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There are three common types of
DOT3, DOT4, and DOT5.
DOT3 is the most common and should
also be the cheapest.
Unfortunately, DOT3 brake fluid also
absorbs moisture the fastest and has the
lowest boiling point. DOT4 is also fairly
common but is a little more
DOT4 is designed to absorb moisture
slower and has a higher boiling point.
DOT5 is not as common and is the most
DOT5 does not absorb any moisture and
has the highest boiling point.
DOT3 and DOT4 are clear to amber
in color, while DOT5 is purple.
Ask your mechanic to determine which
type of fluid is required for your car
and how much will be required.
If you do choose to switch to a higher
quality brake fluid, it is strongly
recommended that you perform a
complete brake system flush.
Bleeding vs. Flushing -
The term "bleeding" means to remove
the air locked in the brake system;
whereas, the term "flushing" means to
remove all of the old fluid and replacing
it with new, clean fluid.
Mechanics will usually bleed the brakes
after a component has been replaced
and the hydraulic system had to be
To flush your vehicle's brake system,
simply continue bleeding each wheel
until the fluid runs clean.
ABS brakes are
potentially difficult to
bleed because air can be trapped in
the high-pressure ABS pump and turn
Signs of Brake Failure:
and Noises -
When you hear strange noises when
you depress the brake pedal,
the most common are squeaks and
Friction from the brake lining
Constant grinding sound is never
Under extreme conditions this can
damage the pads and/or lining,
brake drums and rotors.
Pulling to one side or brake drag -
Worn or uneven brake linings or a
damaged brake line can cause your
car to pull to one side.
Brakes that are out of adjustment or have
contaminated fluid can cause brakes
Low or Fading Brake Pedal -
Does the pedal sink to the floor
board when you're stopped at
Or feel "spongy"?
There may be a leak in the
system, air in the brake lines, or the
need for a brake adjustment.
It could also be caused by low fluid,
sticking calipers, worn pads,
or hydraulic system problems.
Brake Light -
Is the "brake" light on?
As soon as you notice any problem,
get it repaired immediately.
Delaying brake repairs is extremely
Inspecting Your Brakes:
Master Cylinder -
The master cylinder, contains a
reservoir for brake fluid.
It is located on the firewall and
should be checked periodically to
ensure the proper fluid level.
Brake Lines -
Attached to the master cylinder,
steel brake tubing runs to all
Brake lines should be inspected
for rust, which can lead to leaks.
If the lines are damaged they should
Brake Hoses -
Rubber brake hoses run from the
brake lines to the brake calipers
and wheel cylinders.
Constant exposure to road grime, dirt,
salt and other elements can cause the
rubber to become brittle and crack,
leading to brake failure.
Calipers and Wheel
Brakes are activated by brake fluid
pressure from the master cylinder
pushing a piston located in the
caliper or wheel cylinder against the
pad or shoe.
A leak can cause erratic braking or
Shoes, Linings and Pads -
The pads and brake shoe linings
should be checked periodically for
uneven or excess wear, cracking on
the friction surface, glazing, or
saturation from brake fluid
If defects are found, replace
the pads immediately.
Shoes should be
worn evenly and
have no rivets protruding to the
and Seals -
The drums should not have excessive
grooves or have a deep "trough" dug
into them where the shoes ride.
Wheel bearings should be inspected
and lubricated periodically.
Worn wheel bearings, which can cause
faulty steering as well as erratic braking,
should be replaced.
should be inspected completely
around the surface and on both
sides for any grooves or obvious
If defects are found, replace your
Any rotor discoloration may be a
sign of overheating.
Badly worn or
can damage wheel bearings and
the complete wheel hub assembly.
These parts often cost as much or more
than the brakes themselves.
Parking Brake -
The parking brake should be adjusted
While we attempt to insure these tips and
information is complete and accurate,
These tips are merely a recommendation
to help save you time, money and
to stay safe on the road.
Check with your mechanic for professional
advice or service before attempting
any work you are not qualified to do.