How do I know if my brake fluid needs replacing?

By David Sholicar

Brake fluid exists in a sealed system, which means theoretically it should never need replacing. Well, not quite. Over the years, it can become dirty and contaminated, affecting the performance of your braking system. That means you’ll need a visit to your local Protyre garage to get it replaced.

mechanic filling brake fluid

What is brake fluid?

Brake fluid is essential for a couple of reasons. It translates the brake pedal action into hydraulic force through the brake callipers. No fluid, no brakes! It also serves to lubricate the internal parts of your braking system for longer life and optimal performance.

How can I check my brake fluid?

Checking your brake fluid is a relatively straightforward operation but most drivers never bother. There can be a lot riding on your brake fluid levels in terms of driver safety and it’s much easier than you think:

  • Find the brake fluid reservoir: this is under the bonnet on the master cylinder. Consult your owner's manual for details.

  • Check the brake fluid level: it should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum lines. If it’s close to the minimum then you’ll need to have your brake fluid replacement done professionally.

  • Examine the brake fluid: if it’s dark brown or black and looks like used oil then your brakes need a flush and fluid replacement. The darker it is, the dirtier, more contaminated and less effective it is.

How do I know if my brake fluid needs replacing?

There are 3 telltale signs that your brake fluid needs replacing and years of experience tell us that you need to act quickly if you encounter any of the following:
1. ABS light: if this comes on and stays on then the chances are you need to either replace or top up your brake fluid. This is the most common way of finding out that there’s a problem.
2. Pedal problems: if pushing down on the brake pedal is proving more difficult than usual you could have a problem with your brake fluid. If you find you have to press the brake pedal right to the floor or are you having to pump a couple of times before you come to a stop, brake fluid is the likely culprit.
3. Leak under the vehicle: is there a dark, slick spot on your drive? This could indicate a brake fluid leak which means that you must have your brakes looked at as a matter of urgency.

How can I get my brake fluid replaced?

Easy to check but hard to replace, brake fluid is a job for the professionals. Brake fluid is part of the braking ecosystem that keeps your car safe on the road and needs to be replaced if you spot any of the telltale signs.
At your local Protyre garage, our tyre professionals and service technicians can run a free vehicle check that gives your car a thorough once over. Because brake performance is a serious business, we’ll also run our 8 point free brake check for peace of mind. If our qualified fitters spot any problems, we’ll book you in for a brake fluid replacement.

Why not book your free vehicle check with us online today?

Free Brake Check

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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