4 Easy Steps On How to Check Your Brake Fluid
Step-By-Step Instructions for Checking Your Brake Fluid
- Locate brake master cylinder reservoir. It is usually mounted on or near firewall at rear of engine compartment, almost directly in front of where the brake pedal is mounted on other side of bulkhead. Consult vehicle's owner's manual if you're having trouble identifying it.
- Check fluid level.
- Newer vehicles: Most newer vehicles have a translucent reservoir with a clearly marked "full" line. If your vehicle has this style reservoir, you can check the fluid level without removing the screw-off cap.
- Older vehicles: Most older (early 1980s and older) vehicles have a metal reservoir with a top held on by a spring-loaded clamp. Wipe the exterior of the top clean to help prevent any debris from entering brake fluid. You'll need to pry the clamp to one side, then lift off the top to inspect the level. The "full" line should be clearly marked.
- If level is low, add brake fluid to "full" line.
IMPORTANT: A drop in brake fluid typically indicates that your brake pads have worn to the point of needing maintenance. Be sure to have your brakes checked by a professional.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE BRAKE FLUID OTHER THAN THE SPECIFIC TYPE RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR VEHICLE. Do not overfill. If your vehicle has a dual-chamber reservoir, fill both chambers to "full" line. If reservoir is extremely low or empty, it may not be safe to drive your vehicle. Consult an ASE-certified brake technician immediately.
- Replace cap/top. You're done!
WARNING: BRAKE FLUID MAY BE EXTREMELY TOXIC. WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY AFTER HANDLING. DO NOT GET IN EYES. DO NOT SPILL ON PAINT.
Signs of Low Brake Fluid
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 a service professional 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.
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.