Brake Fluid – Have you checked yours?
A technical Q&A section in Roundel (BMW Car Club of America’s magazine) contained a response stressing the need for frequent checking of brake fluid. It went on to say that BMW’s maintenance schedule required an annual brake fluid replacement (if need be) until the time they started offering the four year maintenance on their cars and stretched brake fluid replacement to a three year time frame, to save on cost it would appear.
Some might argue that they are sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended timeline when it comes to brake fluid for the Honda S2000, but the fact remains that this is often something several of us overlook in our quest for a whole lot of SHOW & GO, overlooking the WHOA!
The question now arises as to why checking the condition of brake fluid is important. By its inherent nature, brake fluid is hygroscopic – it starts absorbing moisture from the moment it is exposed to the atmosphere. Even the hydraulic braking system we have in our cars is not completely sealed off and brake fluid tends to absorb moisture and deteriorate over time. Moisture content lowers the boiling point of the fluid and leads to deteriorating braking performance over time. This deterioration happens much sooner when the car is frequently driven hard be it on the track or around cones in an autocross section. If left unchanged for a long time, the fluid will cause damage to the brake components, leaks, rusting on the pistons and will lead to a more expensive overhaul of the brakes on your S2000.
Fresh brake fluid is clear and golden (depending on the fluid) akin to vegetable oil. If it appears muddy to the eye, then it needs replacement. Tools like test strips, electronic brake fluid testers etc. may also be used if you can’t tell whether your fluid needs replacement just yet.
Several driving schools require a complete technical evaluation of the car prior to allowing a car on the track and make it mandatory to have had a brake fluid change no later than a month prior to the event. That is because it is no fun braking at the end of a long straight only to realize that you seem to be headed for the ARMCO crash barrier and having your life flash before your eyes.
Honda recommends changing the brake fluid in the S2000 every three years in the owners manual and in the factory service manual. If you were to study the fine print in both, Honda suggests that under conditions that are not ordinary, changes MAY need to be made more frequently. Now let me state for the record that none of us live in ideal conditions unless we live in a bone dry desert land (think Arizona). Therefore, it is best for us to frequently check on the condition of the brake fluid and have it replaced before it causes any damage to both you and the car. This holds true especially for the weekend warriors amongst us.
Our Under The Hood forum has links to several DIY articles for those who want to attempt this job on their own, but please be warned that brake fluid is extremely corrosive and can damage the paint on your car if spilled. In addition, it must not touch human skin as it will absorb in and lead to complications. If attempting to do this for the first time, please ensure that you do this under the watchful eye of an expert and ensure you have taken adequate precautions.
With all that said, allow us to ask you – when was the last time you checked the condition of your brake fluid?
NOTE: S2KI welcomes the opinions of its members on the S2000 and on all topics related to the S. Should you feel the creative urge to pen a few words then by all means do so and PM Energetic, Aashish2, Onehots2k OR GavinSSAP1 OR send us links to what you would like us to write about and we will feature you (or your community) on the S2KI Home Page.
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2. Brake Bleeding