How Long Does It Take To Change Brake Fluid? A Detailed Overview

As a car owner, staying vigilant about the proper maintenance of your vehicle is of utmost importance. There’s a vital auto component that often gets overlooked – brake fluid. Without it, you run the risk of potential costly repairs and jeopardizing your safety while driving. To avoid this scenario, simply prioritizing regular brake fluid changes is crucial! However, you may be wondering: how long does it take to complete this task? 

How Long Does It Take To Change Brake Fluid?

Changing your brake fluid is a crucial aspect of vehicle maintenance that ensures optimal performance while driving. The duration to complete the job depends mainly on the size and complexity of your braking system, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Vehicles like heavy-duty trucks or luxury cars with intricate brake systems may require more time due to challenges accessing the brakes.

When replacing brake fluid, it’s imperative to check other essential components such as the brake lines and master cylinder for any issues that could negatively impact the effectiveness of your braking system. Although some prefer changing their brake fluid at home using online tutorials and videos, it’s advisable to entrust licensed professionals with this delicate task for optimum results.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing brake fluid every two years to prevent wear and tear on critical components that could lead to faulty brakes or accidents. However, immediate attention from reliable mechanics is necessary if you experience any changes in your brakes’ feel or notice unusual sounds while driving. Investing in quality brake fluid replacement services guarantees safer and more comfortable road experiences while extending your vehicle’s lifespan.

Why Does Brake Fluid Need to be Changed?

Here are some reasons why brake fluid needs to be changed regularly.

1. Moisture Absorption

Like any other liquid, brake fluid is susceptible to moisture absorption over time. As it absorbs water from the air, it becomes contaminated and less effective at lubricating and protecting the braking system’s parts. When this happens, the brake fluid may start to corrode or damage other parts of the system, culminating in insufficient or failed brakes.

2. Reduced Braking Performance

Contaminated brake fluid, resulting in decreased braking performance and longer stopping distances, can pose a hazard in emergency situations where sudden stops are required as your vehicle will need more distance to come to a complete stop than usual.

3. Brake Failure

Perhaps the biggest incentive to change your brake fluid on a regular basis is that contaminated brake fluid can lead to brake failure, causing unresponsive or ineffective brakes when applied due to hydraulic system corrosion or clogged passageways.

Can I Change Brake Fluid Myself?

Are you a DIY enthusiast looking to maintain your car’s safety while saving money? Good news – changing the brake fluid is a task that you can do yourself! With the right tools and comfort working on your vehicle, this essential aspect of road safety can once again feature in your maintenance checklist.

Despite being an often overlooked part of routine car maintenance, never underestimate the importance of changing brake fluid. Precision and patience are key when dealing with sensitive brake components, so it’s best to invest in quality tools before attempting to change the fluids yourself.

Assuming you lack hesitation and are competent in utilizing specialized equipment to follow instructions, performing this vital task on your own will not only save money but also guarantee peak performance of your brakes. Nonetheless, if uncertainty or discomfort overtakes you in carrying out this obligation, we recommend letting the experts handle it.

What Are The Steps Involved In Changing Brake Fluid?

So, what are the basic steps involved in changing brake fluid? Here’s a quick rundown:

Step 1: Test the brake fluid

Before you begin, test the brake fluid to determine if it needs to be replaced. Dip a test strip into the fluid and compare its color to the chart on the packaging to see if it is within tolerance levels.

Step 2: Gather necessary tools

You will need a few tools to change your brake fluid properly. These include a baster, a recycling bottle, a lint-free cloth, and fresh brake fluid.

Step 3: Remove old brake fluid

Using a baster, suck out all of the old brake fluid from the master cylinder reservoir and squirt it into a recycling bottle. Be sure not to let any air into the system while doing this.

Step 4: Clean reservoir

Use a lint-free cloth to wipe out any old residue from inside the master cylinder reservoir. This ensures that no contaminants are left behind.

Step 5: Refill with fresh brake fluid

Refill the reservoir with fresh brake fluid as indicated in your vehicle’s manual. Make sure not to overfill or underfill the container.

Step 6: Drive the vehicle

After filling up with new brake fluid, drive your car for at least a week so that it has time to mix with any remaining old liquid. Doing this helps ensure you have everything flowing through properly.

While these steps are sufficient for introducing new brake fluid into your car’s braking system, they won’t flush out all of the old liquid completely. For complete flushing, experts advise seeking help from professionals who specialize in this kind of maintenance work.

How Do I Know If My Brake Fluid Needs Changing?

