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How to top up brake fluid

5th March 2021

The brake fluid in a car is vital to the smooth use of any brake system – without it, the brakes would cease to function. As a driver, checking and topping up brake fluid is your responsibility and not doing so could risk the life of not only yourself, but any passengers in your car. Read our helpful tip on how to top up brake fluid, how to check it and the warning signs that might occur when the fluid is low.

Signs of low brake fluid

Having enough brake fluid in your car is crucial, so knowing the signs of low brake fluid is very important. We have outlined 4 principal areas where you may notice a change when brake fluid is low:

  • Stiff brake pedal – brake fluid reduces friction in pads, so when there is low brake fluid, you may have difficulty applying your brake.
  • Unnecessary ABSanti-lock brake systems are one of the best safety inventions of our time. However, when you notice your ABS being applied on a non-slippery surface, it may be time to check your brake fluid.
  • Vibrations when braking - brake fluid is used to smoothen the braking system, however when your brake fluid is low, your brake pads can be affected. If you feel vibrations while braking, we recommend checking your brake fluid.
  • Loud and squeaky brakes - brakes are not meant to squeak - brake fluid is meant to stop this. If you notice your car screeching to a halt, it may be time to pop the bonnet and take a look at your brake fluid level.

How to check brake fluid

If you have noticed any of the above symptoms when you’re driving, its time to check your brake fluid level. Our 4 simple steps will help you establish how to top your brake fluid up:

  1. Drive your car around for a few minutes to fill the brake system with fluid.
  2. After parking the car and turning off the engine, pop the bonnet and locate the brake fluid reservoir. If you are unsure where this is, check your drivers manual.
  3. Check where the fluid lies – it should be within 2cm of the top of the cap and in line with the maximum and minimum markers.
  4. Check the colour of your brake fluid. It should be white - if it is dark in colour, it needs to be replaced. 

Topping up brake fluid

If your brake fluid is not within the maximum and minimum for your car, or is dark in colour, it needs to be topped up or replaced. As brake fluid deteriorates with extensive use, darkened fluid needs to be replaced by a professional at a garage. However, if your brake fluid level is low, you can easily top it up yourself following our simple steps:

  1. Open the reservoir cap
  2. Slowly, using a funnel, add the brake fluid to the reservoir until it meets the maximum marker
  3. Close the reservoir cap, making sure it is tightly screwed on
  4. Drive your car around to check that the brakes are working

If you have any doubts about topping up brake fluid, visit one of our local garages or contact us and we’ll be happy to book you in for an appointment. Alternatively, learn more about how brakes work and why your car brakes may fail from our dedicate car brakes page.