Brakes are a critical system on your vehicle, yet brake fluid is one of the most neglected fluids. A quick check of the brake fluid reservoir will determine the current fluid level.
Checking Brake Fluid
Before removing the brake reservoir cap to check the condition of the brake fluid, always clean away any dirt or debris to ensure it doesn’t get into the master cylinder. Only add brake fluid that is designed for your specific vehicle. This information can be found in the owner’s manual and also may be located on the filler cap of the brake master cylinder reservoir. Adding anything other than the recommended brake fluid can damage brake components or cause brake failure.
Do not mix fluids. For example, if your vehicle has DOT 3 fluid, then add only DOT 3 fluid. If you are unsure which fluid is in your vehicle, have a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility identify the DOT fluid in your vehicle.
What Should My Brake Fluid Look Like?
The fluid should be clear to amber in color (DOT 3 and DOT 4), or have a light purple tint (DOT 5). Dark brown or black brake fluid indicates that it is time to replace the fluid.
Brake Fluid Classification
The Department of Transportation designates fluid grades as DOT 3 and DOT 4 (polyglycol), and DOT 5 (silicone). Most vehicle manufacturers recommend DOT 3 brake fluid for use in their vehicles. DOT 5 is not recommended for use in vehicles that have anti-lock braking systems.
NOTE: Do not spill brake fluid on painted surfaces.