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Brake Fluid, The Forgotten Maintenance

Brake Fluid, The Forgotten Maintenance

Brake Fluid, The Forgotten Maintenance

How often should or do we need to change out our brake fluid. Have you ever changed yours, and why you should? One of the often overlooked maintenance items is your brake fluid.

Living in Colorado and riding high altitude single track on steep mountains provides a perfect environment for experiencing a loss of braking power. Today I spoke with a rider who told of his riding this weekend with a friend who lost his braking for the second week in a row. After losing his rear brakes the first week he replaced his pads, believing worn pads to be the problem. This week the same rider lost his rear brakes again, and did not know why that could happen.

The Primary Culprit to Brake Failure

The primary culprit of brake fade is typically a result of overheating the brake fluid which can cause it to become saturated with tiny air bubbles. Riding in higher elevations such as we do in Colorado there is less oxygen which reduces the cooling of brakes. Another problem is brake dragging, which will generate enough heat to cause your brake fluid to boil and result in brake fade or failure.

The Solution is Easy

The solution to preventing brake failure comes in the form of proper MAINTENANCE. As brake fluid ages and goes through hot and cold cycles it takes on moisture (water) by its mere presence of having access to the air. Water boils at a lower temp than brake fluid and that causes air bubbles develop which causes brake fade. So be sure to include brake fluid changes to your regular maintenance schedule.

When you buy brake fluid spend the extra money and get a high quality fluid with a dry boiling point of “600 degrees F” or more.  Buying the 12 oz. bottle at the auto parts store for $2.99 may not serve you well in severe conditions. Once your brake fluid gets to the boiling point, brake fade can occur at any time do to the air bubbles.

Which one do you think is the best product? Post your comments below.
Motul   $22.00
Valoline  $ 2.99

Eric Miller

Eric Miller

Web developer, Designer specializing in content management systems. I have a long history of involvement in the motorcycle industry and racing in the Southern California Deserts. 

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One thought on “Brake Fluid, The Forgotten Maintenance

Drew says:

Cheap or expensive fluid doesn’t make as much difference- as FRESH fluid. I’ve used the Motul RBF600, its boiled fairly early in its service life- (6 months). I’ve used cheap Napa Dot 4 when there wasn’t anything else available and it worked well too. Change it often and you will be good to go, or stop that is.

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