Nissan LEAF Brake Fluid Tester Might Save You From A Costly Brake Fluid Change – Video

10 months ago by Steven Loveday 34

Nissan LEAF brake fluid tester

Nissan LEAF brake fluid tester

Nissan recommends changing the brake fluid in the Nissan LEAF, on an annual basis (or every 15,000 miles). Nissan says that it has something to do with the regenerative braking system. We spoke with Nissan a few years back to clarify. At that time, it cost about $125 to have the service performed at a dealership.

Many cars, including the Chevrolet Volt, have brake fluid service intervals well over 100,000 miles. Being that Nissan feels it’s important to assure that the braking system is in tip-top shape on a yearly basis, this Nissan LEAF brake fluid tester may be the answer. This way, instead of spending the money every year – whether or not the fluid actually needs to be changed – you can play it safe, and take care of it when necessary. It works much like the paper test strips that do the same thing, but is permanent, and much less messy.

If you find that your fluid needs to be changed, and you want to have a go at it yourself, check out the video below:

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34 responses to "Nissan LEAF Brake Fluid Tester Might Save You From A Costly Brake Fluid Change – Video"

  1. acevolt says:

    It would be nice to know where they recommend buying this. I am supposed to change my Model S brake fluid every two years and would rather test it instead.

    1. ArkansasVolt says:

      this is the one from the video…

      http://amzn.to/2kvtZ5t

    2. Waiting says:

      Dealerships lose big time with EV’s. Think of all those servicing charges they lose when you don’t bring in an ICE. Could be why Nissan wants $125 to change brake fluid every year on the Leaf?????? Sorry, but that is a ridiculous thing to ask people to do. If it has to do with the regenerative braking system, then redesign the regenerative braking system.

  2. acevolt says:

    I found these on eBay for around $6. I wonder how well they really work? I bought a PH tester for my swimming pool from eBay for around $6. and it was not accurate.

  3. Loboc says:

    Why can’t they have a sensor like oil change % on a Volt?

    So much for EVs being less maintenance.

    1. Taylor S Marks says:

      Does the oil change % on a Volt actually work?

      I have a 2004 Buick with an oil change % indicator on it. All it does is start at 99 and reduce by 1 for every 100 miles driven. During an oil change (or whenever, really) you hold down the reset button and it goes back to 99.

      I used to think it was actually measuring something about the oil, until one time after an oil change it didn’t go back to 99. That was when I learned that it’s little more than a tripometer.

      Both cars come from the same company, potentially only separated by 7 years, so maybe they’re still pulling the same crap with the oil change % indicator.

      1. DJ says:

        I think it’s more than that these days but it’s not like they have any sensors in there saying you’ve got a ton of crap in your oil I’m willing to bet.

        12,500 miles seems like an awful lot to replace your brake fluid. Here I thought EVs didn’t need frequent oil changes 🙂

        1. vin says:

          You are correct, it’s a bit more than that. Typically from what I’ve read, oil life monitors are based on engine revs and operating temperature at a minimum. There are sensors for these two parameters in all of today’s engines (ICE or diesel) to control (minimize/optimize) emissions. Or in the case of a VW TDI, to cheat emissions. Every rev of an engine at a given temperature wears down the oil just a little bit, so aggregated over time the ECU can estimate how much life is left in the engine oil since the last time the oil life monitor has been reset.

          I am by no means an expert on this stuff, but that’s my understanding.

      2. Trey M says:

        Some vehicles base the oil chnage interval off of the fuel economy so it is not linear. The lower the current fuel economy, the harder you are pushng the engine, the faster the countdown goes. This is all reset at the oil change.

      3. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “Both cars come from the same company, potentially only separated by 7 years, so maybe they’re still pulling the same crap with the oil change % indicator.”

        Well, that sure set your biased views…

        The oil life meter today are usually consisted of a SW calculation that estimate the oil life based on the engine rpm, amount of time used, temperature and fuel/air mixture. Those estimate are also often on the “conservative” side.

        The more advanced version combines the SW based algorithms with an optic sensor which detect the “clarity” of the oil. The information then is included in the software above to estimate the overall oil life.

        I know that Volt uses the SW based system based on engine usage. I don’t think they use the optic sensors (if anyone knows for sure, but correct me if I am wrong). So, it is more than just a mileage thing.

