Your vehicle shouldn’t lose brake fluid in normal operation. The level drops only slightly with wear of brakes. So if the level is down, there’s a chance there’s a leak somewhere. Consult one of our ASE Certified technicians immediately to have it addressed and avoid possible dangerous reduction in brake performance. Also, your vehicle takes a specific type of brake fluid; typically (but not always), DOT3 or DOT4. In newer vehicles, it will often say right on the brake fluid reservoir cap. If not, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Brakes are a critical system on your vehicle, yet the brake fluid is often neglected. Cars today use polyglycol-based brake fluid identified by the Department of Transportation as either DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid. Silicone-based DOT 5 brake fluid is also available, but used primarily in older collector cars and certain military/industrial applications. DOT 5 fluid is not recommended for modern vehicles with antilock braking systems.

Checking Brake Fluid Level
Brake fluid should be checked for level and condition. Modern brake systems have translucent plastic fluid reservoirs with molded-in MAX and MIN (or similar) markings that make it easy to visually check the fluid level. As long as the level is between the two marks, there is no need to top it up. A fluid level below the MIN marking indicates worn brakes or a leak in the system; take the vehicle to a repair facility as soon as possible for further diagnosis.

Checking Brake Fluid Condition
Brake fluid deteriorates over time from contaminants generated in the system and by absorbing moisture from the air, which lowers the fluid’s boiling point. Color is one indicator of brake fluid condition. DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids should be clear to amber, while DOT 5 silicone fluids usually have a light purple tint. Any fluid that is dark brown or black should be replaced. Brake fluid test strips, available at most auto parts stores, can also be used to test the fluid condition. Before removing the brake reservoir cap to use a test strip or add fluid, always clean away any dirt or debris to ensure it doesn’t get into the master cylinder.

CAUTION: DO NOT USE BRAKE FLUID OTHER THAN THE SPECIFIC TYPE RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR VEHICLE.

Note: These instructions are intended as general guidelines. Please consult your owner’s or service manual for specific instructions on changing the oil and filter on your vehicle. Use extreme caution when lifting or jacking any vehicle.