Ask The Editors: Brake Maintenance Lazy Style

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Do they really need that much attention?

Dear ATVC: I was told I should drain and replace the brake fluid in my Suzuki LT300. Is this really necessary if I’ve bled the brakes regularly and made sure the fluid is topped off at the start of each season?

This is actually a good question because we all so often tend to overlook maintenance of those areas of our machines that seem to be functioning just fine. In all honesty this isn’t one of those “don’t ride it until you’ve performed the maintenance” kind of things but it is probably a good idea. Here’s why:

Most brake fluids used by an ATV are hydrophilic; meaning their molecules are attracted to water. Unless you operate your machine in the vacuum of space, from the moment that container was initially opened and every minute since, the fluid has been literally pulling moisture from the atmosphere and collecting it (hygroscopic).

Over time this water content adds up. At first it does little more than weaken the effectiveness of the brake fluid pressure, usually not to the point of a noticeable change in braking feel. However, and more importantly, this water can start to corrode the multitude of metal parts within the brake system (brake fittings, the calipers etc.)

These are areas we don’t want to risk failing while out on the trails. Oftentimes, even when they don’t rust through to the point of failure, we discover this damage when the time comes to remove the brakes. Since a bottle of brake fluid is significantly cheaper than replacing calipers and brake lines, changing this fluid is a simple but effective preventative measure.

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