How to Check Brake Fluid

Mechanic checking brake fluid


Do you need to know how to check brake fluid? It’s a good idea to check all of your vehicle’s fluids at least once per month, and we can show you exactly how it’s done. First things first: brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that allows you to engage the full force of your brakes when you press down on the pedal. It also protects against corrosion that can impact your braking system. Without a sufficient amount of functional brake fluid, your brakes will not function properly on the roads of Carmel—so be sure to schedule service if you suspect that something is amiss!

How to Check Brake Fluid in Two Steps

  1. Locate your brake fluid reservoir. It can be found near the master cylinder beneath the hood, but you can always reference your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where to look.
  2. Find the Minimum and Maximum lines on your reservoir. If your brake fluid is below the minimum line, we recommend that you schedule service. You can also purchase new brake fluid from our parts department, but since opening the reservoir can cause your brake fluid to pull in moisture from the air, you might cause your fluid to expire early.

Although you should avoid opening the reservoir when you can, you might occasionally rub a little bit between your fingers—gritty brake oil needs to be changed completely. It’s also a good idea to check the color of your brake fluid, and we’ll show you what to look for a little further on.

What Color is Brake Fluid Supposed to Be?

What color is brake fluid supposed to be? When new, brake fluid might look clear with a yellowish tint, or it might be closer to a honey-like shade of yellow-brown. As it ages, brake fluid will darken and start to look more like oil.

What Kind of Brake Fluid Does Your Vehicle Need?

Brake fluid is common based on a glycol-ether compound, but silicone-based and mineral-based brake fluids are also available. Most modern vehicles use either DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid, and the two are incompatible. You certainly don’t want to use the wrong brake fluid or mix two types of brake fluid together, so contact our team or reference your owner’s manual if you’re not sure what kind of fluid to use.

When Should You Change Your Brake Fluid?

It’s important to have your brake fluid flushed and replaced completely according to the schedule laid out in your owner’s manual—even if it doesn’t look low, dirty, or old. Most vehicles have a brake fluid replacement interval of two to four years.

Why is it so important to change brake fluid on schedule? The following factors all play a role:

  • Brake fluid attracts moisture to protect your brakes, but if it takes on too much moisture, it can damage your seals, lines, and calipers. This is the main reason why brake fluid needs to be changed on a regular basis.
  • Brake fluid exists in a sealed system, but many fluids can become contaminated with debris over time, and brake fluid is no exception.

Protect Your Brakes with Penske Chevrolet

If you’re in need of brake service, take advantage of our parts and service specials! We’re easy to reach from anywhere near Noblesville or Westfield, and we’re here to help with anything you need.

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