What Happens If You Don’t Change Brake Fluid? Find Out!

As a car owner, you know regular maintenance is key for your vehicle’s long life and safety. From oil changes to tire rotations, there are numerous tasks that require attention — but one of the most critical yet often overlooked ones is brake fluid replacement. Ignoring this routine service can have disastrous consequences for your braking system and overall vehicle performance.

In this article, we’ll explore what happens if you don’t change brake fluid, including warning signs to look out for, potential damage, and why it’s crucial to stick to scheduled maintenance intervals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Brake fluid is essential for your car’s braking system to work.
  • Brake fluid absorbs moisture, which can cause spongy brakes, corrosion, decreased brake performance, or total brake failure.
  • Regular brake fluid changes are essential, and you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • As a standard guideline, it is recommended to replace brake fluid every 2 years or at 30,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
  • Factors such as driving conditions, climate, and the type of brake fluid can influence how often to change brake fluid.
  • You can check your brake fluid by locating the reservoir and checking the fluid level and color.
  • Bring your car to a professional mechanic if you’re not confident in changing your brake fluid.

The Basics: What is Brake Fluid?

Brake fluid is the lifeblood of your car’s braking system. It’s a brake fluid which assists in transferring the force of your foot’s pedal of the brake to brake calipers, or wheel cylinders. This causes your vehicle to slow down or stop.

The thing concerning brake fluid is it’s hydrophilic meaning it’s able absorption of moisture air. In time the moisture could cause various issues with the brake system, which is why it is crucial to check it out regularly.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Brake Fluid?

So, you’re asking, “Why should I change my brake fluid?” Let me tell you about the risks you’re facing:

Spongy Brakes

When brake fluid absorbs moisture, it can lead to a lower boiling point. It means that when you’re breaking hard for a long amount of time water will begin to boil, which can cause gas bubbles. These bubbles can make your brakes feel spongy and less responsive. Not ideal when you’re trying to stop, right?

Corrosion and Rust

Moisture in the brake fluid can also cause corrosion and rust in your brake lines and other components of your braking system. This can weaken the system and lead to leaks, which is definitely not something you want happening while you’re cruising down the highway.

Also read: Does Brake Cleaner Remove Rust?

Decreased Brake Performance

As brake fluid gets older and absorbs more moisture, it can lose its effectiveness in transferring force from the brake pedal to the brake calipers or wheel cylinders. Consequently, this necessitates that more force be applied to the brake pedal to attain the same level of stopping power, which is both frustrating and potentially hazardous.

Total Brake Failure

In the worst case scenario neglecting to check the brake fluid could cause complete brake failure. Imagine driving down the road, and when you need to stop, your brakes just don’t work—yikes! This is an extreme situation although it’s not impossible. Keeping your brake fluid fresh and clean is an essential step to avoid this terrifying situation.

How Often Should You Change Brake Fluid?

So, we’ve established that changing your brake fluid is pretty important, right? But how often should you actually do it? 

Manufacturer’s Recommendations

Most importantly, just follow your car manufacturer’s guidelines. These guidelines are typically located in the owner’s manual.

The recommended guidelines can differ based on the model, make as well as the year and make of your car and the particular brake fluid used.

If you are unable to locate the relevant details in your manual or have misplaced it, conducting a brief online search or contacting your nearby dealership should give the necessary information.

The General Rule of Thumb

In general an ideal guideline is to replace the brake fluid at least every two decades or after 30,000 miles depending on what is first. Although this is a relatively conventional suggestion within the automotive industry, it is crucial to note that your particular vehicle may have distinct prerequisites.

Factors That Affect Brake Fluid Change Frequency

Although the guideline of the norm can be a good start point a variety of variables that could affect the frequency of brake fluid replacement is required.

Let’s have a review of some of these aspects such as driving conditions:

Driving Conditions

Your driving conditions can significantly impact how often you should change your brake fluid. If you often drive in heavy traffic, navigate steep hills, or frequently tow heavy loads, you might need to change your brake fluid more often. These driving conditions can generate more heat in your braking system, which can cause the brake fluid to degrade more quickly.


If you reside in an extremely humid or humid climate and the humidity in the air could cause the brake fluid to soak up water more quickly. In this instance it may be necessary to change the brake fluid more often than the standard principle suggests.

Type of Brake Fluid

There are several types of brake fluids, such as DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, and DOT 5.1, each with distinct properties and recommended change intervals.

For instance, DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids are glycol-based and more prone to moisture absorption than their silicone-based counterpart – DOT 5. It’s crucial to determine the required brake fluid type for your vehicle and adhere to its specific change intervals recommendations.

How to Check Your Brake Fluid

Checking your brake fluid is an important task to ensure your safety on the road. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do with just a glance under the hood of your car.

First things first, you’ll need to find the brake fluid reservoir. It’s usually located towards the back of the engine compartment and is made of transparent plastic so that it’s easy to see into. Once you’ve found it, give it a quick wipe down and take note of where the levels currently sit.

Healthy brake fluid should have a clear or light amber color. If it appears murky or has debris floating in it, then it may be time for a change. If this is the case, consider bringing your car in for maintenance or changing out the fluid yourself if you’re comfortable doing so.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is low fluid levels. If you notice that they are below recommended levels, then definitely top them off as necessary as this can affect your car’s performance and safety when breaking.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it! Neglecting to change your brake fluid can lead to:

  • Spongy brakes
  • Corrosion and rust
  • Decreased brake performance
  • Total brake failure

Now that you’re in knowing, you should monitor your brake fluid , and change it frequently. It’s a small task that can save you from some seriously scary situations down the road. Moreover, it will aid in maintaining your vehicle’s braking system in optimal condition, allowing you to travel with assurance and poise.

Remember, when in doubt, always consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on brake fluid maintenance. And if you’re unsure about making it happen on your own do not hesitate to take your vehicle to professional mechanic. Safety first, folks!

Similar Posts