Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

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URSnshn
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Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by URSnshn » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:52 pm

My Honda Accord manual tells me to replace the brake fluid every 3 years. My independent car place thought it was bogus and there was no reason to do it unless there was some kind of braking issue. They asked me if I had ever replaced it on the previous car I owned - well I don't recall ever doing it every 3 years for sure - as to if I ever I had it done or not I don't know. (Previous car owned over 10 years).

Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years or not? Why does the car manual advise me to do this?

jehovasfitness
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by jehovasfitness » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:53 pm

Nope. At least according to a previous Google search I've done on it... that said, we did it at 6 yr mark tho some say it can be good for life

MathWizard
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by MathWizard » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:58 pm

I've never replaced Brake Fluid except for leaks, and topping up after brake change and beading the lines.

All cars were either GM , Dodge or Ford.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by neilpilot » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:00 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:52 pm
My Honda Accord manual tells me to replace the brake fluid every 3 years. My independent car place thought it was bogus and there was no reason to do it unless there was some kind of braking issue. They asked me if I had ever replaced it on the previous car I owned - well I don't recall ever doing it every 3 years for sure - as to if I ever I had it done or not I don't know. (Previous car owned over 10 years).

Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years or not? Why does the car manual advise me to do this?
The need to replace brake fluid is a function of how much water your brake fluid has absorbed. That's a complex function of time, brake system design, atmospherics and the type of fluid you use. Atmospherics as in do you live in a dessert, a rain forest, or somewhere in between.

The 3 year recommendation is a relatively safe one, and depending on all of those factors, especially the typical humidity level where you keep and drive your car. A 5 year interval is probably safe, or even never if you live in an arid climate.

A fluid change should not wait for a braking issue. I don't have a Honda, but personally plan to do this in every car I own every 5 years.

bubbadog
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by bubbadog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:00 pm

It is a good practice to replace your brake fluid every few years. Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time and this can compromise the performance of your brakes. This is why it is recommended by the manufacturer.

I realize most people completely ignore it until it becomes a problem, but it is a good practice nonetheless.

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Ged
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Ged » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:10 pm

I don't think I've ever done it as a routine maintenance operation, however normal car use would cause brake pad service to be required perhaps every 3-5 years. This would normally entail a fluid bleed.

Now that I'm retired and putting far fewer miles on my car I'm not likely to do pad service for perhaps 8-10 years this is a more interesting issue.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by neilpilot » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:15 pm

Ged wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:10 pm
I don't think I've ever done it as a routine maintenance operation, however normal car use would cause brake pad service to be required perhaps every 3-5 years. This would normally entail a fluid bleed.

Now that I'm retired and putting far fewer miles on my car I'm not likely to do pad service for perhaps 8-10 years this is a more interesting issue.
Normal brake maintenance such as pad and/or disc change would not normally entail a brake flush, unless you ask for that service. Even brake bleeding does not typically flush your fluid, just remove any trapped air and possibly top of the reservoir.

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Fletch
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Fletch » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:26 pm

Follow the owner’s manual is the best advice. My vehicles spcify every 2 years to reduce probability of moisture and subsequent caliper piston corrosion (a more expensive issue to fix than a brake line flush). However, if you do not plan to keep the vehicle for a long time or aren’t paranoid on potential safety issues, take your chances that the owner’s manual is incorrect.
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by whodidntante » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:58 pm

It's one of those maintenance items you might be able to get away with skipping if you are feeling lucky. As brake fluid takes on water, its boiling point is lowered. Boiling brake fluid isn't a good hydraulic fluid and you could eventually be the winner of a sudden loss of braking power. You'll notice that your car is trying to kill you sooner if you drive a performance car on the track, or if you live in a mountainous area. Since I take my car to the track and live in a wet area, my life expectancy is improved by changing my brake fluid.

jumppilot
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by jumppilot » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:58 pm

I replace my brake fluid every two years regardless of mileage. Brake fluid absorbed moisture and over time the fluid will lose its ability to work properly. Increased moisture content reduces the boiling point of the fluid leading to vapor lock of the brake system during heavy loads.

Every time I get my fluid replaced the brake pedal is more firm, which is to be expected.

