How to Check Your Car’s Brake Fluid Level

The next most important level to check is brake fluid. The reservoir for this is often attached to a large drum-shaped object, which is the brake servo for boosting the action of your push on the pedal. Some modern cars have pumped systems to do the job of the servo, but whatever you have, the reservoir is mounted on something from which many metal pipes run.

Again, the reservoir has maximum and minimum markings but any sudden drop in fluid levels is best investigated by experts. If brake fluid is leaking it may be contaminating the brake pads, reducing their stopping ability, and if that happens inside drum brakes (as opposed to disc brakes) it can be difficult to spot. This can be very dangerous because it can leave you with one brake not working, making the car slew to one side on heavy braking.

Cars Brake Fluid Level How to Check Your Cars Brake Fluid Level

If you have to top up the fluid to get to a garage, thoroughly clean around the reservoir cap before undoing it and only use a freshly opened bottle of fluid that meets the specification given J in the handbook, then make sure you replace the reservoir’s cap tightly. These precautions are necessary because brake fluid absorbs water which, when the brakes get hot, creates water vapour bubbles in the system leading to brake fade. The fluid also needs replacing at mileages recommended by the manufacturer for the same reason. Brake fluid can damage paintwork.

Cars with hydraulic clutches may have a second reservoir like the brake fluid one and drops in levels should be treated in the same way as brake fluid for the same reason: out of sight, it could be contaminating the clutch plate.


There may also be a translucent reservoir for the power steering, though it may have a metal or opaque plastic one with a dipstick inside the lid. If you have to take the lid off, clean around it first and make sure it is on tight afterwards.


Some cars, notably automatics, also have a dipstick for the transmission oil, which is checked in the same way as engine oil.

Cars Brake Fluid Level 1 How to Check Your Cars Brake Fluid Level


The thing you most often have to top up is the washer bottle. It is a legal requirement to have working windscreen washers as well as being common sense. It is easiest to have a container of washer fluid made up. Some washer bottles have a mesh insert in the neck to stop debris getting in and blocking the washer jets and others have a mesh guard on the outlet pipe. If you have to use rainwater to fill the washer, filter it through a piece of cloth because once debris gets into the washer pipes it is very difficult to remove.

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