Get A Grip
by Pat Goss
There’s a lot more to maintaining the brake system on a car than most people think. See, a driver typically thinks only of brake pads, but it goes a lot deeper than that. One of the first things to be concerned with is brake fluid.
Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which simply means that it absorbs moisture. And that moisture can do a lot of damage to the internals of the various components in the hydraulic system on your car. Now, here’s what new fluid looks like [right]. Here’s what it looks like when it’s two years old [left]. Never leave brake fluid in any automobile for more than two years.
Now if you want to check it in between, here’s a product called Strip Dip. These strips get dipped into the brake fluid. Then they’re compared to this chart, and the color tells you whether or not your fluid is going bad before the two-year interval. It’s a pretty clever idea.
Now, what are the parts that are attacked? Well, anything that contains brake fluid, expensive stuff like the master cylinder. Or if you have ABS, the ABS pump. Now inside the ABS pump salt-like crystals can form. That’s as a result of moisture reacting with the metal in the pump. It really tears it up. And you don’t know until that time that you’re making a panic stop and your ABS doesn’t work. And also, it’s extremely expensive on most cars to replace or repair these units. Changing the fluid will prevent those problems.
Now, it even goes deeper. You see, brakes should be checked every year, and when they’re checked, they should be serviced. And that means there’s some lubricants that are necessary. Products like these are for rubber-to-metal parts or metal-to-metal parts. You have to use the proper lubricant. Now why are these important? Well, the brake caliper moves back and forth, and where it slides you have to have the proper lubricant on the slide so that the brake system will wear as it should and perform as it should. If you do all of this, your brakes will last a long time and they’ll serve you very well.