How to Check Brake Fluid – 4 Simple Steps

If you want your vehicle to serve you for a long time, make regular inspection and scheduled maintenance a culture. This will help you save on expensive repair costs and provide an optimum driving experience.

One essential thing to do in making sure your vehicle is in good shape is to ensure the brake fluid is within the MAX line. Therefore, you need to understand how to check brake fluid. Brake fluid plays a vital role in the braking system.

It transfers power created when you depress the brake pedal, converting it to hydraulic power which later amplifies the brake force. In this article, we shall discuss how to check brake fluid Toyota Corolla and other vehicle makes and models.

How to check brake fluid step by step guide

The first thing to do when you want to check the level of brake fluid or check brake fluid hot or cold is to locate the brake fluid reservoir in your car. The question now is where is my brake fluid located? The location of the brake fluid reservoir depends on your vehicle’s make and model. 

However, in most cases, the brake fluid reservoir is on the driver’s side in the engine bay, near the firewall. It is usually a plastic canister situated on the top and connected to the brake cylinder.

When you depress the brake pedal, the brake fluid in the brake master travels down to the brake lines then to all the wheels. When the brake fluid is low, the air gets in and affects the braking system. It is therefore imperative to keep the brake fluid at the maximum gauge. Here are the steps to follow when checking the brake fluid:

check brake fluid hot or cold

01. Clean the Brake Fluid Reservoir:

Wipe off dirt and grime on the brake fluid reservoir cover before opening it. This prevents dirt and debris from falling inside, which could damage the internal seals and eventually cause the brake system to fail.

02. Open The Reservoir Cap:

If your car uses a plastic brake fluid reservoir, open it by unscrewing the cap. If the car uses a metal-like reservoir, take a screwdriver and pry off the retaining clip. Do not leave brake fluid open for long for it might soak moisture.

The moisture prevents the brake fluid from settling in the hydraulic components causing them to rust. The fluid should not remain open for more than 15 minutes.

03. Check The Fluid Level:

Ensure the brake fluid is near or on the ‘MAX’ level. If it’s close or below the ‘MIN’ level then you need to learn how to add brake fluid. The type of brake fluid you use will depend on your type of vehicle.

The most recommended brake fluid to use is either Dot 3 or Dot 4. If the brake fluid reservoir is empty, you need to fill it up with the right brake fluid or get a professional to do it for you.

04. Check the Fluid Color:

Brake fluid works for some time and then it starts deteriorating. After a while of usage, the brake fluid starts to lose its moisture resistance. It starts absorbing little amounts of moisture which leads to corrosion of components and reduces brake performance.  

When learning how to check brake fluid ford fusion, you also need to check the fluid color. This will guide you on whether the fluid needs to be changed. If the fluid is brown, it needs to be changed.

If you know how to change brake fluid then you can comfortably do this at home. If not, you need to take the vehicle to a mechanic for brake fluid bleeding. Learn more about the brake fluid color guide.

Warning: If your car is equipped with an anti-lock brake system (ABS), you are advised to visit your owner’s booklet before inspecting the fluid level. Some vehicle’s ABS requires you to depress the brake pedal 25 – 30 times before opening and inspecting. On the other hand, most vehicles require pumping the brakes after adding brake fluid.

Few Things to Keep In Mind When Checking Brake Fluid

Avoid spilling brake fluid on any painted areas. If the brake fluid spills on any painted surface, wash it off with water and wipe it with a clean rag.

Avoid letting oil or grease in your brake fluid. Brake fluid does not work together with oil or grease. Letting them in will damage your brake system severely.

One may ask how to check brake fluid Toyota Camry with a brake fluid tester. Watch this video to get details on how to use a brake fluid tester on your Toyota vehicle or any other model.

how to test brake fluid

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Do You Check Brake Fluid When The Car Is Running?

The questions of whether to check brake fluids hot or cold confuse people since some fluids are checked when hot while others need the vehicle to cool down. Vehicle coolant and brake fluid are best checked when cold for accuracy and security reasons. Park your car on level ground and allow the engine to cool down before checking the brake fluid level.

Q: Can You Just Add Brake Fluid To Your Car?

Before adding brake fluid in the vehicle, the prudent thing to do would to first check the level and color of the brake fluid. If the brake fluid is far below the ‘MAX’ line, top up the fluid until it gets to the ‘MAX’ line. Be careful not to overfill. If the brake fluid color has changed to brown, the right thing to do is bleed the brake fluid before you add the new one.

Q: Can I Drive With Low Brake Fluid?

Driving with low brake fluid is dangerous, and you should avoid it at all costs. Low-level brake fluid and worn brake pads are why the brake light on your dashboard pops up. Low brake fluid can be a sign of a worn brake pad. So, always inspect your brake pads and brake shoes whenever your brake fluid goes below the ‘MAX’ line.

Q: Do You Pump Brakes After Adding Brake Fluid?

Pumping the brakes before or after adding brake fluid will depend on the type of vehicle. In most cases, you are required to pump the brake after adding brake fluid, especially if you have a soft brake pedal.

Air can get into the brake system when depressing the brake pedal with low fluid. However, some vehicle using ABS requires you to depress the brake pedal 25 – 30 times before adding the brake fluid.

Q: How Often Should I Check My Brake Fluid?

The most advisable thing to do is to check your brake fluids during your regular oil changes. The process is easy and it will save you from having risky brake issues. Most cars have a plastic reservoir that you can see the fluid level without taking off the cover. If you can’t see the fluid level through the plastic reservoir, then you have to remove the cover.

Q: Can I Mix Old and New Brake Fluid?

It is not recommendable to mix old and new brake fluid. Brake fluids are prone to absorbing water which makes them lose their effectiveness as time passes. This can cause corrosion of hydraulic components and other problems which reduce the performance of the brake. If the brake fluid has turned brown, it needs to be removed entirely and replaced with new brake fluid.

Q: Is It Normal for Brake Fluid to Get Low?

The brake system is sealed, so the hydraulic should not leak for any reason. Low brake fluid indicates issues in the braking system and should be taken seriously. However, some low brake fluid is normal while some indicate leaks, worn-out brake shoes, worn-out brake pads, or faulty cylinders.

How to Check Your Car’s Brake Fluid YouTube

Final word:

Nothing is more frightening to a driver than cruising at high speed and finding out the brake system is not responding correctly. Knowing how to check brake fluid is one of the best ways to keep your brakes working for long. This helps you to ensure the fluid is on the right level and right color.

The process of checking brake fluid is easy and should be done regularly. At least make sure you have has the brake fluid checked every time you do an oil change. Brake fluids can last up to four or five years before changing depending on how often you use the vehicle, the climate, and other factors.

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.

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