There are plenty of websites out there that talk about the dangers of old brake fluid.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by whomever » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:00 pm

IMHE (emphasis on the Humble there; I'm no expert), there are two bad things that can happen when the brake fluid absorbs water:

1)If the brakes get really hot, the water can boil to steam, compromising brake function. I've never had it happen, but it's theoretically possible.

2)If any of the brake parts are cast iron (master cylinder, calipers, wheel cylinder), water droplets can rust where they contact the cast iron. If, say, you get a rust pit in the wall of a wheel cylinder, the piston won't seal correctly, and you get to replace the wheel cylinder. My sense is that an every-few-years bleed is less hassle than replacing components (which will, of course, necessitate a full bleed anyway). YMMV, of course.

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Flymore
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Flymore » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:24 pm

Brake fluid doesn't circulate like radiator fluid. The fluid in the lines doesn't come in contact with the air.
What I have read, and what I do is pump out and change the fluid in the reservoir that becomes contaminated from moisture in the air.


Good Luck.

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Toons
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Toons » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:55 pm

jumppilot wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:58 pm
I replace my brake fluid every two years regardless of mileage. Brake fluid absorbed moisture and over time the fluid will lose its ability to work properly. Increased moisture content reduces the boiling point of the fluid leading to vapor lock of the brake system during heavy loads.

Every time I get my fluid replaced the brake pedal is more firm, which is to be expected.

There are plenty of websites out there that talk about the dangers of old brake fluid.

Ditto :happy
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by DiamondplateDave » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:02 pm

As an owner of many end-of-life vehicles, and a resident of the Rust Belt, I can say with certainty I have had metal brake, fuel, and power steering lines fail. Several times, lines have failed at a low point. My assumption is that the water in the lines tends to settle to the low point, causing it to corrode from the inside. I did not think to do a post-mortem, but it clearly was not physical damage. If I had a newer car, I would definitely flush the brake fluid every few years. Partly for my sake, if I kept the car long enough for the lines to potentially fail; and partly for the sake of the poor schmuck like me trying to keep a $1000 clunker out of the junkyard for another year.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:06 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:58 pm
It's one of those maintenance items you might be able to get away with skipping if you are feeling lucky. As brake fluid takes on water, its boiling point is lowered. Boiling brake fluid isn't a good hydraulic fluid and you could eventually be the winner of a sudden loss of braking power. You'll notice that your car is trying to kill you sooner if you drive a performance car on the track, or if you live in a mountainous area. Since I take my car to the track and live in a wet area, my life expectancy is improved by changing my brake fluid.
Exactly.

During my track days, I'd replace fluid before every event. I do it once a year on my street driven cars. Both my sons and my wife know how to help do this, pumping the brake pedal as I bleed each caliper.
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Nate79
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Nate79 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:13 pm

Different manufacturers have different service life for brake fluid usually from 3 years to lifetime primarily due to the type of brake fluid used. I would follow the manufacturers recommendation.

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dwickenh
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by dwickenh » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:26 pm

Ged wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:10 pm
I don't think I've ever done it as a routine maintenance operation, however normal car use would cause brake pad service to be required perhaps every 3-5 years. This would normally entail a fluid bleed.

Now that I'm retired and putting far fewer miles on my car I'm not likely to do pad service for perhaps 8-10 years this is a more interesting issue.
+1 This post makes sense to me. Have the fluid changed during brake service intervals as that will likely be every 3-5 years and the cost will be less if done with the brake service.
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by smackboy1 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:32 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:52 pm
Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years or not? Why does the car manual advise me to do this?
The braking system is hydraulic, meaning it relies on incompressible fluid pressure to actuate the pads. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from it's surroundings. Water and any other contaminant lowers the boiling point of brake fluid. If the brake fluid gets too hot and boils, the gas in the hydraulic system will lead to spongy brake feel or even brake failure. Brakes can overheat and fade from overuse such as descending a long hill or frequent hard use. Not changing the fluid exactly at 3 years will probably not be fatal, but waiting for the brakes to fail before flushing the fluid is stupid.

I use racing brake fluid in my cars, which has elevated boiling point. For street use I extend my brake flush interval. When I used to track my car, I did a brake flush at least annually, because when I needed to stop, I really needed to stop.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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ClevrChico
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by ClevrChico » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:38 pm

I think Honda is overkill on their brake fluid schedule in most situations. My Honda factory fill is eight nine years old and still not dark, but that's probably too long.

