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View Full Version : Brake Fluid Flush interval


Jacket
01-25-2010, 06:09 PM
Anyone have reasons as to why there is such variability with vehicle manufacturers related to changing brake fluid? My wife's Honda product has a strict "every 3 years" service interval to flush and fill the brake system. My Tacoma, on the other hand, doesn't appear to have a service interval defined. And I can't recall ever having changed brake fluid in my old 4Runners (one of which I owned for 9 years and 150k miles....). We had my wife's Subaru from 0-96k miles, and never changed the fluid (because the manual never said we have to).

I get the fact that brake fluid will take on and retain moisture, and this can be bad for the system (performance, corrosion, etc.), so for something so simple yet critical for safe operation of a vehicle, I'm surprised there's not a more commonly adopted service interval across car makers. I mean, it's an easy DIY job, or for around $30 you can get it done at the local brake job chain. Facts? Theories? Discuss.

Red_Chili
01-25-2010, 06:12 PM
Standard for motorcycles (more aluminum) is 2 years. I have gone beyond that and destroyed a master cylinder simply from that neglect (corrosion).

Brake fluid is cheap and pressure bleeders make it a pleasure. I do mine every 2 years.

Hmmm... I think the DD is past due... :doh:

rover67
01-25-2010, 06:38 PM
Dunno what you should do but I do mine yearly if not more often on systems that are "stressed" (like the 60 with 35's, mountain spirited driving, and stock brakes). Probably habit from racing days. Every day cars I do it when they need pads. Good question though and I wasn't any help.

Fancy fluid with higher boiling points i've found tends to be more hydroscopic also, so I run regular stuff to avoid any short term need to bleed/flush. Of course the trade off is a lower boiling point.

Has this been other's experience as well?

MDH33
01-25-2010, 06:44 PM
When it turns black in the reservoir, or starts leaking out the corroded cylinders, time to change it. :hill:

powderpig
01-26-2010, 08:29 AM
It is all about the appearence of no service to the 100k mile mark. Some companies like this more, customers are happy to not service.
If you looked back into older service manuals, 30k miles is a magic mark for servicing a bunch of things, like wheel bearing grease, gear lubes(diff, tranny), ATF, brake fluid, etc.
Service make the beast live longer and create less problems.
cheers, robbie

Red_Chili
01-26-2010, 09:30 AM
It is all about the appearence of no service to the 100k mile mark. Some companies like this more, customers are happy to not service.

And then their junk really IS junk at 100K... :doh:

FWIW, I use Valvoline SynPower brake fluid. When I put it in I seemed to notice a slight improvement. Anywho, still DOT 4 but a high boiling point. Seems to stay cleaner too.

corsair23
01-26-2010, 01:02 PM
FWIW, I use Valvoline SynPower brake fluid.

FWIW Valvoline no longer sells that :(

MUD Discussion on SynPower (http://forum.ih8mud.com/80-series-tech/206111-valvoline-synpower-brake-fluid.html)

Link to the "new" Valvoline brake fluid

Valvoline Brake Fluid (http://www.valvoline.com/products/consumer-products/brake-fluids/dot-3-4-brake-fluid/28)


As to Matt's question...my interval went from "You're supposed to change the brake fluid :confused:" when I owned my Durango to every 2-3 years now on the 80s (~16-24k miles).

I need to flush the brakes on the 40 this summer...What fluid do people recommend using in older FJ40 systems? I think I remember reading that synthetic may not be so good for older systems?

Red_Chili
01-26-2010, 01:42 PM
:lmao:

Yep, about two years ago... LOL

OK, the bottle changed (and maybe some of the chemistry...). Valvoline synthetic then.

DaveInDenver
01-26-2010, 02:40 PM
Data I've compiled over the years on boiling points of various brake fluids. Some of these are very expensive, $20/quart or more. I do not spend that kind of money, but Summit has some of them.

Personally I'm using plain old Castrol LMA since the reformulation of Ford Heavy Duty fluid, p/n PM-1. The new Ford is PM-1C and has a lower boiling point than the old stuff (prior to 2007).

