4 Simply Ways on How to Check Brake Fluid?

Going for regular inspection and scheduled maintenance allows your vehicle to last many years. Not only will it last long, but it will also help you save expensive repair costs and provide the optimum driving experience that it’s designed to. One of the most common and essential things to do in making sure your vehicle is maintained is by ensuring the brake fluid is within the MAX line. Hence, the need to learn how to check brake fluid. Brake fluid plays an essential role in the braking system. It transfers power created when you depress the brake pedal, converting it to hydraulic power to amplify the brake force.

In this article, we’ll discuss at length how to check brake fluid Toyota Corolla and any other vehicle make and model. And answer questions like; what does the brake fluid do? Why is it important? And how to check.

How to check brake fluid step by step guide

Before checking your brake fluid, you must first locate the brake fluid reservoir in your car. So, where is my brake fluid located? The brake fluid location depends on your vehicle’s make and model. However, the brake fluid reservoir is usually on the driver’s side in the engine bay – near the firewall. It’s usually situated on the top and connected to the brake cylinder, and it’s usually a plastic canister.

When you depress the brake pedal, the brake fluid in the brake master travels down to the brake lines to all the wheels. If your brake fluid is low, air will get in and affect the braking system. Therefore, it is imperative to keep the brake fluid at the maximum gauge.

check brake fluid hot or cold

01. Clean the brake fluid reservoir:

Ensure you wipe off dirt and grime on the brake fluid reservoir cover before opening it. That way, you will prevent 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, unscrew the cap to open it, but if your car uses a metal-like reservoir, take a screwdriver and pry off the retaining clip. Do not leave brake fluid open for long – it will soak moisture to keep the brake fluid from settling in the hydraulic components and rusting them. Do not keep the fluid open for as little as 15 minutes. Air can get into the system within this time and ruin the system. So, make sure you keep the can be closed.

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,  add the vehicle’s recommended fluid, either Dot 3 or Dot 4. If the brake fluid reservoir is empty, you need to contact a dealership and bleed the brake.

04. Check the fluid color:

Brake fluid deteriorates over time. If the fluid is brown, it should be replaced by a professional mechanic. Learn more about the brake fluid color guide.

Warning: If your car is equipped with an anti-lock brake system (ABS), you need 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 them. On the other hand, most vehicles require a pumping 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 in oil or grease in your brake fluid. Brake fluid doesn’t work together with oil or grease. Letting them in will drastically damage your brake system.

You can use a brake fluid tester to check the brake fluid simply way check here for more details.

how to test brake fluid


Q: Do you check brake fluid when the car is running?

Ans: Before checking your brake fluid, it’s best to park your car on level ground and allow it to cool down before checking the fluid level.

Q: Can you just add brake fluid to your car?

Ans: Yes, if the brake fluid is far below the ‘MAX’ line, you need to carefully pry the reservoir cap and top the fluid until it gets to the ‘MAX’ line. Ensure you do not overfill it.

Q: Can I drive with low brake fluid?

Ans: 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 popped 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?

Ans: It’s necessary 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.

Q: How often should I check my brake fluid?

Ans: You should always check your brake fluid every time you pop up your hood. It’s easy to check and essential to avoid brake system 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?

Ans: If your brake fluid is brown, that’s a sign that you need a system flush, and you will need to drain the entire fluid and add a new hydraulic. But if the fluid is still okay, there’s no need to flush the old brake fluid.

Q: Is it normal for brake fluid to get low?

Ans: The brake system is sealed, so the hydraulic shouldn’t leak for any reason. Low brake fluid indicates issues in the braking system and should be taken seriously. However, some 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:

Discussing braking systems in vehicles; 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, ensuring the fluid is on the right level, and not brown is one of the best ways to keep your brakes working for long. You won’t want to get involved in a road accident due to low brake fluid.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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