Checking your Car’s Brake Fluid

Published: 01/26/2011 by AutoShopit

Checking your Car’s Brake Fluid

Checking your Car’s Brake Fluid


One of the most important parts of any car is the brakes. If your brakes were to fail, you will be unable to stop quickly and could put pedestrians, other car users and the passengers in your car at risk. It is not a difficult task to keep your brake system in top condition. You can start by checking your car’s brake fluid levels on a regular basis and before any long trips.

Try to get into the habit of performing this check at the same time as you check the other fluid levels in your car. This way you can be certain that you are not going to run out of the vital fluids in the middle of your next long journey. Ideally, a brake fluid service should take place every month.

Locate your Brake Master Cylinder

The brake master cylinder is the reservoir where brake fluid is stored in your car. On the majority of modern cars, this is located under the hood on the left hand side towards the back of the engine. It is a metal rectangle with a clear plastic reservoir above it and a rubber cap and some small metal leads leading off it. If you are struggling to find it, refer to your owner’s manual which will show you the correct location.

If your car was made before about 1980 the reservoir will be made from metal and you will need to take off the lid to check the fluid levels. The lid will often be held in place with a clamp that can usually be removed with the aid of a screwdriver.

Check the Brake Fluid Levels

On most modern cars, the brake fluid reservoir will be a translucent plastic container that has a line on it marked “Full” or “Max”. The rubber cap above it might also recommend the type of brake fluid to use in your car. If the level is low then you can fill it up to the line with the aid of a funnel to ensure you do not spill anything.

Brake fluid is a very poisonous liquid, and you should keep it in a sealed container and store it well away from children and animals. If you can, wear gloves while you are handling it and try not to spill any onto your car as it can corrode the paint. Once you have finished, make sure you wash your hands well.

Empty Reservoir

If you have not checked the reservoir for a while and it empties, you might notice this when your brake pedal goes right down to the floor when you try to stop your car. In this case you will also need to bleed your brakes to remove any air bubbles when you refill the brake fluid. At this point, you will need to seek assistance from a trained mechanic who can perform a full brake fluid service for you before you drive the car again.

Checking your car’s brake fluid levels is an important check that you should perform on a regular basis and especially before a long journey. It can be dangerous if your brakes fail, and this simple check could prevent an avoidable accident.

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