Yearly Brake System Maintenance

For some of us, we have been fortunate enough that we have been able to enjoy our classic cars much later in the year than normal. Others were forced to put them to bed quite some time ago. If you are one of the few that has enjoyed the fall and early winter months but are now looking to put the car away for a short period of time, you probably are still going to follow your traditional checklist for winterizing your vehicle. That will include a wash and wax, a fuel stabilizer for the fuel system, changing the oil and all of the other normal stuff.

We are here as a reminder to say, don’t forget the brake system!!

The other side of the coin is the people that live in areas with weather that allows for driving year round. This is your reminder that something needs to be done each year. Just because you don’t have a winterizing schedule doesn’t mean that the brake system and every other system does not require some form of maintenance.

There are many systems within the vehicle that don’t require any work. Your brake system is not that system. Brakes are an important safety system designed to keep drivers and passengers safe, so it makes sense to take the time winterize and/or do regular yearly maintenance. This process is fast and easy and will pay for itself now and down the road. Just follow these three simple steps:

Change the Brake Fluid — Remember, brake fluid attracts moisture into the system. This can happen when the cap is removed, through the vent in the master cylinder lid, and even through older rubber brake hoses where the pores of the rubber are small enough to allow air in but not yet large enough to let fluid out. There is nothing that can be done to prevent air from entering the system but changing the fluid and putting fresh, dry brake fluid in the system is certainly something that will help over time.

Bleed the Brakes – Once the old brake fluid has been completely flushed out of the system, fill the entire system with a high quality brake fluid. This will leave a fresh, dry system that should leave you with zero worries about rust creating havoc in your brake system during winter storage.

Don’t Neglect the Parking Brake Assembly – When raising the vehicle up to remove the wheels and tires, many folks set the park brake to aid in the process of jacking the car up instead of using a wheel chock. Once you have raised the car and removed the wheels and tires, reach inside and release the park brake. Leaving the park brake set all winter can lead to hardware fatigue or cause the pads to fuse to the rotor.

Proper maintenance and winterizing with your car not only protects your investment, it minimizes repairs and gives you the best chances of making each and every car show or driving event a reality. Don’t cut corners…remember your brakes. You’ll be glad you did!

Article Courtesy of: Master Power Brakes

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11 Responses to “Yearly Brake System Maintenance”

  1. Eric Emory

    Hey Classic Car Experts! I have a 1977 Firebird Trans Am 403, and unfortunately need to manually bleed my brakes. I just bought this car a few months ago and I have to replace the calipers on the front. Any advice, suggestions, information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  2. Jerry Hager

    I lost a brake line on the rear of my 65 Chev, Impala and now I want to replace the whole system. What do you have ?

  3. Bill Gettler

    I use silicone brake fluid and I haven’t any trouble with the brakes.

  4. David Johnson

    Great info.... On point will follow

  5. Gene

    Good advise i am a new owner of 68 pont,on insp the brake hoses were bad . The brake system had not been flushed in a long time.

  6. herempel

    What's the best way to flush the old fluid out,keep pushing new fluid through?

  7. Gary

    What is BTY brake fluid?

  8. Gene Martin

    Great article. You may wish to use Dot 4 Brake fluid instead of the common Dot 3. Dot 4 is a bit more expensive but it is less likely to absorb moisture like Dot 3. Do not confuse with Dot 5 which is a silicone based fluid. Never mix Dot 3 or Dot 4 with Dot 5. Dot 3 and Dot 4 are completely miscible., but not with Dot 5. Hope this helps.

  9. Bill

    Good advice. I had my brakes flushed awhile back and found that the front hoses for the calipers were ballooning out and ready to burst. A penny of prevention sure beats a pound of disaster.

  10. John Linden

    Careful with bleeding the brakes! My creditenals 50 years in the automotive business, Technical Trainer for 35 years, 14 ASE certifications, one of the test question writers for ASE, subject matter expert in brakes! When you manually bleed the brakes DO NOT allow the brake pedal to go all the way to the floor. The primary cup inside the master cylinder could easily become damaged, if this happens you will have to rebuild or replace the master cylinder. The longer a vehicle sits the more surface rust will developed inside the bore of the master cylinder. My suggestion would be to power bleed it or have the brake fluid flushed at a shop that has the proper equipment, very common for them to have it. If you are forced to foot bleed the brakes (again bad idea) when you pump up the brake pedal and the it goes down when the bleeder valve is opened place one foot under the brake pedal so it does not bottom out. A brake fluid flush should cost you around $80.00, a lot less expensive than replacing a master cylinder on a older classic vehicle. BTY brake fluid is hydroscopic and does absorve moisture. DO NOT allow anyone to convince you to change from dot 3 to dot 4 or vice versa. Dot 5 is a completely different brake fluid, is not comparable with 3 or 4. 5 is a silicon base, purple in color, if you were to mix them and then let it sit you would visually see a separation of the fluids within minutes.