The Skoda Fabia is an excellent family car that’s packed with safety technology including a reliable braking system. However, every set of brakes need brake fluid to work efficiently, and many drivers neglect their brakes. We rely on our brakes to stop quickly in an emergency, and this is compromised if there is a lack of brake fluid. Let’s take a closer look at brake fluid and why we need it in our cars.
What is Brake Fluid?
In the past, car manufacturers use a cable operated brake system to slow and stop their cars. In the future, we may move on to a fully electric braking system to stop more precisely. However, here in the present, we use hydraulic pressure to move force from the brake pedal to the braking system. The fluid used in this hydraulic system is known as brake fluid, but this is sort of a “catch all” term for a number of different liquids and formulas that have a common property.
Brake fluid needs to boil at a higher level than water, this would be a minimum of 140ºC, and there is a good reason for this. Kinetic energy from movement is converted into heat by friction, and if regular water was used (historically it was), the brake fluid would quickly reach and then pass the boiling point.
There are two more key properties that a good brake fluid should have. Firstly, they should not corrode any of the internal braking system components. Secondly, the brake fluid should not compress and increase the pressure in the brake line. Some common fluids used in brake fluid over the years include alcohol, castor oil, mineral oil, silicon and glycol ether.
How Does the Braking System Work?
When you apply pressure to the brake pedal, brake fluid is sent from the master cylinder through the brake line to the brake caliper or cylinder. If you have brake calipers, the two halves are squeezed together with hydraulic pressure, and if you have a brake cylinder, the brake shoes are expanded. The brake pads will then make contact with a rotor or drum to slow the progress of the wheels and eventually bring them to a halt.
Why Does Brake Fluid Need Changing?
Many car manufacturers recommend that the brake fluid is changed at least every two years to keep the brakes working well. This involves draining, flushing and replenishing the brake fluid and then bleeding the system to remove any trapped air bubbles. The seals in the braking system can draw in water over time, and this will be added to the brake fluid. Eventually, the water content will change the properties of the brake fluid and lower the boiling point. When this happens, the driver may notice that the braking feels less precise and a braking failure may not be too far behind.