        GM’s owner’s manual also recommends replacing engine oil every 2 years even if oil life is well above 0%.

        In my 5 years old Volt with 68K miles, I have only replaced the oil 2x and each time with oil life higher than 70%. But only 11K miles of that 68K miles have been with engine running… So, it isn’t surprising.

  4. Scott B. says:

    You can do this same test without that “tester”. Using any regular multimeter (even a free one from Harbor Freight). While set to read DC voltage, just dip the positive lead in the brake fluid reservoir and securely ground the negative to some bare structural metal component. Any reading over 0.3 volts indicates that there is too much water in your fluid and that it should be replaced.

    1. Kalus says:

      Useful info. Thanks Scott!

  5. Reno_Dave says:

    Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs water from the air.

    That water can cause internal rust in the braking system, but in addition, under prolonged braking, as braking friction heats the calipers and the fluid within, the water in the fluid can turn to steam, greatly decreasing the efficiency of the brakes.

    The brakes will get “spongy” as the incompressible brake fluid becomes partially filled with compressible steam. The driver will press harder on the brake pedal, but won’t generate more braking force.

    This device measures the amount of water in the brake fluid. In a desert environment, like the Southwest, the fluid might last 3 – 4 years before needing replacement, but in the humid South, it would likely absorb water more quickly.

    1. Tom Moore says:

      Thanks so much for the clear explanation! Sorry I failed to notice it before asking…

  6. Warren says:

    Drove my 1993 Nissan Sentra E, 380K+ miles. Had pads replaced several times, discs turned. Fluid replaced then, so maybe three times.

  7. vdiv says:

    Not sure that testing the moisture content in the spare brake fluid reservoir is indicative of the moisture throughout the brake system.

  8. Jonathan B says:

    The 15K recommendation is such BS! In fact the Leaf brakes (and fluid) should last longer than most ICE cars because they are used less frequently. The fluid perhaps will absorb water at the same rate as an ICE car, but the pads should easily last 100k miles. Most of the time you are using regen to slow the car. I’d guess that the 15K recommendation is related to one of two things, (1) they know that they make so little money on service on EVs that they need to nickel and dime everything. (2) Since people are so reliant on regen, they may not recognize a failing brake system as easily.

    I’ve got 42k miles on my leaf and haven’t noticed a single thing about the brakes.

  9. Nix says:

    Sadly, the quality of the metals used for the brake parts (lines, pistons, etc) will make a big difference between service intervals. Too much moisture inside the brake line will cause rust faster in lower quality metals.

    Multiple car makers have had brake line recalls due to rust, both from the inside and the outside of the lines.

    Nissan is probably hedging their bets to make sure they don’t get recalls by over specifying too many brake fluid changes. It would definitely cover their butts if this ever happened:

    NHTSA Crash Investigator: “You need to recall every Leaf you ever built. There have been 10 accidents because of failed brake lines that rusted from the inside out.”

    Nissan: “Each of those owners missed multiple scheduled brake fluid changes.”

    NHTSA: “Nevermind”

  10. Nix says:

    The title in EVAddicted’s video made me laugh (ATTN: speeling nahzi’s):

    “Nissan Leaf Brake fluid test | Break fluid tester review”

  11. Ken says:

    Per my 2015 Nissan Leaf owners manual, the brake fluild should be changed every 30,000 miles or 24 months. The 15,000 mile thing is only for Leafs in severe conditions (think towing, plowing, or off road). Please lets not start the myth thay it needs to be done every year. And btw, im just over 100,000 miles and still on original rotors, pads, and fluid. Went through plenty of tires, wipers, and washer fluid though.

    1. Rightofthepeople says:

      Just curious, do you live in a humid environment or a dry environment? I’m in Georgia and my Leaf just turned 2, and I’m trying to determine if I should have the brake fluid changed.

      1. Reno_Dave says:

        If you’re not sure, then buy one of those testers.

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    I think even the new Bolt has 5 (or 4?) year brake fluids replacement requirement.