There is a former Acura mechanic on Youtube that covered this. Apparently some dealer mechanics would simply use a turkey baster to remove most of the reservoir fluid and refill. That's not exactly a brake flush, so there isn't a guarantee of it actually being done unless you DIY.

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Alexa9
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Alexa9 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:53 pm

I would do it if you plan on keeping your car for a long time. It's also good to have record of if you sell it to someone who wants it to be well maintained. I do think some people change their oil too often however.

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baconavocado
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by baconavocado » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:59 pm

I think that most large shops have a machine that they can connect to your brake system that sucks out the old fluid, fills with new fluid, and bleeds out the air, all automatically in a matter of minutes. Has anyone had this done recently and do you know how much it costs? I used to do it myself, manually, but it takes two people to bleed the system and I don't think my wife would have the patience to help me with this anymore.

quantAndHold
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:47 pm

Do what the manual says. The manuals on my vehicles are all over the place on this issue, but they all call for a brake fluid change at some point.

jumppilot
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by jumppilot » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:13 am

Great article on brake fluid.


“A case in point: A child was killed in an accident when the five-year old minivan with 79,000 miles on it his parents were driving suffered loss of pedal and crashed while the family was driving in the mountains of Washington state. Fluid boil was blamed as the cause of the accident.”



http://www.aa1car.com/library/bfluid.htm

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Padlin
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Padlin » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:23 am

If you want to keep your vehicles in optimum condition as determined by the manufacturer, or their lawyers, go by the book.

I do not use dealers for maintenance for the most part. Stopped at a Ford dealer in Mesa AZ in early 17 while on a long 10k mile trip to have the oil changed. They recommended I get the brake, fuel, and power steering flushed, at about $250 each. This was the 1st time I had heard these things even had flushes.

I did not have any of the flushes done. From some research on the matter after I got home there are what sound like valid reasons for the flushes, I just can't bring myself to having them done. Now that I'm thinking about it I wonder when these items became called for maintenance?
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by ponyboy » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:53 am

Ive owned my car for 9 years and replaced the brake fluid 1 time...1 year ago. Actually I didnt really replace it...I just sucked out some of the old fluid from the reservoir and added new. Ive changed brakes 3 times...no issues. Actually ive owned 3 cars in my life...all were owned by family members who I then bought from...those vehicles never had brake fluid changed...only added...and they all saw 150,000+ miles.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Nate79 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:02 am

For those that like to DIY adding speed bleeders on each of the brake calibers is fairly easy and makes doing an actual brake fluid flush very simple.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by bob60014 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:33 am

It's cheap insurance to follow the manufacturerers recommendations. However for those that don't, a quick and easy way to test is to obtain a brake fluid test kit. Anyone can do it and you can easily see if the fluid is contaminated.

https://www.familyhandyman.com/automoti ... /view-all/
https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Systems- ... B00E6TXWA6

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Chip » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:00 am

I have an Accord and I am changing fluid based on the owner's manual recommendations.

I had a Camry, which had no recommendation on replacing brake fluid. After 9 years, with one fluid change at 5 years, the right front caliper froze up due to corrosion. This caused rapid wear on the left front brake. I didn't catch that until the rotor was damaged. So I got to do a complete front brake job in the middle of a very cold winter, as well as replacing the offending caliper. I suspect there was also a reasonably serious safety issue if a panic stop had been needed while the caliper was frozen.

I will continue to change fluid every 3 years. Even if not required by the owner's manual.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:02 am

bob60014 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:33 am
It's cheap insurance to follow the manufacturerers recommendations. However for those that don't, a quick and easy way to test is to obtain a brake fluid test kit. Anyone can do it and you can easily see if the fluid is contaminated.

https://www.familyhandyman.com/automoti ... /view-all/
https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Systems- ... B00E6TXWA6
Seems the test strips can cost more than a DIY fluid flush. I'd also be concerned that the fluid is stratified, with the fluid at the piston bad due to water and heat exposure while the test strip sees better fluid in the reservoir.

whomever
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by whomever » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 am

For DIY types who have trouble getting an assistant for the 'up....down....up...down' ritual, there are fairly economical widgets to pull the fluid out of the bleed screw:

http://www.mityvac.com/pages/products_bcbe.asp

(I have that hand pump. I bet there are a lot of other brands if you look.)

