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The main characteristic of a brake fluid is its extremely low compressibility coefficient and notable resistance to high temperatures (boiling point), preventing any great variation in its volume given the high working temperatures that it can reach during the braking phases.
These temperatures depend on the continuity and intensity of the braking action; in fact the liquid has a working temperature range from about -40C° to well over 200°C so the higher the boiling point, the better the characteristic of the liquid.
As a result of its characteristics, brake fluid easily absorbs moisture. This leads immediately to a reduction in its performance to the point where it becomes completely inefficient. Owing precisely to its hygroscopicity (i.e. the tendency to absorb moisture from the air), the brake fluid deteriorates over time and loses the above-mentioned characteristics, developing a tendency to produce water vapour bubbles as the temperature increases (the “Vapour Lock” effect, whereby vapour bubbles develop). This gradually lengthens the action of the brake lever once it has warmed up.
The chart shows the deterioration of the various brake fluids on the basis of the moisture absorbed. You can see that the deterioration of the brake fluid characteristics is immediate, even in the case of just a small percentage of water. It’s therefore a good idea to keep it under control, replacing it when necessary.
For this reason, the brake fluid must have certain specific characteristics:
° be as incompressible as possible
° have a high boiling point
° have low viscosity
° be chemically stable
° be chemically inert in relation to gaskets
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