How To Tell If Car Is Low on Brake Fluid

How To Tell If Car Is Low on Brake Fluid

Are your brakes not performing as they should? Don’t take any chances with your safety!

You can experience an illuminated brake or ABS light, a soft or spongy brake pedal, unusual noises during braking, a burning smell, squealing of new brakes, vehicle vibration when braking, and visually low or empty brake fluid reservoir when the car is low on brake fluid.

In this comprehensive article, we delve into the essential signs that indicate low brake fluid levels in your vehicle.

What Is the Need for Brake Fluid in Brake System?

The foundation of a vehicle’s brake system lies in the realm of hydraulics. By harnessing the properties of liquids, force is effortlessly transmitted within a closed system comprising pistons, cylinders, and a specially formulated brake fluid. But how does this system work, and what makes it so reliable?


Liquids possess a unique physical trait: they are incompressible, unlike air. This critical attribute drives the necessity for air-free hydraulic systems. Within such a system, pressure is exerted on the brake fluid, leading to a reduction in the cylinder’s space and consequent displacement of the liquid.

Uniform Transmission

When two equally sized cylinders are interconnected, the liquid dutifully transmits the exerted force while maintaining the original ratio. This fundamental principle has significant implications for vehicles.

What Happens If I Drive with Low Brake Fluid?

brake master cylinder

Driving with low brake fluid can have severe consequences for your vehicle’s braking system and safety. Insufficient brake fluid leads to reduced braking performance, a spongy pedal feel, and longer stopping distances.

It can also result in brake fade and overheating, compromising the brakes’ ability to dissipate heat and increasing the risk of component damage.

Check brake system regularly

Regularly checking brake fluid levels, addressing leaks promptly, and maintaining adequate fluid levels are vital for safe driving. If you notice decreased braking performance or the brake fluid warning light illuminates, have your vehicle inspected by a professional to replenish the fluid or repair the system as needed.

How To Tell If Car Is Low on Brake Fluid?

You can experience these signs when brake fluid is low in your car.

Signs of Low Brake Fluid                                         Description
Brake Light or ABS light is ONIlluminated warning light indicating an issue, including low brake fluid levels.
Brake pedal failureSoft brake pedal or goes to the floor without effective braking.
Noise from the braking systemUnusual noises when brakes are applied due to increased friction.
Odor from the braking systemBurning odor indicates overheating due to low brake fluid.
New brakes are squealingPremature squealing and squeaking of brakes due to uneven wear caused by low fluid.
Vehicle vibrationRumbling and vibration while using the brakes indicate low brake fluid.
Low brake fluid levelsVisually observed low or empty brake fluid reservoir.

Brake Light or ABS Light is ON

Brake light and abs light, car dashboard, fuel meter

The brake light will come on if your brake fluid is low or if there are any brake leaks. You should get this checked out as soon as possible because your brakes won’t work if all the fluid has leaked.

Brake Pedal Failing

Without brake fluid, stopping would be very difficult because brake fluid is an essential part of the hydraulic brake system. If your brake system is low on or out of brake fluid, your brakes might not function at all. Fluid is necessary for hydraulic brake systems to help increase pressure so that a vehicle can stop.

Noise From the Braking System

Your brake pads are not depressed as effectively as they should be when your brake fluid is dirty or low. When you use your brakes, this could lead to uneven wear or even damage to your brake pads, which could result in grinding, squeaking, or squealing sounds.

Odor From the Braking System

If you experience burning odors after hard braking, your brake fluid may have burned out. This happens because brake fluid level is low. In this case, you need to take over in a safe location so that your car can cool down. Additionally, speak with a nearby mechanic to get advice and arrange for a service call.

New Brakes Are Squealing

The pedals are unable to apply the same force to the brake pads when the brake fluid level drops. The pads are worn out unevenly as a result. Applying the brakes causes squeaking, squealing, and grinding as a result. Additionally, applying the brakes may cause the car to rumble and vibrate.

Vehicle Vibration

Low brake fluid levels can reduce the hydraulic pressure in the brake system, which can cause the brake pedal to feel spongy or soft and the car to shake or vibrate when you apply the brakes.

Low Brake Fluid Levels

The brake fluid reservoir is on the master cylinder, under the hood. The “maximum” and “minimum” lines on the reservoir’s exterior should be used as a guide when determining the brake fluid level. When you notice that the brake fluid is at or close to the “minimum line,” it’s time to add some.


What is in brake fluid?

Diethylene glycol (DEG), a toxic alcohol with a boiling point of about 470°F, is frequently found in brake fluid. Diethylene glycol (DEG) has a sweet flavor and has no odor or color. If patients do not receive prompt medical attention, DEG, if swallowed, can be extremely dangerous, even fatal.

What color is brake fluid?

Fresh brake fluid should have a faint hint of yellow coloring and be nearly clear. You require a brake fluid flush and replacement if your brake fluid looks like oil and is dark brown or black.

Is brake fluid important to change?

To maintain a car’s brake system, which is made up of numerous parts connected by hoses and pipes, routine brake fluid changes are essential. The fluid becomes less effective as debris builds up in it, and as it absorbs water, the brakes eventually stop working.

Can I drive my car without brake fluid?

Driving your car without brake fluid is an excellent opportunity to get into an accident. As was already mentioned, brake fluid is essential for the operation of car brakes. You may have run out of brake fluid if you experience problems with the braking system while driving.


I hope you now know how to tell if the car is low on brake fluid. Recognizing the signs of low brake fluid in your car is crucial for maintaining your safety on the road. Stay vigilant and ensure your brake fluid is always at optimal levels for reliable and effective braking. Your safety is worth it!

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