How to Check Brake Fluid

Mechanic checking brake fluid


It goes without saying that your car’s brakes are one of its most essential components that must be in good working order at all times. In addition to scheduling brake service at all of the recommended intervals, learning how to check brake fluid at home can help you stay on top of the overall condition of your brakes. In the guide below, the Hyundai Inland Empire service center provides everything you need to know so you can continue driving safely in Redlands. 

What is Brake Fluid, and What Does it Do?

Put simply, brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that facilitates the movement of the brake pedal. But that’s not the only important role brake fluid plays – it also acts as a lubricant for the brake system and helps prevent damaging corrosion. Most vehicles use a brake fluid that is glycol-ether based, but there are other brake fluids on the market that are silicone-based (DOT-5) or mineral oil-based (LHM). If you’re unsure what type of brake fluid your vehicle requires, your owner’s manual should have the answer. 

If you’re driving a Hyundai vehicle, you can also call our Hyundai service center at to speak directly with a service advisor. 

Learn How to Check Brake Fluid in 3 Steps

  1. Under the hood, locate the brake fluid reservoir on the master cylinder. If needed, your owner’s manual should contain a description or diagram that shows you where to look. 
  2. There will be “minimum” and “maximum” markers on the outside of the brake fluid reservoir. Use these indicators to check the brake fluid level – if it’s near the minimum line, you’ll know it’s time for brake fluid replacement or service. 
  3. While you’re checking the fluid level, ask yourself this question: What color is the brake fluid? A dark brown or black color with an oil-like appearance indicates a need for a full-on brake fluid flush. 

Why Change Brake Fluid?

There are several good reasons to change your car’s brake fluid regularly:

  • Brake fluid draws moisture, which can corrode your brakes if left unattended.
  • Over time, brake fluid can become riddled with contaminants that can damage the brake system.
  • When your car’s ABS (anti-lock braking system) and traction control are enabled, they generate heat. The heat can have a negative effect on your brake fluid’s quality.

What Color is Brake Fluid?

When it has been freshly replaced, brake fluid is nearly clear with a hint of yellow. What color is brake fluid as it ages and picks up contaminants? It will eventually turn to a dark brown or black color that more closely resembles oil, at which point it should be replaced. 

How Often to Check Brake Fluid

You don’t want to run into unexpected brake issues in San Bernardino, so it’s best to check the brake fluid at least once per year. Brake fluid can typically go 4 – 5 years before it needs to be replaced, but it might need to be replaced sooner based on the make and model of your car, driving conditions, and your driving habits. 

Schedule Brake Service at Hyundai Inland Empire

If you’re struggling with how to check brake fluid, Hyundai Inland Empire can help! Our service center is conveniently located near Highland. Contact us or schedule an appointment online to get started today, and be sure to review our service specials so you don’t miss out on a great opportunity to save on maintenance!

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