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munemaker
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by munemaker » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:22 am

URSnshn wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:52 pm
My Honda Accord manual tells me to replace the brake fluid every 3 years. My independent car place thought it was bogus and there was no reason to do it unless there was some kind of braking issue. They asked me if I had ever replaced it on the previous car I owned - well I don't recall ever doing it every 3 years for sure - as to if I ever I had it done or not I don't know. (Previous car owned over 10 years).

Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years or not? Why does the car manual advise me to do this?
I think you should follow Honda's maintenance instructions if you plan on keeping the car long term. If you change cars every 3 years, you could just skip the required PMs, except you do need to change the oil as a minimum.

As far as not being required by other manufacturers, other Honda maintenance is not required by other manufacturers either. For example, transmission fluid and rear end fluid (on AWD models) has to be changed a lot more frequently. Oil changes on my CR*V come up every 12,000 miles which is a lot less frequently than other cars I have owned. Honda knows these cars better than your independent car place. A coworker of mine had an AWD CRV similar to mine, and like you, her independent shop did not recommend changing her rear end fluid. Her car developed a loud whining noise, then the independent shop changed the fluid and, fortunately, it went away. So...best to rely on Honda's recommendations over the independent shop.

I have a 2009 Honda CR*V and never changed the brake fluid. I did not notice it in the manual and it does not pop up on the Maintenance Minder. I did have a rear brake caliper stick to the point I had to have it replaced. Recently at 200,000 miles, I notice that sometimes the other rear caliper is sticking periodically. So, I think that maybe this would not have happened if I had changed the brake fluid as required. Someone told me the brake fluid around the calipers gets really hot and that degrades it; by changing the fluid, you eliminate this degradation. I don't know if this is true or not.

Someone mentioned GM, Ford and Chrysler do not require changing brake fluid. Their cars typically do not last for 10 years/200,000 miles though.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Swansea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:35 am

Every two years is what the manufacturer recommends for my vehicles. I follow the recommendation. One car is 20 years old, the other is 11, and no issues with the brake calipers on either.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:42 am

Padlin wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:23 am
If you want to keep your vehicles in optimum condition as determined by the manufacturer, or their lawyers, go by the book.

I do not use dealers for maintenance for the most part. Stopped at a Ford dealer in Mesa AZ in early 17 while on a long 10k mile trip to have the oil changed. They recommended I get the brake, fuel, and power steering flushed, at about $250 each. This was the 1st time I had heard these things even had flushes.

I did not have any of the flushes done. From some research on the matter after I got home there are what sound like valid reasons for the flushes, I just can't bring myself to having them done. Now that I'm thinking about it I wonder when these items became called for maintenance?
The problem with skipping recommend maintenance on safety items is that you may not get any warning before they fail catastrophically.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by lazydavid » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:23 pm

I target to change every 2 years, but don't freak out if it stretches to 3. But skip it entirely at your own peril--literally. use a mityvac like another member suggested, or a powerbleeder like I use, and you can easily do it yourself in under an hour. You're talking a one-time cost of around $60 for the device, plus probably $12 or so each time you do the change in a car, unless for some reason (racing, for example) you need synthetic. Very economical. I've probably done 10 changes at this point.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by whomever » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:34 pm

They recommended I get the brake, fuel, and power steering flushed,...Now that I'm thinking about it I wonder when these items became called for maintenance?
Brake fluid and power steering fluid have had change intervals, to the best of my recollection, on every car I have owned, back to the 1970's.

I have not heard of flushing the fuel. Most people do that ... at every fill up :-)
GM, Ford and Chrysler do not require changing brake fluid.
Not in my experience. Here's the owners manual for a 2018 Silverado. See page 445 for the brake fluid change interval (footnote 7, 'every 5 years').

https://my.chevrolet.com/content/dam/gm ... manual.pdf

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by likegarden » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:46 pm

At 36,000 miles our Toyota dealer shop recommended to change the brake fluid on our 2013 Camry, and we did it. They actually want to do that every 24 months.

