Research reveals brake fluid danger

Independent workshops could be missing out on thousands of pounds worth of profit margin, according to a new report that reveals that the brakes on a quarter of all cars in the UK could fail at any time.

Research conducted for Cosan Lubricants’ Comma brand, tested the quality of brake fluid at service garages across Europe and found that 26.5 per cent of UK motorists had defective brake fluid, with nearly one in 10 unintentionally risking their lives every time they drove. Overall across Europe, that figure rose to 41 per cent of vehicles operating with sub-standard brake fluid.

While the poor quality of brake fluid in the nation’s cars was alarming, the study also revealed a worrying lack of understanding among motorists about how brake fluid functions – three quarters had no idea, offering workshops the chance to build trust and educate their customers.

Researchers found that the age and mileage of a vehicle is not necessarily linked to the quality of its brake fluid. One in seven vehicles with less than 80,000 miles on the clock had fluid showing a boiling point of less than 200°C. Meanwhile, 75 per cent of workshop customers either admitted that they don’t know how brake fluid works, or gave an inadequate account when questioned. More than a third (34 per cent) had not changed their brake fluid for over two years.

The rest of Europe is not much better, with a total of 71 per cent of motorists quizzed unable to explain how brake fluid works.

“Unfortunately, once brake fluid is contaminated, there’s no going back and there is a much greater risk that it will boil,” he said. “This can happen in stop-start conditions or under heavy braking, and the risk increases significantly in vehicles that are towing something. It’s an elusive problem and very difficult to diagnose because, after an accident and once the fluid has cooled again, it will appear to be normal.”

Bewsey said: “Routine testing of the boiling point temperature is the only fail-safe way to check the quality of brake fluid. Workshops with the foresight to offer quality testing will unlock not only an additional revenue stream and upselling opportunity, but will also be more likely to win the on-going trust and loyalty of their customers.”

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