All the budget racers used to love Ford HD because it was fairly cheap (I was paying about $7.50/quart) DOT-3 with a high boiling point and came in metal cans. Last time I checked Ford was selling PM-1C in plastic bottles just like everyone else. Plastic is bad because it leeches where as metal cans can sit forever on the shelf. And being a lower grade of fluid it was no longer worth it. I get LMA from Pep Boys at Broadway and Alameda.

I flush my brakes and clutch roughly once a year.

MDH33
01-26-2010, 02:59 PM
I need to flush the brakes on the 40 this summer...What fluid do people recommend using in older FJ40 systems? I think I remember reading that synthetic may not be so good for older systems?


Doing a full flush, I've used DOT4 in my stock 40 brake brake system.

Rzeppa
01-26-2010, 06:28 PM
Brake fluid is cheap and pressure bleeders make it a pleasure. I do mine every 2 years.

Where does one obtain a pressure bleeder? I know they're not cheap and remember first reading about them on the Land Cruiser Mailing List many moons ago. Basically a doohicky that you put on where the cap of the reservior goes, cuts your compressor pressure down to maybe 10-20 PSI or so, and no bubbles and no wifey complaining that she H8ts helping you bleed brakes.

Yeah yeah, I have a vacuum job that kinda sorta works, but I want to get an actual pressure bleeder.

I have asked at every parts store I go to and all they seem to have are the vacuum jobbers. Even the dude on the Snap-On truck didn't have one and didn't know where to get one.

DaveInDenver
01-26-2010, 07:25 PM
Where does one obtain a pressure bleeder? I know they're not cheap and remember first reading about them on the Land Cruiser Mailing List many moons ago. Basically a doohicky that you put on where the cap of the reservior goes, cuts your compressor pressure down to maybe 10-20 PSI or so, and no bubbles and no wifey complaining that she H8ts helping you bleed brakes.

Yeah yeah, I have a vacuum job that kinda sorta works, but I want to get an actual pressure bleeder.

I have asked at every parts store I go to and all they seem to have are the vacuum jobbers. Even the dude on the Snap-On truck didn't have one and didn't know where to get one.
http://www.gadgetonline.com/PowerBleeder.jpg

This is the one I use, it's the universal Power Bleeder made by Motive Products. They have gone up in price since I bought mine. Looks like they go for $63, when I got mine it was about $50. Works pretty well on the brake but the clutch master you have to take care getting the adapter on since the reservoir is smaller.

http://store.motiveproducts.com/shared/StoreFront/product_detail.asp?RowID=60&CS=motive&All=

Truth is that for about 1/2 of this you can collect all the pieces from Ace using a garden sprayer as the main unit. But the Motive one has a nice pressure gage molded into it that make it handy.

60wag
01-26-2010, 08:08 PM
I bleed my brakes using the following procedure. It's simple and requires no special tools. In fact it's so simple that I feel like i'm doing something wrong.

I shove a tube (18 inches) onto the brake bleeder . Clear tube is best because you can see through it but vacuum tube works just as well. The key is that it is a small diameter tube so that the brake fluid won't drain out of the tube when the flow in the tube stops. The free end of the tube goes in a bottle. Again clear is good but not necessary. I crack the brake bleeder open a bit, not wide open but about a quarter to half turn. I then pump the brake pedal with my right hand and look under the truck for fluid flowing out of the tube. Fluid squirts into the bottle and stops when I let go of the pedal. The tube stays full of fluid and no bubbles enter the bleeder. When the reservoir is almost empty, I fill it to the top with fresh fluid and keep pumping. When the fluid in the tube is nice and clear, I close the bleeder and move onto the next one. I start with the wheel furthest from the master cyl and work closer to it. Its easy to pump a quart of juice through the system to flush it out. What am I doing wrong? Why do you need a power flush tool?

subzali
01-26-2010, 09:35 PM
i think you're fine as long as you beat the air bubble back to the bleeder.

Air Randy
01-26-2010, 10:44 PM
i think you're fine as long as you beat the air bubble back to the bleeder.