I looked into the Toyota manufacturer's recommended maintenance guide, could not find anything about brake fluid change. Toyota only requires changing engine oil and engine/cabin filters until 120,000 miles when spark plugs need to be replaced. The Toyota dealer's maintenance schedule though requires it every 24 months. I have a NY state inspection coming and wonder what else is there to expect in dealer recommendations for a 2013 Camry at 40,000 miles. (luckily 2013 Camry has a timing chain, no timing belt replacement at 100k miles in the future). Our cars are usually driven only locally at 10 -20 miles per day. I looked at maintenance of Buicks and realize that other parts of a car need to be replaced, will consider my past Buick experience.

On Buick Le Sabres and Centuries I do not remember brake fluid replacement, kept them until 110,000 miles each. Perhaps that was part of other services? On a 2017 Chevy Malibu LT the brake fluid flush is required every 5 years, no miles given.
Last edited by likegarden on Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:08 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Hyperborea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:48 pm

smackboy1 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:32 pm
I use racing brake fluid in my cars, which has elevated boiling point. For street use I extend my brake flush interval. When I used to track my car, I did a brake flush at least annually, because when I needed to stop, I really needed to stop.
Most (all?) racing brake fluid is DOT4 instead of the usual street car DOT3. While DOT4 has a higher boiling point initially it degrades faster with moisture than DOT3. That's perfectly fine in a race car since they change the fluid for each race. I would think twice about even the usual flush intervals with DOT4 never mind an extended flush interval.
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:49 pm

likegarden wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:46 pm
At 36,000 miles our Toyota dealer shop recommended to change the brake fluid on our 2013 Camry, and we did it. I looked into the manufacturer's recommended maintenance guide, could not find anything. I have a NY state inspection coming and wonder what else is there to expect in dealer recommendations for a 2013 Camry at 40,000 miles. (luckily 2013 Camry has a timing chain, no timing belt replacement at 100k miles in the future).

On Buick Le Sabres and Centuries do not remember brake fluid replacement, kept them until 110,000 miles each.
If the manufacturer does not document a brake fluid flush interval, it's my opinion that it should still be done at no more than 5-7 years. Assuming the car uses typical hygroscopic brake fluid, ie. DOT 3, 4 or 5.1.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by munemaker » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:55 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:23 pm
I target to change every 2 years, but don't freak out if it stretches to 3. But skip it entirely at your own peril--literally. use a mityvac like another member suggested, or a powerbleeder like I use, and you can easily do it yourself in under an hour. You're talking a one-time cost of around $60 for the device, plus probably $12 or so each time you do the change in a car, unless for some reason (racing, for example) you need synthetic. Very economical. I've probably done 10 changes at this point.
Is there a significant chance of breaking off the bleeder screw on a high mileage car? Would like to follow your suggestion but don't want to cause a problem.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by URSnshn » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:04 pm

Thank you all! Yes I will have the brake fluid replaced - per the maintenance manual, not only in my Honda, but also my other car (though it doesn't call for it on a regular basis). I'm also going to a different independent. I just am not sure if they will really do the work based on their beliefs on the issue and couple of other things that have occurred.

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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by lazydavid » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:07 pm

munemaker wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:55 pm
lazydavid wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:23 pm
I target to change every 2 years, but don't freak out if it stretches to 3. But skip it entirely at your own peril--literally. use a mityvac like another member suggested, or a powerbleeder like I use, and you can easily do it yourself in under an hour. You're talking a one-time cost of around $60 for the device, plus probably $12 or so each time you do the change in a car, unless for some reason (racing, for example) you need synthetic. Very economical. I've probably done 10 changes at this point.
Is there a significant chance of breaking off the bleeder screw on a high mileage car? Would like to follow your suggestion but don't want to cause a problem.
If the first time the brakes are being bled is past the decade mark, the risk is slightly elevated (meaning it's gone from impossible to extremely unlikely). That said, usually the bleeders themselves are stainless and hold up pretty well. Sometimes the caliper is rusted onto the screw, but the screw itself is sound. If the car is really old and has never been changed, I'd take the cap off and hit it a couple of times with WD40 or PB Blaster, letting it sit for 20-30 minutes after each shot. then go after it gently with a box-end wrench. I'm sure bleeders screws can snap off, but I've never personally seen it in 20+ years of amateur wrenching.

If the current brake fluid was installed less than a decade ago, I would just do the change.

