A fluid MOT

Brake fluid from Comma

Published:  18 February, 2016

Despite it being one of the most safety-critical vehicle components, brake fluid - specifically the temperature-tested condition of brake fluid - is completely ignored in the annual MOT test. While this surprising omission has never been satisfactorily explained by the DVSA, nationwide research initiated by Comma and conducted through independent workshops showed that the brake fluid in over half (52%) of the cars tested at 200°C or less and therefore needed replacement sooner rather than later in order to restore full braking efficiency. Most disturbingly, nearly a third (29%) had a potentially lethal temperature reading of 181°C or less and needed immediate brake fluid replacement.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, it absorbs atmospheric moisture in use, which progressively degrades the condition of the fluid by lowering its boiling point. The result is reduced hydraulic pressure, so-called soft pedal, and diminished braking effect. For this reason, most vehicle and brake system manufacturers recommend that brake fluid should be changed at two-yearly intervals, irrespective of vehicle age or mileage.

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