Colonial – Brake Fluid – Informational Blog 2013.09.24

One of the sometimes forgotten, but critically important fluids on your bus is, brake fluid.

Colonial – Brake Fluid – Informational Blog 2013.09.24


Brake fluid is possibly the single most neglected component on your vehicle.  Your brake fluid should be checked at regular intervals as you would check any other component of your brake system.

Why do we need to check the fluid?  Overtime standard brake fluid absorbs water.  In two years it can become saturated which can cause components to suffer internal rust damage, you don’t want rust to collect in/on costly ABS components.  Saturated fluid can/will overheat and boil in the caliper.  The boiling produces gas bubbles, which affect the brake system; producing a 'soft' brake pedal, with long travel.  This may require you to pump your brakes just to get a pedal or breaking action.

Most vehicles use DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid.  Though they are chemically similar (both glycol ether based) DOT 4 boils at a higher temperature.  DOT 5, a silicone based brake fluid, can be more resistant to absorbing moisture which may seem like an advantage.  In practical use it can mean that water that doesn’t get into the hydraulic system can collect in other pockets where it may freeze or boil.  This fluid is not recommended by vehicle manufacturers for use with ABS.  Our best advice - follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for which fluid to use in your bus, and have it periodically inspected.

Along with a proper maintenance program, including brake fluid replacement, this will keep your brake and ABS system in the best shape possible.

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