Chip
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Chip » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:26 pm

munemaker wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:55 pm
Is there a significant chance of breaking off the bleeder screw on a high mileage car? Would like to follow your suggestion but don't want to cause a problem.
As lazydavid noted, probably not too much chance of breaking it off. But there is a reasonable likelihood of rounding off the wrench flats on the bleeder screw if you use the wrong wrench. Use either a 6 point socket or the box end (also 6 point) that lazydavid recommended. You might also give it a gentle tap with a hammer before attempting to loosen, but don't damage it by hitting too hard or in the wrong place.

FRANK2009
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by FRANK2009 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:32 pm

I bleed my brakes every year. My owners manual recommends 15 month intervals for severe service, which is my use. I do it myself using the 'gravity bleed" method. Simple and effective.

I don't like to second guess a car makers recommended service interval. It's there for a reason. JMO'

capsaicinguy
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by capsaicinguy » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:08 pm

I bleed our cars brakes on a roughly yearly basis or whenever they get new pads. I have a vacuum bleeder that makes it very easy for one person. I sold my big compressor so now I'm back to the two man method. For a fluid that "never comes in contact" with the outside world you would be amazed at what kind of crud comes out of the lines of even a newish car. I like to use ATE super blue fluid when I can find it. Otherwise good old Valvoline synthetic dot 3/4 fluid from the local shop. The benefit of going back and forth between the blue and gold fluid is there is a visual indicator when all the fluid in the lines has been purged. My routine is always; new pads, flush fluid, bed in brakes, small bleed of fluid after bed-in. And yes I use the blue "race" fluid even in our minivan and my truck, the higher the boiling point the better the protection. Pulsing or vibrating brakes can often be fixed with either a bleed or a scrub of the rotors with steel wool and a re-bed procedure. It is very uncommon IME to have warped rotors, it's usually just an uneven pad deposit that causes the pulsation.

inbox788
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by inbox788 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:22 pm

ClevrChico wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:38 pm
I think Honda is overkill on their brake fluid schedule in most situations. My Honda factory fill is eight nine years old and still not dark, but that's probably too long.

There is a former Acura mechanic on Youtube that covered this. Apparently some dealer mechanics would simply use a turkey baster to remove most of the reservoir fluid and refill. That's not exactly a brake flush, so there isn't a guarantee of it actually being done unless you DIY.
Turkey baster might work on circulating fluid like power steering (and mixing old with new fluids is another debate), but with brake fluid that doesn't circulate, it's a bad idea. It's just covering up the problem. It's almost like resetting the oil change indicator and letting you think the oil was actually changed. It's the oil in the line and at the brake piston that needs to be changed (bled) for the service to be useful. IMO, looking at or changing just he reservoir fluid is useless. The level is useful to tell you if it's low or more likely, your brake pads are worn.

FWIW, I've often neglected these 2 or 3 year recommendations. I can't remember if I've ever done a brake fluid replacement, even in my older cars, but I don't hold on to them forever, so after 5 or 10 years, I leave the issue to the next owner.
Flymore wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:24 pm
Brake fluid doesn't circulate like radiator fluid. The fluid in the lines doesn't come in contact with the air.
What I have read, and what I do is pump out and change the fluid in the reservoir that becomes contaminated from moisture in the air.
I'm going to have to research this and see if I can find a more expert opinion on the matter. If there is a rationale, I could be convinced to change my opinion on the turkey baster idea. https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/u ... ber=766725
bob60014 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:33 am
It's cheap insurance to follow the manufacturerers recommendations. However for those that don't, a quick and easy way to test is to obtain a brake fluid test kit. Anyone can do it and you can easily see if the fluid is contaminated.

https://www.familyhandyman.com/automoti ... /view-all/
https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Systems- ... B00E6TXWA6
I assume you pull the fluid from the reservoir. I don't understand how that helps when the fluid in the lines is that is the concern. I'm guessing the idea of non-circulating and mixing isn't completely one way or the other, but it would be nice to see a comparison of the fluid at the brake cylinder vs. reservoir and see that they're the same after some time or prove they're different and there's just not enough circulation with normal driving.

