My 2008 smart just turned 15K miles so I'm looking at the maintenance schedule and I see where Smart recommends you change the brake fluid every 20K miles. This seems excessive to me. Is this something that I could do myself? Would anyone have instructions or a guide as to how to do this?
What is the down side if I don't perform this fluid change but say every 50K miles?
Thanks,
Jeff from Concord, N.C.

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I see that you reside in a humid climate. Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time which can damage the internal parts of the brake hydraulic system. It is generally recommended that you flush out all the old brake fluid and replace it with fresh new fluid every two years. To do this properly, a fluid flush system that is vacuum or pressure activated is required. This process can be performed quickly with this type of equipment. This task can be performed at home, but it is messy and you risk turning on the ABS warning light or have air entrapped in the system, which will probably result in a trip to the dealer. If you want to check you brake fluid for moisture, you can buy litmus paper strips at a professional autoparts store and just dip the test strip into you brake fluid and read the results. In conclusion, I would suggest having the old fluid flushed out of your system and replenished with clean fresh brake fluid.
This is more of a time based issue than miles. The recommended service is based on 10K a year.

Do it at 2 years, regardless of the miles. I did mine at 45000 miles and just under 2 years because I was in for something else.
How many others cars have we owned where we change the brake fluid at 20K miles. Maybe every 4 or 5 years but 20K miles is 2 to 3 years for most people. I know smart recommends it, but....
~Its about Safety & Liabilty of the manufacturer~
~Some Brake Fluid Info~Dot 4 for the Smart~If you have not been shown how to change it, do not change it yourself~
Brake fluid is a fluid that is usually neglected. The only time it is changed is when the brakes are relined (if then!). But it should be changed more often because brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture over time. After two or more years of service, it can become badly contaminated with moisture. This lowers its boiling point up to 25% (which may contribute to pedal fade if the brakes overheat). It also promotes internal rust and corrosion that can damage calipers, wheel cylinders and antilock brake system components. Though most domestic vehicle manufacturers have no requirements for changing the fluid, European vehicle manufacturers as well as many brake experts say changing the fluid every two to three years for preventive maintenance can greatly prolong the life of the hydraulic components in the brake system and improve safety.

Changes aside, the fluid level should be checked periodically to make sure it is not low. The fluid level in the master cylinder will gradually drop as the brake linings wear, but a sudden drop usually means a leak and a possible loss of hydraulic pressure.

Make sure you use the correct type. European cars require higher temperature DOT 4 fluid.
I just bought a 2009 Smart Cabriolet with 3,000 miles. I noticed the brake pedal seems to travel maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the way to the floor before the brakes engage. I checked and my brake fluid is at normal level in the master cylinder. Is this much brake travel normal for Smart cars? American cars usually engage as soon as you touch the brake pedal. Just wondering. Thanks in advance for any feedback or advice.
Smart Brakes are electric actuated, and the brake action is the nature of the Smart Beast... You will have to adapt...<:-((

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