X2, for flushing this method is fine ut if you have air in the system you have to get it out of the hose and into the container. Also the "official" Toyota method for bleeding the brakes is drivers rear 1st, passenger rear 2nd, passenger front 3rs and drivers front last.

Red_Chili
01-26-2010, 11:35 PM
http://www.gadgetonline.com/PowerBleeder.jpg

This is the one I use, it's the universal Power Bleeder made by Motive Products. They have gone up in price since I bought mine. Looks like they go for $63, when I got mine it was about $50. Works pretty well on the brake but the clutch master you have to take care getting the adapter on since the reservoir is smaller.

http://store.motiveproducts.com/shared/StoreFront/product_detail.asp?RowID=60&CS=motive&All=

Truth is that for about 1/2 of this you can collect all the pieces from Ace using a garden sprayer as the main unit. But the Motive one has a nice pressure gage molded into it that make it handy.
That's the one.

Love the thing. You can bleed without it, but one thing is especially true with older systems: pumping the pedal sends the seals into an area they normally don't go. I have had one master cylinder fail from this. The pressure bleeder just moves the fluid out, without operating any of the pistons.

Hey, if the old fashioned way works for ya, it works. I love the pressure bleeder approach though. It will even bleed a hard-to-do clutch system with ease; much better than wrestling with it by pedal (DAMHIK :rant:).

corsair23
01-27-2010, 01:20 AM
x3 on the Motive Power Bleeder....

IIRC I picked mine up off ebay pretty cheap. Just make sure you get the one with the right adapter or the one with all the adapters if you plan to use it on various vehicles of different makes. It is great for flushing the brake system, not so great for just bleeding them if you really don't want to go through too much fluid...Like after replacing pads and the brakes are just a tad mushy.

The other option I've considered are the speed bleeders (http://www.speedbleeder.com/)

@ $7 each you could do a couple vehicles for less than the cost of the power bleeder...Although I guess with these the issue Bill mentions might not be resolved? But it makes the old school pump method a one person operation for sure :)

http://www.speedbleeder.com/images/sbani.gif

Red_Chili
01-27-2010, 09:21 AM
Those have a decent reputation FAIK. They don't do much for the situation where you are trying to make air go in all kinds of unnatural directions though. The pressure bleeder takes care of that very nicely because you are not limited to the throw of the master cylinder, it is a steady flow. I never have to bench bleed a new MC, just test the pressure seal without fluid, fill the tank, pump it up, and lay on the creeper bleeding fluid.

There is a downside. If you fall asleep you will go through a lot of fluid, then have to start over. :lmao:

farnhamstj
01-27-2010, 09:34 AM
bleeding on the 100series takes 40 pumps on the pedal before anything starts to happen, just to share. Is it that way for 80 series?

Jacket
01-27-2010, 10:00 AM
My wife seems to enjoy helping me bleed brakes. And the last time I did it a couple of months ago on the 40, my 8 yr old daughter stepped up to be the pumper.

Interesting theories and info on fluid intervals, especially the one about manufacturers trying to reduce the number of <100k miles maintenance items. But I still find interesting the number of differences between Honda and Toyota for some maintenance:

Brake Fluid: Honda=every 3 years regardless of mileage. Toyota=N/A
Auto tranny: Honday=3 flushes between 0 - 75000 miles. Toyota=flush at 100k miles.
Engine oil: Honda=every 7500 miles. Toyota=every 5000 miles. (both have moved from 5w30 to 5w20).
Coolant: both have 0 changes for < 100k miles
Diff: Honda=every 30k. Toyota=every 60k.

Toyota does have a "harsh conditions" service plan that increases the intervals, but other than that their maintenance reqts are far less than Honda.

rover67
01-27-2010, 10:23 AM
here's another question...

have the manufactureres increased service intervals of fluids to reduce environmental impact? In other words, can they claim to be greener because their cars use less oil and require disposal of less oil? I thought I heard that somewhere. I have NO idea if it is even remotely true.

Red_Chili
01-27-2010, 10:44 AM
Toyota does have a "harsh conditions" service plan that increases the intervals, but other than that their maintenance reqts are far less than Honda.
Even though the systems are almost identical. Hmmm. :rolleyes: