhaps you're wondering exactly what brake fluid does. Simply put, it works using Bernoulli's principle of hydraulics, allowing you to use a small amount of pressure on the pedal to stop the heavy auto. Your small amount of force is multiplied many times over by way of the brake fluid.

Fluid is stored in the master cylinder. When you apply force to the brake pedal, fluid travels through the brake lines to the calipers. These move the brake pads against the rotors. The rotors interact with the wheels so that your vehicle slows or comes to a stop. Think about how much manual force it would take to stop your car! The brake fluid also helps prevent rust and corrosion among brake parts and lubricates the moving braking components.

Look Out for Leaks

Obviously, you want your fluid to remain where it should be and in prime condition so that you can stop your car on demand. Your life may depend on it. When brake fluid begins leaking out or gets too old, your stopping ability may be compromised. Change fluid based on manufacturer's recommendations or when your technician advises you of the need.

It’s also important to stay vigilant for signs of leaks. If you see slick yellow or brown fluid underneath your auto, you may have a brake fluid leak. Also, you may notice a spongy or soft feeling brake pedal, which is a result of insufficient fluid. With so many components making up the braking system (lines, linkages, switches, pistons, etc.), leaks can happen, and any loosening or cracking of a part can allow brake fluid to escape. Therefore, be mindful of any signs pointing to your brakes needing attention.

Low Fluid Levels

Even if you don't see an obvious leak, there are some additional warning signs of low brake fluid. Your dashboard brake warning light may illuminate, or you may notice that it takes longer to stop. Finally, brake pads may wear out sooner than anticipated. Your technician should not only replenish your brake fluid if you're experiencing problems, but also inspect the entire system for leaks. The braking system is classified as "closed", so fluid shouldn’t just disappear. If you find yourself lacking sufficient fluid, you likely have a leak that should be addressed at West Automotive Group.

Written by West Automotive Group