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i know a decent amount about cars, put on my own brakes (never did calipers /fluid etc though) , radiators, water pumps etc

my mom has a 95 camry and she's at a local garage and i do know she needs brakes and rotors because of the vibration. but she just called and said that her brake lite is on and they want to do a brake flush.

of course she's smart enough to call me and ask. i said you dont need a flush. if you need fluid they should add fluid. i heard the girl in the backround then back off and say you dont need the flush

so is this one of those upsell things they try to get uninformed consumers to do? or on a 20 yr old car should this have been done? i always assumed the brake system is closed and never needed changing.
 

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Actually the brake fluid should be changed at some point. It's prone to absorbing water and that will lower it's boiling point and may start to cause rust and pitting on the inside of the calipers, in the piston bore and start to attack some parts of the steel brake lines.

Some vehicle manufacturers say 3 years some say every 50,000 miles etc. Not sure what they were going to charge her to do it, but after 20 yrs I would say it's about time to get some new stuff in there. There are a number of videos on you tube as how to do and it's really not all that difficult as long as you can get all the bleeders open without breaking any off and you don't allow any air into the system through the master cylinder ( keep new fluid in it while bleeding).

But to answer your question
Yes
You should change out your brake fluid every so often, and definitely before 20 years.

Edit

There is actually a water content test for brake fluid.
Pretty sure you could get it done at Autozon or OReillys or Napa
But
If you want to do it yourself you can buy one.

Amazon.com: Brake Fluid Tester - calibrated for DOT 4 brake fluids: Automotive
 
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i know a decent amount about cars, put on my own brakes (never did calipers /fluid etc though) , radiators, water pumps etc

my mom has a 95 camry and she's at a local garage and i do know she needs brakes and rotors because of the vibration. but she just called and said that her brake lite is on and they want to do a brake flush.

of course she's smart enough to call me and ask. i said you dont need a flush. if you need fluid they should add fluid. i heard the girl in the backround then back off and say you dont need the flush

so is this one of those upsell things they try to get uninformed consumers to do? or on a 20 yr old car should this have been done? i always assumed the brake system is closed and never needed changing.


Different manufacturers recommend changing the brake fluid at various intervals - some have no mention of it in the owner's manual service schedule.

I have always had the brake fluid changed in my cars after they are 5-6 years old. Brake fluid is hydroscopic and absorbs moisture from the air. On newer vehicles with antilock braking systems, a special tool is needed to activate the ABS servo when changing brake fluid - to ensure all old fluid and air is removed from the system.

It is probably too late now - but the charge and effort to change the brake fluid while the wheels / tires / brakes / rotors are removed is probably negligible. What did the shop want to charge for a brake fluid change? The last time I had a dealer (that I trusted) change the brake fluid in my Corvette, it was $89 + tax.
 

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Actually you can do a fluid change without needing to cycle the ABS module if you draw new fluid through the system using the wheel location procedure as listed in the FSM or wherever you can find it on line etc. .
EG./ start at RR then LF then LR then RF or like that.
Some vehicles have different places to start but if you do it that way, and not let the master run out of fluid and get any air 'upstream" of the ABS module there is no need to cycle it.
Takes a bit longer to do but is not all that difficult.
 
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