Car brake fluid is a liquid used in the brake system of motorized vehicles to optimize braking performance. The main function of brake fluid is to convert the pressure generated by operating the brake pedal into effective braking force on components of the brake system, such as brake calipers or brake cylinders. Check out the following TransTRACK article for more!
Brake Fluid Function
Car brake fluid, although often neglected, has a very important role in maintaining optimal performance of the braking system. The right quality and quantity of brake fluid can make the difference between effective braking and a high risk of an accident. Here are some of the main functions of brake fluid:
Brake fluid works as a transmission of pressure from the brake pedal to the braking components. When you step on the brake pedal, pressure is generated in the hydraulic system by the brake master cylinder. This brake fluid transmits that pressure to other braking components, such as brake calipers or wheel brake cylinders.
Braking generates heat due to friction between braking components. Brake fluid has heat-absorbing properties that help absorb heat generated during braking. This prevents the braking components from overheating and losing braking efficiency due to increased temperature.
Brake fluid also helps reduce friction between braking components, such as brake pads and brake discs. This helps prevent excessive wear on the braking components and extends their service life.
Brake fluid also has lubricating properties that help reduce friction and wear on the moving components in the brake system. This ensures that the components continue to function properly and have a longer service life.
Some brake fluids also have anti-freeze properties that help prevent the fluid in the brake system from freezing during extreme temperatures. This is especially important in cold weather conditions.
Protection against Rust
Brake fluid also has corrosive properties that help protect the metal components in the brake system from corrosion or rust.
Brake fluid is designed to maintain its stability at high temperatures. This is important because braking generates high temperatures, and the brake fluid must remain effective in fluctuating temperature conditions.
Compatibility with Seal Materials
Brake fluid must be compatible with the seals and hoses in the brake system so that it does not corrode or damage these components.
It is important to choose brake fluid according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and to have regular maintenance on the brake system. Using the right brake fluid will ensure the brake system functions properly, improve driving safety, and extend the life of the braking components.
Brake Fluid Type
The following are various types of brake fluid based on DOT (Department of Transportation) standards. Each type of brake fluid has special characteristics and different levels of performance. The following is a brief explanation of each type of brake fluid:
DOT 3 Brake Fluid
DOT 3 brake fluid is the most commonly used type of brake fluid. It has a relatively low boiling point and can absorb moisture from the air over time. Due to its hygroscopic nature, DOT 3 requires more frequent replacement to minimize water accumulation which can damage brake system components. DOT 3 is usually used on passenger vehicles and light vehicles.
DOT 4 Brake Fluid
DOT 4 brake fluid has a higher boiling point than DOT 3. This provides better braking performance at high temperatures and has better resistance to water absorption. DOT 4 is generally used on vehicles with heavier braking or requiring better braking performance, such as trucks and motor vehicles carrying heavy loads.
DOT 5 Brake Fluid
DOT 5 brake fluid differs from DOT 3 and DOT 4 in that it uses a silicone base. This makes it resistant to the absorption of water and has a higher boiling point. However, DOT 5 also has a special characteristic that requires thorough cleaning upon replacement, as it tends to form air bubbles which can interfere with braking performance.
Brake Fluid DOT 5.1
DOT 5.1 brake fluid has almost the same performance as DOT 4, but with a higher boiling point and better resistance to water absorption. It is a good choice for vehicles that experience high braking loads and require consistent performance.
It is important to always refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations to determine which type of brake fluid is suitable for your vehicle’s brake system. Using the recommended type of brake fluid will help maintain optimal brake system performance and improve driving safety.
What happens when the car’s brake fluid runs out
If the brake fluid in your car is completely depleted, it can cause serious problems to the vehicle’s brake system and significantly reduce driving safety. Brake fluid is an important component of the braking hydraulic system, and running out of brake fluid can impair braking performance and result in the risk of an accident. Here are some of the impacts that might occur if your car’s brake fluid runs out:
Loss of Braking Ability
The brake fluid operates the braking hydraulic system which converts brake pedal pressure into hydraulic pressure that is applied to the braking components. Without sufficient brake fluid, this system will not function, and you may have difficulty or even lose your ability to brake effectively.
Brake fluid also acts as a heat sink, helping to reduce heat generated during braking. If the brake fluid runs out, the braking components can generate excessive heat due to friction, which in turn can reduce braking effectiveness and even cause damage to the components.
Excessive Wear on the Braking Components
Without brake fluid, braking components such as brake pads and brake discs would experience direct friction, causing rapid wear. This can reduce component life and impair braking performance.
Loss of effective braking ability can increase the risk of an accident. You may not be able to stop the vehicle quickly in an emergency situation or when you encounter a sudden stop in traffic.
If you find that your car’s brake fluid is very low or low, it is very important to refill the brake fluid immediately according to the recommendations of your vehicle manufacturer. However, if you are unsure or have no experience in refilling brake fluid, it is advisable to contact a repair shop or an experienced technician to carry out the necessary maintenance. Don’t neglect maintenance on the brake system, because this is directly related to your safety and that of other road users.
When Should Car Brake Fluid Be Replaced?
Car brake fluid needs to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s guidelines, usually every 1-2 years or 20,000-40,000 km. Replacement may be more frequent if the vehicle is used with heavy braking, in difficult road conditions, or there is a problem with the braking system. Sticking to these guidelines is important for safety and optimal braking performance.
How to check and add car brake fluid
Here are the steps to check and add brake fluid to your car:
Check Brake Fluid
- Park the car and turn off the engine.
- Open the hood and locate the brake fluid reservoir.
- Check the oil level, make sure it is between the “MIN” and “MAX” marks.
Adding Brake Fluid
- Make sure you have the right brake fluid.
- Unscrew the reservoir, slowly add oil until it reaches the “MAX” mark.
- Replace the cap, start the engine, and check the level again.
- Test the brakes carefully to ensure they are normal.
Price of car brake fluid
The price of car brake fluid varies depending on the brand, quality and location. In general, good brake fluid can be found for around $10 to $30 a quart or more. Prices can be higher for high-quality or well-known brand brake fluid. Be sure to compare prices and choose the right brake fluid according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
In maintaining the performance and safety of your vehicle, maintaining the braking system is crucial. Brake fluid plays an important role in maintaining effective and safe braking. By following the manufacturer’s recommended replacement guidelines, you can ensure optimal performance of your car’s brake system.
To facilitate the management of your vehicle maintenance, we recommend using the Vehicle Maintenance System from TransTRACK. With this tool, you can easily track brake fluid replacement and other maintenance schedules, and receive notifications when it’s time to replace them. So, don’t ignore the importance of braking system maintenance and use TransTRACK to ensure your vehicle is always in prime condition and safe for your journey.