How Long can you Drive Without Brake Fluid?

Your vehicle utilizes several fluids for optimal vehicle performance, one of which is the brake fluid. The brake fluid helps provide the stopping power needed to stop your car. When you hit the gas pedal, the fluid helps convert the force from the depressed pedal into pressure. 

As the pressure increases, it travels through the brake lines to your calipers. The caliper pushes the brake pads against the rotors, applying friction to the wheels and causing them to stop. This fluid, however, can get low or empty, invariably begging the question.  How long can you drive without brake fluid?

how long can you drive without brake fluid reddit

Can you drive without brake fluid?

Typically, you can drive without brake fluid. The brake fluid is not responsible for starting or driving the car. But how long can you drive without brake fluid in a car?

You can drive without brake fluid for as long as your car is still in motion and you’re not ready to slow down or stop.

See that driving isn’t the issue? What you should be worried about is stopping your car.

Driving without brake fluid is inviting accidents on purpose because your car won’t generate the pressure needed to stop your car. This not only endangers your life and everyone in the vehicle but also the lives of other road users.

So, while you can drive when the brake fluid is out, you shouldn’t attempt driving until it is filled.

Consequences of no brake fluid in reservoir

Since the brake fluid plays a crucial role in stopping your car, driving without it definitely impacts the brakes. But what exactly happens when you drive a car without brake fluid? You might experience complete brake failure. This can lead to a crash that can result in the loss of lives and properties.

Aside from getting into a crash, the illumination of the low brake fluid warning light, which are common signs of no brake fluid in the car, can make you apprehensive and tense. This can kill you even before an accident occurs.

signs of no brake fluid

Causes of low brake fluid

If you’re having difficulty stopping your car, chances are your brake fluid is low. Here are reasons your brake fluid decreased.


Leaks can occur due to wear or tear in one or more braking system components. Here, you would see a puddle of fluid under your car by the wheel, which is also a sign of low brake fluid in car. Because the more fluid you see, the less you have in the brake fluid reservoir.

However, you need to be sure what fluid you’re seeing. If the fluid is slightly brownish or blue with a slick viscosity like that of vegetable oil, then what you have is brake fluid. Search for possible causes of leaks and fix them so your braking system can work efficiently.

Broken or worn brake lines

The brake lines with fluid inside help transfer pressure generated by the driver to the wheels to help stop your car. The master cylinder houses the brake fluid and helps transfer it from here to the brake calipers through the brake line.

When the brake line gets damaged, fluid cannot get through to the calipers and instead ends up in the brake booster. This not only causes a decrease in the fluid level but also impacts your brakes.

In this case, there will be no visible leaks. So, if you notice your brake fluid is getting low without puddles on the floor, you may want to check your brake lines.

Damaged brake pads

The brake pads help provide the friction to help slow or stop your car when pushed against the rotors. When they go bad, it results in pushing and storing more fluid in the brake calipers. The more fluid stored here, the less in the master cylinder.

This is also an internal leak, so you won’t see puddles underneath your car. For internal leaks, make sure you find and eliminate the culprit, as just topping will solve the issue. I hope this answers those asking: fluid low, can I just add more?

How far can you drive a car with low brake fluid?

You can drive several distances if the remaining fluid is sufficient to apply supply pressure to the brakes. But driving with low fluid is as dangerous as driving with no fluid.

You can’t predict how your braking system works. Aside from having a hard stop, It can make your braking system suddenly lose its functionality totally mid-way, putting you and other road users at risk.

Importance of maintaining brake fluids level

Maintaining brake fluid levels makes driving seamless and puts your mind at rest. The following are reasons your fluid should be at the correct levels.

brake fluid low but no leak

Easy stop

Low fluid level causes a drastic decrease in a car’s stopping power or braking response. However, with the correct level, brake sensitivity increases, and stopping times become stable.

Know the condition of your fluid.

Brake fluid, over time, absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, which can cause degradation and corrosion over time. However, if you regularly check the level, you might quickly know when your fluid is contaminated and needs a replacement.

Keeps the brake line clean

When brake fluid dries out and enough fluid doesn’t go through the lines, the lines suck in dirt or air instead. Having fluid in the right amount ensures no other bodies go through the lines except the fluid.

Less stress on the driver

Having brake fluid at the right level allows the fluid to supply just the right amount of hydraulic pressure needed to stop your car.  However, when it is low, your pedal feels spongy and harder to press, making you put too much energy when stopping. With an appropriate fluid level, you won’t have to exert too much energy trying to stop the car.

Rid of those annoying lights

When the fluid level is low, the car’s computer alerts you by turning on the brake light and low brake fluid warning light. Seeing this light alone can make anyone tense. You can reduce this tension by ensuring your fluid level is at the right spot.

Final words

This article has answered the question,  how long can you drive without brake fluid? You can go without brake fluid as long as there is no need to slow or stop your car. This can be minutes or even seconds. So what happens when it’s time to stop?

Therefore, before you take that journey with low or no brake fluid, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk. If you noticed anything with your braking system, it could be you’re low on brake fluid. But don’t just top it without knowing why it is low. Moreover, it could be other brake components.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

2 thoughts on “How Long can you Drive Without Brake Fluid?

  1. Hy
    We’re thrilled to hear you found the information awesome! It’s essential for drivers to understand the risks associated with low brake fluid levels. Driving without adequate brake fluid can lead to brake failure, which is dangerous. The how long can you drive without brake fluid depends on various factors, but Rx Mechanic do not recommended to drive even a short distance once the issue is detected. It’s best to address this immediately to ensure your safety and the longevity of your vehicle’s braking system. Keep following us for more essential car maintenance tips and stay safe on the roads!

    Rx Mechanic Team

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