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How to Change the Brake Fluid in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

A lot of drivers forget that brake fluid can wear out over time. As a result, many motorists neglect checking the brake fluid in their Vehicles. Yet mechanics recommend that brake fluid be checked every three months and changed Vehicles least once each year. It's a fairly easy job, except that you have to be careful as spills can take off the paint. But you can save money on service bills by doing the job yourself.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Brake Fluid in a Ford Explorer

Make sure that no water gets into the brake system while you are checking the brake fluid. Water can effect how brakes operate. Corrosion occurs when moisture gets into the system. Dirty fluid can also speed up the mechanical wear in the brake system and eventually lead to failing brakes.

Locate the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir that is attached on top of the master cylinder, which operates the brake system. The master cylinder is at the back of the engine toward the driver’s side. Reservoirs on 1998 and newer Ford Explorer models are made of a translucent hard plastic. Older models may have reservoirs made of metal. If you can’t find it, refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Check the level of brake fluid first without removing the cap. There should be a line that indicates when the reservoir is full. If the reservoir is metal, you will have to remove the cover to see if more brake fluid is needed.

Remove the cap from the reservoir if the brake fluid is low. Inspect the condition of the fluid. If you see dirt and sediment in the reservoir, the fluid is due for a change. Do not judge the condition of the brake fluid by its color. Oftentimes, fluid that is light in color contains as much moisture as fluid that looks murky and is dark in color. There is actually no relationship between the color of brake fluid and its moisture content. Do not keep the reservoir cap off longer than necessary to prevent fluid from absorbing too much moisture from the air.

Clean all dirt away from around the cap and fill to the full line or to within ¼-inch of the top edge of the reservoir. If the reservoir has a dual reservoir, pour brake fluid into both sides. Use DOT-3 brake fluid, which is usually recommended. Be careful not to spill any brake fluid under the hood as it can damage electrical connections. Replace the cap. Look for signs of leaking brake fluid around the engine. If you suspect there might be a leak, check fluid levels again to see if there has been a rapid drop.

Items you will need

  • DOT-3 brake fluid

 How to Change Brake Fluid in a Honda Accord

How to Change Brake Fluid in a Honda Accord

Remove the cover on the master cylinder, which is located under the hood in the rear of the engine. Suck the old brake fluid out of the master cylinder with a turkey baster, and fill the master cylinder with new brake fluid to within 1/4 inch of the top. The only recommended brake fluid for a Honda Accord is Honda Brake Fluid Dot 3. Put the cover back on the master cylinder, but do not lock it. You will need to refill the master cylinder throughout this process.

Spray the bleeder screws on all wheels with oil to help loosen old bleeders then use a socket wrench to open the bleeder screw on all 4 wheels. Remove the bleeder screws and replace them with new bleeders. Screw in the new bleeders so they are closed. You can get new bleeders from a Honda parts shop.

Have another person get in the car and pump the brake pedal a few times.

Attach the clear hose to the bleeder screw on the wheel furthest away from the master cylinder, and put the end of the hose in a clear jar. Begin the process on the rear passenger side wheel, then move to the rear driver's side wheel, then the front passenger wheel and, finally, the front driver's side wheel.

Open the bleeder screw then have the person in the car slowly press down on the brake pedal. You will see fluid come out of the hose. When the pedal is fully pressed down, close the bleeder screw. You do not want any air sucked back into the brake system when the pedal is released. Have the person in the car slowly let up on the brake pedal. Repeat this step until there are no more air bubbles coming out of the hose.

Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 on the other 3 wheels in the sequenced explained in Step 4. Remember to check the level of brake fluid in the master cylinder after you are done with each wheel. Keep the master cylinder full with brake fluid. Make sure all the bleeder screws are closed and the top on the master cylinder is secured when you are finished bleeding the brakes.

Items you will need

  • 2 to 3 cans of brake fluid

  • Small box end wrench to fit the bleeder screw

  • Clear container

  • Clear plastic hose

  • Turkey baster

  • Spray oil

  • 2 people

 How to Change Brake Fluid in a Motorcycle

Attach the bleeding kit tube to the brake fluid nipple on the brake caliper. Twist loose the nipple. The old brake fluid will empty through the kit's tube into the kit's container. Place the container that comes with the kit into a larger container to collect any spillage.

Remove the master cylinder cap to make sure it does not completely empty. Refill the master cylinder with fresh brake fluid while the old fluid is flushed out.

Pump the brake lever so the brake fluid is forced through the tube into the container. You will know that the fluid is fully flushed when the fluid in the bleeding kit tube is completely clear.

Keep squeezing the brake and re-tighten the brake fluid nipple. Replace the master cylinder top cover. Remove the brake bleeding kit and clean up any spillage. The fluid will harm the paint if it is not cleaned completely.

Items you will need

  • Brake bleeding kit 10mm spanner wrench Rag Overflow container New brake fluid

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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