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Old 12-16-2009, 10:43 AM   #1
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Why Change Brake Fluid

Alan Stegich the National Service Director of Workhorse Custom Chassis has asked me to put this up for you guys. It can not be stressed enough that brake fluid requires that it be periodically changed. This is going to be included in the new "Owner's Manual" and other maintenance recommendations and publications developed by Workhorse.

Workhorse is recommending that brake fluid be changed every 2 years.

Ford has had a brake fluid change recommendation published in their Maintenance Schedules for quite some time. Ford recommends that brake fluid be changed every 2 years.

OEMs form all over the world including BMW and other prestige vehicles all insist on periodic brake fluid change as a condition of maintaining their warranty in effect.

I would expect that we can get this issue off center and that we can finally put to rest whether or not this important routine needs to be implemented. Changing brake fluid in a timely manner will assure reliable brake operation, the ability to stop shorter in the event of a panic stop and extended performance of all the mechanical brake components.

If you have a new vehicle or "new" brakes you should consider accomplishing the brake fluid change as recommended. Going forward all Workhorse W-20-22 Series owners will have resolved their current brake situation which is subject to the recall. The newly redesigned calipers will not absolve us from having to change our brake fluid. I do expect that after having the recall completed and that with routine maintenance implemented, RV brakes will last for a very long time.
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Old 12-16-2009, 03:51 PM   #2
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Just changed my BF yesterday using the gravity method. Second time since new. Had it done professionally at Brazels' about 2 1/2 years ago.

Was quite easy to do using a newly bought basting syringe and a gallon of DOT3 BF from WM.

I siphoned most of old fluid out of the tank above the master cylinder using a clean rubber hose. Then, after sucking up the last amounts of old fluid from the master cylinder tank using the baster, I cleaned and dried the baster with denatured alcohol before using it with the new fluid. It took many baster refills to top up the brake fluid tank, I used more than a quart of new fluid for this, before starting the gravity flush. Later I found I had room enough above the tank that I could have/did use/d a one cup measuring cup to add fluid.

Starting at the PS rear, I let the bleeder drain into a container thru a piece of hose for about 25 minutes. The fluid color was the same dark amber color as that removed from the top tank. Having only drained about less than a cup of fluid, I repeated this twice again with bleeder opened more adding new fluid to the MC as I went along. By this time the fluid color coming out was a much lighter amber so I did a final single 2 person bleed just to make sure no air got into the caliper. Than proceeded to the DS rear and basically repeated the process. It only took 2 repeats to get to the same color. Ditto for PS front and then DS front. Total time spent was about 2-3 hours. The fluid at the calipers wasn't as clear as the new fluid but close enough to make me believe I did as much as what was done at Brazels' and by displacing almost twice as much fluid through the system(4qts) as they used(4 pints was charged).
While I was in the mood I also flushed my 91 Sahara(second time in 19 years and 2004 liberty(first time). Seeing how simply this went It will be easy to make this a routine part of maintenance. Try it!