Here are some signs that indicate it might be time for a brake fluid replacement:

Dirty or Discolored Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is mostly clear and light in color. If your brake fluid is dirty or discolored, this is a sign you need to replace it. Dirt and grime can accumulate over time and reduce the effectiveness of the brake fluid.

Low Brake Fluid Levels 

Your car’s brake system has a reservoir with a “full line” label indicating the optimum level of brake fluid. If it falls below that level, you must top up or change the brake fluid.

Soft, Spongy, or Bouncy Brake Pedal

If your brakes feel soft, spongy, loose or even bouncy when you press them down, this indicates that there may be air in the pneumatic system caused by old brake fluid. Changing your brake fluid can restore optimal performance.

Strange Noises or Smells When Braking

When braking, if there are any strange noises such as squealing or pinging sounds coming from your wheels or strange smells emerging from them, it could indicate low or contaminated brake fluid that needs changing immediately.

ABS Warning Light

If there is an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) warning light on your vehicle’s dashboard, it may indicate low brake fluid levels. It is important to take these warnings seriously and have your brakes inspected promptly for safe driving.

Increased Stopping Distance 

Brake fluids age and lose their hydraulic properties over time reducing their efficacy at stopping vehicles. This can increase stopping distances thus making driving less safe on the road.

What Are The Risks Of Not Changing Brake Fluid Regularly?

One major risk associated with not maintaining brake fluid is the decrease in braking performance. As time passes, moisture builds up within the braking system, leading to diminished effectiveness. Inadequate braking means your vehicle may take a longer time to stop and could encounter brake fade or soft/spongy brakes.

Another potential danger is corrosion, which can occur when moisture accumulates over a prolonged period. This can result in the weakening and eventual breakdown of brake lines, increasing the likelihood of a disastrous failure in the braking system. Such a situation not only creates a dangerous safety risk but also necessitates costly repairs.

Beyond damage to the lines within the braking system itself, water in the brake fluid can corrode other vital components such as calipers and the master cylinder. This reduces their lifespan and can cause additional issues down the line if these parts need to be replaced prematurely.

Given these risks associated with poor or non-existent brake fluid maintenance, it’s important to regularly inspect your vehicle’s braking system and replace your brake fluid every 2-3 years or sooner if you find yourself frequently hard-braking or driving under high-performance conditions. Checking your brakes after any contact with water (such as driving through deep puddles) is always advisable too.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes that many people tend to make while changing their brake fluid:

Mistake 1: Using the Wrong Type of Brake Fluid 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when changing brake fluids is using the incorrect type of fluid. Each vehicle requires a specific brake fluid composition with unique properties, making it paramount to consult your car’s owner manual and use the recommended brake fluid. Failure to do so can cause significant harm and result in brakes that do not function correctly.

Mistake 2: Not Changing the Brake Fluid Often Enough

Another common mistake is not changing your brake fluid frequently, as suggested by the manufacturer. Over time, brake fluid collects contaminants that affect its performance, such as moisture and debris.

These contaminants can cause corrosion inside your vehicle’s braking system, leading to costly repair work later on. To make sure your brakes are performing at optimal levels, change your brake fluid regularly after every 25,000 miles driven or at annual service intervals.

Mistake 3: Overfilling the Brake Fluid Reservoir

Overfilling the brake fluid reservoir might seem like a minor issue but could potentially lead to dangerous consequences. When you overfill it with too much brake fluid, it can cause hydraulic pressure build-up within the braking system creating a risk of bursting hoses or braking calipers. For safety reasons never exceed the MAX marker before adding or changing your brake fluids.

Mistake 4: Breathing in Fumes from Old Brake Fluid

When changing old brake fluid, it can produce hazardous fumes that may cause respiratory or eye irritation. Therefore, it’s best to wear protective gloves, glasses and work in an appropriately ventilated area. If any skin contact occurs, wash the exposed area with soap and water immediately.

Mistake 5: Not Disposing of Old Brake Fluid Properly

Lastly but not least, Don’t dump old brake fluids improperly; they contain hazardous materials that can harm wildlife and the environment. Contact your local waste management facility or garage to dispose of your old brake fluid professionally.


In conclusion, brake fluid is an essential aspect of vehicle maintenance that should be taken seriously. While the duration to change your brake fluid varies, it’s crucial to prioritize regular changes to prevent potential costly repairs and ensure optimal performance while driving. Failure to replace brake fluid could lead to reduced braking performance, or worse, brake failure.

Although changing the brake fluid is a task that can be done at home, enlisting licensed professionals’ services is always advisable for top-notch results. Don’t overlook this critical element in your car’s routine maintenance checklist- invest in quality tools, hire a professional, or take up the task yourself to extend your vehicle’s lifespan and guarantee safer road experiences.


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