    Brake Fluids can get acidic over time. Often I don’t have any issues by prolonging my brake fluids replacement. However, I have had 1 car (SUV) with a rusted brake lines which caused on of the rear disc caliper from releasing the brake pads. Repair shops thought it was rusted Caliper which was replaced and the brake still over heated. Then, they replaced brake line, then the problem was finally fixed…

    So, brake fluids are one of those things that should be changed at least once every 4-5 years especially if you live in a humid area just to be on the safe side.

    Of course, if you don’t intend to keep your cars for over 10 years, then maybe it isn’t so important since it will be next owner’s problem…

  13. jim stack says:

    My Nissan deal had a list of 10 things for service on our LEAF. It seemed totally made up. I never did any and had no problems.

    The battery lost capacity from HEAT so I now drive a Tesla. I’ve also has a FOCUS EV, SOUL EV and Spark EV. All never lost any battery capacity. I never was asked to change brake fluid and all were great.

  14. TM says:

    I’ve put 100,000s of miles on 3 Priuses. Never experienced a brake pad change or brake fluid swap.

    Cadillac Catera needed new brakes every 20,000 miles.

    Screw that.

    If a Nissan Leaf needs this stuff, they designed the car poorly.

  15. G2 says:

    Nissan is just throwing a bone to their dealer network.

  16. Me Martin Winlow says:

    Interesting product description for a DOT 3/4 brake fluid tester (ie the glycol-based stuff, not DOT 5 silicone) which measures what temperature a sample actually boils at. Poo-poos conductivity testing as very inaccurate (Scott!) – including the device mentioned in the article – but does let us in on the mechanics POV of the subject ie “How much money can I screw out of the motorist using this posh bit of kit?” (I have my cynic’s hat on this-morning)… http://pagid.com/news/why-test-brake-fluid/

    1. Me Martin Winlow says:

      Oh… and if you want the conductive-type tester mentioned in the article or 2 or 3 alternatives, have a look on Amazon for ‘brake fluid tester’. I couldn’t actually find a price for the posh Pagid one.

  17. JP White says:

    More frequent brake fluid change isn’t limited to the LEAF. Nissan recommend brake fluid changes for their other vehicles as well.

    For example in the 2017 Altima the brake fluid change is every 20,000 miles/24 months, whichever comes first.

    By contrast the 2007 ALtima did not have any recommended brake fluid changes.

    Nissan are recommending this for some reason. Safety is the first thought, the conspiracy angle is service revenue.

    This article implies that testing brake fluid is all that is necessary. My recommendation is follow the manufacturers schedule at all times. Would you test your engine oil and only replace it after it showed signs of being worn?

    I’ve replaced the LEAF brake fluid every 15,000 miles as recommended.

  18. cylindrical says:

    I do think it is probably most wise to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, I shan’t return to the dealership for any such servicing like a brake fluid change. My own mechanic can handle the job just fine, and for less money.

  19. JimGord says:

    Nissan has a frequent brake fluid replacement schedule on all its cars to make money. It is as simple as that. It is total BS and an even bigger scam on EVS that have regen. Get a moisture tester and check the reading and you will be fine.

  20. abc123 says:

    Change brake fluid every year? Wow.

    My 2016 Volt recommends to change the brake fluid every 5 years, no distance mentioned.
    Page 321 of 2016 owners manual

    A 2015 Volt recommends to change the fluid every 10 years or 150,000 miles.
    https://my.chevrolet.com/content/dam/gmownercenter/gmna/dynamic/manuals/2015/chevrolet/volt/2015%20Chevrolet%20Volt.pdf

    This is one of the reasons why I bought a Volt… so I don’t have to do this sh!t every year.

    I don’t think there is any reason why a Leaf needs to change brake fluid every year other than to keep their techs busy and make some money. This is bad for the environment having to needlessly go through brake fluid.

  21. Paul D says:

    The order of wheels is important, becasue you want to work from the wheel closest to the master cylinder to the wheel farthest away to assure full placement of old fluid in the lines with new fluid.

    Also, if the torque wrench is clicking without seeing any wrench motion, then you already at some tightening value _over_ 80 ft-lbs and have over-torqued the nuts! Use the torque wrench, not another wrench, to tighten any fastener to the proper torque! Note that a longer, 0-150 ft-lb range wrench is preferred for lug nuts – the one you have is more appropriate for other bolt tightening applications.