Between oil, petrol, and coolant, it appears that your car requires an inexhaustible supply of liquid to stay operating. You can add brake fluid to the list of essential fluids. You may not be able to stop your vehicle without it! But why do cars require it? What would happen if you ran out of it mid-trip? We’ve got the answers to some of your most pressing brake fluid queries right here!

How Does Brake Fluid Work?

You know it’s necessary and that your car needs it, but what exactly does brake fluid do? In a nutshell, it makes your brakes operate better. When you press the brake pedal, the pressurized fluid expands and goes through your brake lines to the brake. 

The calipers then push your brake pads against the rotors, which puts pressure and friction on the wheels and causes them to stop. Without adequate brake fluid levels, your vehicle may not be able to complete this process efficiently.

Signs of Low Brake Fluid

Most warning signs of low brake fluid are not very subtle. You’ll typically see a warning light on your dashboard that alerts you to the issue, or you’ll notice a significant decrease in braking power. This can happen when you’re trying to stop for a red light or coming to a complete stop at a traffic light.

You hear a squealing or grinding sound when you’re applying the brakes. The brake pedal may feel spongy or like it’s sticking, and you may notice that your vehicle isn’t slowing down as quickly as expected.

What Happens When You Run Out of Brake Fluid?

The biggest problem you’ll face is a lack of bite in your braking system, which means you won’t be able to stop your vehicle as quickly when you step on the brake pedal. In most vehicles, the front rotors will lock, creating a pulsing effect or pulsating brake pedal. This can be very dangerous!

When the unexpected happens, and your brakes fail, you should alert other drivers by pumping the brake pedal a few times to activate the lights. You can also activate your warning lights.

Then, gently apply the parking brake to transfer the transmission into lower ratios. Once you’ve slowed to 20 miles per hour or less, try to carefully pull off the road into grass, dirt, or weeds. These surfaces generate additional friction, allowing your vehicle to come to a full stop.

If your parking brake does not engage, shift into low gear and slowly maneuver in a safe direction until the car entirely rolls to a stop.

What Causes Low Brake Fluid Levels?

While brake fluid does not require as frequent replacement as many other fluids in your car, it can become bad or run low. A leak, on the other hand, might be the source of low brake fluid. Because your car is full of different fluids, don’t leap to conclusions if you see puddles beneath it. The appearance and position of the fluid might help you determine if it is brake fluid.

Brake fluid is typically clear to brown in color, with a faint yellow tint. It also has the slick viscosity of vegetable oil. If you have a brake fluid leak, you will most likely see a puddle like this near one of your vehicle’s wheels.


When your brake fluid is running low, it affects your vehicle’s ability to stop. It can also cause a lot of damage if you’re not careful. If you notice a leak, get it fixed immediately. You may also want to have your vehicle’s brake fluid level checked. It’s a good idea to do this at least every two years, or sooner if you frequently drive on long, steep grades or in severe weather.

Hoover Dam is the go-to expert when it comes to automobile maintenance and repair. We are an auto repair center in Hoover, AL specializing in brake maintenance services plus other automobile repairs. Get in touch with us today!

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