Check Your Brake Fluid

Edited by Rich, Charmed, Eng, Anonymous and 2 others

Healthy Break fluid helps brake systems stay in shape. This guide will teach you how to check the level of the brake fluid in your automobile.

When you depress the brake pedal in your car the force of your foot is delivered to the brake system through brake fluid. Having non-polluted brake fluid at the correct levels in the brake system will help the car stop efficiently. If the car is taking more effort to stop, depressing the pedal feels unresponsive, or the pedal needs to be pushed further towards the floor then the brake fluid might need to be refilled or changed.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help


Tools you will need

  • Clean rag
  • Gloves
  • Brake fluid
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Vehicle Owner's Manual


  1. 1
    Secure the car.
    Make sure you're not parked on an incline, and be sure to apply the parking break before performing any vehicle maintenance. Never work while the car is on! Also, let the engine cool before checking fluids.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  2. 2
    Wear gloves.
    Brake fluid is toxic. Always wear gloves when handling.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  3. 3
    Open the hood from inside the car.
    Some modern cars have switches which will open the hood from inside the car's cab. If your car does, flip the switch then return to the front of the car and raise the hood to its full height. Once raised, make sure the support rod is firmly in place.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  4. 4
    Manually raise the hood.
    A lever with a hood icon will be below the steering wheel on the driver's side of the car. Raise this level to unlatch the hood. Return to the front of the car and slide your fingers under the hood until you feel another latch. Press down on this latch to unhook the hood. Raise the hood the full height of the support rod and secure the rod into the slots on the hood.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  5. 5
    Locate the reservoir.
    The master brake cylinder is located near the back of the engine on the driver's side in most vehicles. The container may be labeled "brake fluid" or it may state the type of brake fluid compatible with the engine. Look for a plastic reservoir with a cap on top. Older cars might have a metal box which is held in place with a frame instead of plastic. Your owner's manual will have the exact location of the brake fluid reservoir.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  6. 6
    Clean around the reservoir cap.
    Use a clean rag to clean the cap and reservoir. This helps keep contaminants out of the fluid. Contaminants hamper the brake fluids performance.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  7. 7
    Remove the cap.
    If the car has an old metal container then use a screwdriver to move the frame aside then open the metal box. The plastic reservoirs have simple screw or clip-on tops. Either flip the lid off with a screwdriver or unscrew the cap with your hand.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  8. 8
    Check the fluid level.
    The fluid level markings will be on the reservoir itself. Check the outside or inside of the chamber for the markings. Usually, solid lines are used to mark the fill and warning levels. If the fluid in the chamber is below or near the fill line then fluid must be added.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  9. 9
    Adding brake fluid.
    Check the manual to ensure you have the correct brake fluid. If so then remove the cap and pour the fluid through a funnel into the brake fluid chamber. Stop and check the level frequently. Stop when the fluid is just above the fill line of the reservoir chamber.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  10. 10
    Close reservoir.
    Replace the lid of the reservoir. Make sure the lid is tight.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  11. 11
    Lower hood.
    Unhook the hood support and place it back along the frame. Lower the hood carefully. Do not let the hood slam down. When the latch clicks, give the hood a final push down to finish closing it.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help


Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Check the color of your brake fluid. Compare the color of the brake fluid in the chamber to the fluid in the container. If the chamber fluid is darker it could mean that your brake system is contaminated. Consult with a mechanic to find the source pollution.
  • Ask why is fluid escaping? Brake fluid does not evaporate. If you need to refill the fluid frequently then you should ask a mechanic to check the brake lines and brake pads.
  • Change the fluid. Manufacturers recommend having the brake fluid changed every couple years.
  • Take care of your manual. Your car manual is a treasure trove of important information. Take good care of it. Place it in a plastic bag and keep it in the garage or the glove compartment.

Questions and Answers

Should I add bake fluid if below fill line?

YES. Since brake fluids are really important in a car. You might have an accident if your brakes are out of fluids. So make sure always bring some brake fluids in your car and check on your car's break fluid to avoid accident on the road.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help


VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Premier Author
Articles Started
Article Edits
4,680 Points
Reckit is a premier author with VisiHow. Reckit has achieved the level of "Corporal" with 4,680 points. Reckit has started articles and made article edits. people have read Reckit's article contributions.
Ask Reckit
Hi, my name is Reckit. I hope my article on "Check Your Brake Fluid" was helpful. If you have a question please click the button below.

Article Info

Categories : Automotive

Recent edits by: Mac Evans Cerrillo, Anonymous, Eng

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 1,094 times.


Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No