Safety warning over brakes; why drivers should check
Survey highlights the risk associated with fluid failure
Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30
WHEN you read a report that claims the brakes on more than a third of all cars could fail without warning, you sit up and pay attention.
The report is compromised, without doubt, in that it was carried out for a brake-fluid company.
But despite that, it raises potentially serious questions about driver awareness and the braking capability of some cars.
Above all, it shows how important it is for motorists to have their cars regularly serviced and checked.
Of course there is a cost involved but safety has to come first.
The research tested the quality of brake fluid. It found that across Europe, 41pc of vehicles are operating with fluid that it describes as sub-standard.
As brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, its effectiveness is reduced.
That is because the more water the lower the boiling point. And the lower the boiling point the less effective the brake fluid.
As you know, water's boiling point is 100 degrees Celsius. But below 180 degree Celsius brake fluid becomes "all but useless" and could, the authors say, mean sudden and inexplicable brake failure.
Some of the vehicles in the survey had fluid that boiled at 130 degrees.
And the quality of fluid hadn't much to do with a vehicle's age or mileage. One-in-seven vehicles with potentially defective fluid had fewer than 80,000 miles on the clock.
Not surprisingly, the research found motorists knew little about how or why brake fluid operates.
Across Europe 71pc of motorists were unable to explain how it works.
The research was carried out for Cosan Lubricants' Mobil Car Care range.
Experts say that once brake fluid is contaminated, there is no way of salvaging it and there is a much greater risk it will boil.
That can happen in stop-start conditions or under heavy braking. The research even goes to far as to suggest the 'phantom' nature of brake fluid failure could be responsible for several accidents each year.