Properly Servicing the Brake System

At the prescribed intervals is vital to the safe operation of your vehicle. Here is a brief description of the routine maintenance that is so essential in ensuring full brake system efficiency.

  • Checking and Changing Brake Fluid – Maintain brake fluid 15 to 20 mm (about ¾ in.) below the top of the reservoir (just above the seam near the top of the reservoir). Use brake fluid that meets SAE recommendation and conforms to Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Change brake fluid every two years.
  • Checking Brake Pedal Travel and Freeplay – It should be possible to depress the brake pedal for a distance of 5 to 7 mm (3/16 to 9/32 in.) before encountering resistance. If you find that the freeplay is outside of this range, the pushrod clearance may need adjustment.If the pedal must be depressed an excessive distance to obtain braking action, the drum brakes may require adjustment.
  • Checking Brake Linings – On 1970 through 1974 models, at the 6,000-mile maintenance check brake lining wear… On 1975 and later cars, brake lining wear is checked as part of 15,000 mile. Disc brake pads should not be worn to a remaining thickness of less than 2.00 mm (.080 in.). Drum brake lining should have at least 2.5 mm (3/32 in.) of friction material left above the brake shoe. Check lining thickness through holes in the backing plate.
  • Checking Parking Brake Adjustment – After adjusting the rear brakes, you should not be able to raise the parking brake lever more than five clicks without obtaining noticeable braking action. If the lever requires more than five clicks to obtain braking, adjust may be necessary.
  • Check Brake System for Leaks – If the fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir is noticeably low, carefully check the brake system for leaks. Check the lines, hoses, unions, and bleeder valves. Removal of the brake drums may be necessary to in order to inspect the wheel cylinders. On some models, the rear brake calipers may need inspection.
  • Checking Brake Lines and Hoses – Potential problems include brake lines deeply pitted by corrosion, flattened due to bending, or dented by flying stones. These conditions may soon lead to leaks or may already be interfering with uniform braking action. The brake hoses must not be soft swollen, or coated with grease and oil. Replace any brake hose that has breaks in the fabric outer cover.
  • Checking Brake Light Operation – The rear brake light should come on as soon as the brake pedal encounters resistance when depressed.
  • Check Brake Light Warning Switch – Check the brake warning light system every two years while changing the brake fluid.