Silicon implants and difficult access

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Rob Marshall

The readers’ letters pages of GEM Motoring Assist’s member magazine, Good Motoring, always throws up interesting views and opinions. Clive Coston penned a note in the most recent issue, expressing concern that the fluid, within this car’s braking system, requires changing every two years. The main reason is that the old fluid (DOT4) absorbs moisture with time, thus lowering its boiling point and affecting the braking efficiency of the car.

“Surely it is not beyond the technical wizards of the automotive world to come up with a new type of brake fluid that does not need changing?” he wrote. “Cynically, I think that I know the answer. All the extra brake fluid keeps the money rolling in.”

Obviously, Clive was unaware of synthetic brake fluid (DOT5), which does not absorb water at all and is not prone to act like an effective stripper, should it be spilled accidentally onto paintwork. However, there are some disadvantages with synthetic fluid, in that it does not mix well with conventional brake fluid and some technicians recommend that the entire braking system is stripped down and all the rubber seals and hoses replaced at the same time. A more serious problem is that the fluid is slightly compressible, which results in a more spongy action at the pedal. It is also not as effective at lubricating the system as DOT4 brake fluid. For these reasons, silicone brake fluid might inhibit the ABS control module from operating efficiently.

Even so, Clive was advised correctly by his garage that brake fluid should be changed bi-annually, for the system to remain at its peak performance. No matter what car manufacturers might say, no automotive lubricant or fluid can retain maximum efficiency for evermore. Considering the vital role that brake fluid has to play, I consider the cost of changing it periodically to be well worth it.

Another letter that came through was from Richard Hurrell, a friend of whose was stopped by the gendarme on a French AutoRoute for having a blown tail-light. Despite carrying the obligatory spare bulb kit with him, the driver could not change the bulb on his four year-old car at the roadside, because special tools were needed that meant the operation could only be done by a dealer. Naturally, this caused frustration and Richard asked GEM how many models of car are like this?

The answer is loads and the situation is getting worse. My last car was a decrepit but extremely reliable Citroën BX. To change the headlight bulb, one could open the bonnet, grasp and pull the entire headlamp out, unclip the bulb, refit it and replace the headlamp by locating it onto its quick-fit connectors and giving it a sharp blow in its four corners with the palm of the hand to relocate it. No special tools were required.

Silicon implants and difficult access

Now I have ‘progressed’ to a four year-old Citroën for my everyday transport, the front bumper has to be removed, before the headlight’s retaining bolts can even be accessed. Call that progress? I think not.

So, do you know of any minor jobs on the latest models that are made almost impossibly difficult? Comment below – I’d love to hear what drives you mad!