Marty

And furthermore my second grandson was borne today!
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:14 PM   #3
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And furthermore my second grandson was borne today!
Congratulations, We have a 3rd grandchild and he was born on September 7th.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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Thanks, This make 4 total grandchildren. Guess I will be expected to keep RV ing so these new ones get a chance to enjoy the road trips too.
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Old 12-17-2009, 01:46 PM   #5
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Driver, I am one who doesn't have a problem changing the brake fluid - had mine done last fall. However, I do wish WCC would make a concerted effort to reduce cost for this service at their authorized service centers. Most Ford garages will change brake fluid for less than $100 in Ford RVs. In the Columbus, Ohio area WCC service centers are charging $300-450. Yeah, I know, do it yourself but I am not comfortable doing anything with the brake system. I really believe that it would be in WCC best inerest to work to reduce cost in this sensitive area. Regards, Harry
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Old 12-17-2009, 02:36 PM   #6
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I really believe that it would be in WCC best inerest to work to reduce cost in this sensitive area.
Harry, Point taken!
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:17 PM   #7
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I have had my brake fluid changed, flushed and filled, twice at the local Midas muffler shop for $75 each time. This is without pulling the wheels. That is on a 36' Alpine diesel pusher. I would think you could find a local shop to do this at a much less expensive cost.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:22 PM   #8
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I would think you could find a local shop to do this at a much less expensive cost.
I expect your right! There certainly isn't anything unusual about flushing a hydraulic brake system
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:47 AM   #9
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A final negotiation stance for someone considering a major purchase in the near future could, should, might wanna think about is to add the stipluation that the service department perform a major brake fluid flush in x # of months or miles after purchase at no cost or for a fee of $X.XXX. Obviously in writing. That is assuming the buyer (and dealer) will be in the same area a year or so after the purchase date. Funny how the sales department some times buckles at the knees just prior to closing a deal. The sales manager usually has a little more clout than the service manager within a dealership organization.

Just a thought.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:59 AM   #10
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Just a thought.
bdaball, That's an excellent suggestion. That said one must be mindful that they can perform the work or sub it out to a service center although a year's worth of oil changes might be more up their alley.
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:58 AM   #11
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A final negotiation stance for someone considering a major purchase in the near future could, should, might wanna think about is to add the stipluation that the service department perform a major brake fluid flush in x # of months or miles after purchase at no cost or for a fee of $X.XXX. Obviously in writing. That is assuming the buyer (and dealer) will be in the same area a year or so after the purchase date. Funny how the sales department some times buckles at the knees just prior to closing a deal. The sales manager usually has a little more clout than the service manager within a dealership organization.

Just a thought.
Excellent idea bdaball the only thing wrong with that in this part of the country at least is the selling dealer is not a WH dealer and just passes the chassis responsibility onto the WH service center that had nothing to do with the sale of the coach. Now if the selling dealer wants to pick up the tab for the Service center that could be part of the deal.

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Old 12-18-2009, 12:02 PM   #12
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BMW recommends brake fluid change every 4 years. Just had mine done.
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:54 PM   #13
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BMW recommends brake fluid change every 4 years. Just had mine done.

Most brake fluid is specd at dot 3 or dot 4. Dot 3 and 4 is hygroscopic (absorbs water) and therefor after 2 years it has absorbed enough water to boil at high brake temperatures right when you need your brakes most like running down a long grade. Once the brake fluid begins to boil, that's it... no more brakes. Water is also the killer of finely machined steel parts found bathed in brake fluid like calipers, master cylinders, and brake cylinders. Water also tends to collect in the most distant places where it's difficult to remove, like in rear wheel cylinders. While gravity can drain the fluid it's use is not ideal because there is no force driviing the fluid, and along with it, water, out. That's why most shops use air pressure at the master cylinder to bleed the brakes.

Do not assume that BMW is better because it declares every 4 years a fluid change. They may spec dot 5 fluid which is not glycol based. It's a silicone based fluid and way more expensive. Silicone boils at slightly higher temperatures. Don't get any bright ideas about changing to dot 5 fluid if your system is specd at 3 or 4. They do not mix and once 5 is added to an existing dot 3 or 4 will damage the entire brake system. Although many hot rodders change a system to dot 5 there is an inherant danger in doing this. All older vehicles are speced dot 3 or 4 and say so on the labels on the master cylinder. If you pull into a gas station asking to get brake fluid they will give you what your car or rv is specd at and pour it in. Now you have mixed glycol and silicone. Not good.

There are is a tool available that sucks the fluid out of the system and while not as good as the air pressure bleed it is very good. Far better then the gravity method. For do it yourselfers out there, buy a MightyVac hand bleeding tool and use it instead of gravity to bleed your brakes.
-Paul R. Haller-
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:36 PM   #14
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Thanks Paul ....
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