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How to Check Brake Fluid – DIY in Cary

Mechanic checking brake fluid


When you need brake repair in Cary, you know you can count on the service department at Hendrick Cadillac Cary. Routine brake service is important to keep your overall brake system functioning properly, ensuring your safety on Morrisville roads. However, certain brake maintenance can be completed relatively quickly at home, like checking the brake fluid. Save yourself a trip down the service lane and read on with us to learn how to check brake fluid!



First, What is Brake Fluid and What Does it Do?

Curious why it’s important to keep your brake fluid at a certain level? Brake fluid helps facilitate the pressing of the brake pedal, making it easier for you to reach a full stop in Apex. Additionally, brake fluid is a lubricant for the overall brake system and prevents corrosion. Most often, vehicles use glycol-ether-based brake fluid, but there are other types of brake fluid available, like silicone-based fluid (DOT-5) and mineral oil-based fluid (LHM). Your owner’s manual should inform you about the type of brake fluid in your vehicle.

How to Check Brake Fluid in 3 Steps

  1. Open the hood and find the brake fluid reservoir. Your owner’s manual can point you in the right direction if you’re a little lost.
  2. Look for the minimum and maximum lines on the reservoir’s exterior. Check your brake fluid level against these lines. You want the fluid level to be closest to the maximum line; if it’s at or below the minimum line, you need to replace the fluid.
  3. What color is the brake fluid? The color will indicate whether it’s time for a brake fluid flush. If it’s dark brown to black in color and the consistency resembles motor oil, it’s definitely time to flush the old fluid.

Why Replace Brake Fluid?

Occasionally, the brake fluid in your vehicle needs to be flushed and replaced. Why?

  • Brake fluid is formulated to draw moisture. When the moisture content reaches about 2% or 3%, it’s recommended to change the fluid because the moisture can get too hot and prevent your brakes from working in Durham.
  • Contaminants can make their way into your brake fluid over time. Eventually, you will need to replace it to prevent the contaminants from damaging the brake-related systems.
  • The ABS and traction control systems in your car generate heat when activated, and the heat can decrease the brake fluid’s longevity.

What Color is Brake Fluid Supposed to Be?

When you’re checking your brake fluid, what color is the brake fluid supposed to be? Fresh brake fluid is nearly clear with a yellow tinge. Over time, the fluid retains contaminants and eventually darkens in color. Dark brown or black fluid is very dirty and should be replaced as soon as possible.

How Often Should You Check the Brake Fluid?

We recommend inspecting your brake fluid during every oil change, or at least once per year. Brake fluid is known to stay healthy for about four to five years, but yours may last shorter or longer based on your vehicle, your driving habits, and the conditions where you drive. If you follow your manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule, you can rest assured your brake fluid is being tended to as needed.

Brake Repair in Cary

If you’d prefer to have your brake fluid checked by a professional or you need brake repair in Cary because your brakes are grinding, you can count on the service team at Hendrick Cadillac Cary. Book an appointment online or contact us to get started.


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