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A Small Guide to Brake Fluid

November 17, 2021
A Small Guide To Brake Fluid

A Small Guide to Brake Fluid

Is the low brake fluid light on again? Brake fluid is a crucial part of your vehicle’s operation and brake fluid is required to bring the car to a stop when the brakes are activated. If your low brake fluid light is on then what should you do and is it a cause for concern?

Brake fluid and its types

Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid, which is typically made up of glycol or silicone. It builds up the pressure required to decelerate the car and bring it to a complete stop. The brake fluid comes in three main forms:

  1. DOT 3
  2. DOT 4
  3. DOT 5

Features of DOT3

  • Common
  • High-performance hydraulic brake fluid
  • Used in a disc, drum, and anti-skid braking systems
  • Boiling point: 401 degrees Fahrenheit

Features of DOT 4

  • Boiling point: 446 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Commonly used in European cars

Features of DOT 5

  • Silicone-based brake fluid
  • Boiling point: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Not recommended for vehicles that are equipped with ABS

What Does Low Brake Fluid Mean?

When your car doesn’t have enough brake fluid, the warning light on the dashboard starts to either glow or flash with a combination of lights, depending on the type of car you own.

It’s a warning sign that your car’s fluid reservoir is running low (or even empty). It reduces the braking force and you’re unable to stop the car.

Other warning signs include:

  • Soft or spongy brake pedals
  • Worn brake pads
  • Noisy brakes
  • Discolored or dirty brake fluid

Does Brake Fluid Just Run Out?

Brake fluid is not consumed and neither does it evaporate so if you are losing brake fluid quickly then there is a reason for it. Low brake fluid can be caused by leakage due to damaged brake lines, worn seals, loose bleeder valves, or damaged ABS modules.

Brake fluid levels and how to check them

Let’s look at some common questions related to low brake fluid.

Q: If the brake fluid level is low can I just add more?

If it’s been a long time since the last time you added brake fluid to the reservoir, just simply refill it enough to get the low brake fluid warning light to turn off. In the case of dirty brake fluid, it must be replaced by fresh brake fluid.

Q: How do I check my brake fluid levels?

Consider the following points while checking your brake fluid levels.

  • Assess the amount of fluid present in the reservoir.
  • Under the hood on the master cylinder, a reservoir is present. Locate the maximum and minimum line on it. If the fluid is at the minimum line, it’s time to top up on the brake fluid.
  • Get it checked by a professional.

Q: How long should brake fluid last?

It depends on the environment and the type of brake fluid. Depending on the driving habits, it can last for about two years or a bit longer. By using brake fluid packaged with nitrogen, moisture contamination is prevented.

Q: Can low brake oil cause the car to stall?

No, low brake oil will not cause the car to stall but I can cause the car to slow down as the ABS may be activated at uncertain times. It can also be harder to push the brake pedal, making it significantly less safe as you have less control of your car.

Pro tip: Never Ignore Low Brake Fluid Issues

The problem with the braking system is indicated by the regular flashing of your low brake light. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore it:

  • When low brake fluid puts extra stress on calipers and pads, there is a chance of serious leaks.
  • If you operate a vehicle without properly functioning brakes, the chances of accidents increase.


To avoid bigger problems, minor problems must be checked by professionals regularly.

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