lazydavid
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by lazydavid » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:07 pm

capsaicinguy wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:08 pm
I bleed our cars brakes on a roughly yearly basis or whenever they get new pads. I have a vacuum bleeder that makes it very easy for one person. I sold my big compressor so now I'm back to the two man method.
There are plenty of bleeders that don't require a second person or a compressor. I have a monstrous compressor (80 gallon, 5hp 240v pump), but use a hand-pumped powerbleeder to do my brakes. Even the ones that do require a compressor work fine off of a pancake or hotdog.
capsaicinguy wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:08 pm
I like to use ATE super blue fluid when I can find it.
ATE 500, often called ATE Super Gold is the corollary. The same top-notch brake fluid as ATE Super Blue, without the horrific dye that stains everything. On my European cars, I alternate between Blue and Gold to ensure I get a full flush (as you mentioned). This is the reason they make both.

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Hyperborea
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Hyperborea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:26 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:07 pm
capsaicinguy wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:08 pm
I like to use ATE super blue fluid when I can find it.
ATE 500, often called ATE Super Gold is the corollary. The same top-notch brake fluid as ATE Super Blue, without the horrific dye that stains everything. On my European cars, I alternate between Blue and Gold to ensure I get a full flush (as you mentioned). This is the reason they make both.
ATE Super Blue is not legal to sell in the US because ... it's blue. It was banned about 5 years ago. I gave my last two unopened cans to a neighbour who races as I pack up for moving.
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

lazydavid
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by lazydavid » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:39 pm

Hyperborea wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:26 pm
ATE Super Blue is not legal to sell in the US because ... it's blue. It was banned about 5 years ago. I gave my last two unopened cans to a neighbour who races as I pack up for moving.
Can't resolve the link, but that does ring a bell. ATE 500 it is going forward. Regulators are stupid.

Woodshark
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by Woodshark » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:53 pm

Yes, old fluid can make your brakes fail to operate correctly. Voice of experience here. I'm slightly ashamed to admit this but I had a minivan for over 10 years and that I never changed the brake fluid. I do most of our car maintenance but I honestly had never heard of needing to replace brake fuild unless it was low. Over the course of time, I did notice that it was getting harder and harder to stop but, it being a lightly and seldom used vechicle, I ignored it. One day I was driving and a car in front of me braked hard to a stop. I slammed on the brakes but no matter how much preasure I applied, I couldn't get the van to stop fast enough. Lucky for me I was able to steer onto the median before hitting the car.
I quick internet search on "why my car won't brake fast" showed me the error of my ways. The next day I bleed the lines. I was shocked to see that the old brake fluid was the color of Coca-Cola. One hour and a large bottle of new fluid. Problem solved.

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jharkin
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Re: Is it necessary to replace brake fluid on a car every 3 years?

Post by jharkin » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:51 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:07 pm
munemaker wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:55 pm
lazydavid wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:23 pm
I target to change every 2 years, but don't freak out if it stretches to 3. But skip it entirely at your own peril--literally. use a mityvac like another member suggested, or a powerbleeder like I use, and you can easily do it yourself in under an hour. You're talking a one-time cost of around $60 for the device, plus probably $12 or so each time you do the change in a car, unless for some reason (racing, for example) you need synthetic. Very economical. I've probably done 10 changes at this point.
Is there a significant chance of breaking off the bleeder screw on a high mileage car? Would like to follow your suggestion but don't want to cause a problem.
If the first time the brakes are being bled is past the decade mark, the risk is slightly elevated (meaning it's gone from impossible to extremely unlikely). That said, usually the bleeders themselves are stainless and hold up pretty well. Sometimes the caliper is rusted onto the screw, but the screw itself is sound. If the car is really old and has never been changed, I'd take the cap off and hit it a couple of times with WD40 or PB Blaster, letting it sit for 20-30 minutes after each shot. then go after it gently with a box-end wrench. I'm sure bleeders screws can snap off, but I've never personally seen it in 20+ years of amateur wrenching.

If the current brake fluid was installed less than a decade ago, I would just do the change.
A few years ago I snapped a bleeder off on a 2008 Honda. It was the second time I had changed the fluid on that car, too... ie. not rusted Inplace from a decade.

I take all the precautions, soaking them in PB and always use proper flare nut wrenches... still broke.

A new caliper swap was cheap and less hassle than trying to mess with an easy out........,

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