Low Brake Fluid Symptoms (+ How to Fix)

Are you noticing signs of trouble with your braking system? Are you confused if these signs are low brake fluid symptoms? Then worry no more because you are in the right place.

Having a good set of brakes is essential to your welfare and that of other drivers on the road.

Keeping these brakes in good condition should be a priority for all drivers. We should also be able to detect any issues early to be fixed before they cause any damage.

This article explains several low brake fluid symptoms and how to fix them before they lead to severe brake system damage. Several FAQs about the brake system and how to maintain your brakes are also included in this article.

Your vehicle’s brake fluid is essential for a successful braking system. This system is hydraulic, which means it depends on the fluid to create the pressure needed to stop the car when working.

However, when you hit the pedal, where pressure production from the fluid to compress the pads that stop the wheel, air found in the brake or leaks can reduce the hydraulic power, making it hard to stop the car completely.

When you notice any problem regarding the brakes, visit a professional in the field immediately. It is unsafe to drive on the road when you notice the low brake fluid symptoms listed above.

Frequent examination and practical preservation of your vehicle can assist in avoiding these low brake fluid symptoms. Therefore, it is vital to adhere to the factory advice for changing brake fluid and flushing in the manual guide.

Also Read: Is Brake Fluid Flammable? (Why You Should Be Careful With Them)

Other Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

1. The Abs Light Come On

The standard method to realize you will need additional brake fluid is when your ABS light comes on. The light turns on when you have to change or put additional brake fluid in the vehicle.

2. Brake Pedal Problems

Whenever you have difficulties hitting your brake pedals, then maybe be a need for additional brake fluid.

3. Worn Brake Pads

A low level of brake fluid can affect the brake pads. Since brake pads are an essential feature of the vehicle’s braking system, having a low brake fluid level can lead to the pads not functioning correctly.

4. Brake Noises

When there’s no brake fluid in the car, it can lead to noise from the brakes. Aside from the fact that this noise is unpleasant to the hearing, it can also lead to significant issues as time goes on.

Also Read: Why Won’t My Brake Lights Turn Off (Causes & Fix)

How Does Brake Fluid Work?

Brake fluid is necessary for a car, but what is its function? In a nutshell, brake fluids aid your vehicle’s brakes work correctly. When the brake pedal is pressed down, the fluid pressure goes up with a force that passes to the caliper through the brake lines.

The caliper, at that point, presses the brake pad to the rotor; this establishes friction and pressure upon the wheel and results in the rotation breaking off.

The vehicle might not be capable of working correctly if there’s a low amount of brake fluid in it.

What Causes Low Brake Fluid

What Causes Low Brake Fluid

The most common cause of low brake fluid include:

1. Brake System Leaks

Irrespective of the location, which could be the brake lines, calipers, or the master cylinder, when there’s a Leakage in the brake system, it can reduce the hydraulic pressure needed to reduce speed and stop the vehicle.

This leakage can be a result of the driver’s error in driving. You can detect leakage from the brake fluid by simply checking if there are puddles beneath your vehicle where you parked it and inspecting the fluid storage beneath the hood.

2. Damaged Brake Pads

Caliper pistons are forced to move a long way to meet the break if your brake pads are damaged. This will need a lot of brake fluid to go a long way down, which can start diminishing as times go by.

3. Defective Brake Line

Depending on how old and how long different components of the system have been working, it could break down.

Down to the steel part of your brake system, which is likely to rust, especially during Snowy climatic conditions when the roads are being salted to lessen the ice and snow. This can lead to brake fluid leaks and can cause low brake fluid

Signs That You Need a Brake Fluid Flush or Change

Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

How your brake operates becomes different when there is leakage or malfunctioning of the brake fluid. When you notice anything, park your car in a safe environment and inspect the brake fluid level.

When you are unsure, take your vehicle to the automotive center to examine. Do not drive your car when your brakes are faulty to avoid putting yourself at risk. Here are some signs that your brake fluid needs flushing or changing.

1. The Brake Warning Light Appears

Various cars are designed to have brake sensors that interact with the vehicle’s system—an internal system to notify you of possible difficulties.

The light can come up due to a low level of brake fluid. Though sometimes losing Fuel could be expected, the system should be sealed totally and have filled brake fluid.

When the fluid in the vehicle is not filled, examine the vehicle immediately.

2. Discolored, Dirty, or Low Fluid

When fluids start having colors like black or brown or possess fragments on the fluid, the fluid is dirty and worn out.

A low fluid level also shows leakage in the brake system, especially when the liquid is filled not quite long.

Leakage in brake fluids significantly affects how your vehicle works because low brake fluid can hinder your ability to stop your car.

3. The Brake Pedal Is Mushy or Difficult to Press

When you step on the pedal when driving, a low brake fluid level can lead to a mushy feeling. This happens when the increased moisture inside the system starts to bubble, caused by the quantity of heat generated while hitting the brake pad.

This also gives rise to the air inside the brake lines. Air cannot squeeze together; instead, it leads to the pedal dropping and reduces the car’s ability to stop.

Low Brake Fluid but No Visible Leak?

There could be some different reasons why there’s a low level of brake fluid aside from leakage:

  1. It leaks in the brake booster. Sometimes, the brake fluid leaks inside the brake booster. Leakage will not be detected whenever this occurs, and it will damage the brake booster.
  2. Old brake pads. Old or worn brake pads cause much fluid to store in the calipers, which can cause a low level of brake fluid in the cylinder.

Also Read: Brake Booster Replacement (Everything To Know)

Can You Drive a Car With Low Brake Fluid?

Can You Drive a Car With Low Brake Fluid

This can be done when the car still has high power to brake, but it needs to be done carefully. When the damage or leakage is not serious, add more brake fluid before driving.

The brake power can probably last until you get to your location, where the issue can be fixed.

It will be better not to drive when there’s low or no braking power—allowing an expert to tow the vehicle or reach out to a towing service, though it might take a long time for the towing service company to arrive its a better and safer way.

In a scenario where you are on the road and nobody has a towing vehicle or no one wants to stop. In this situation, there is a solution but ensure there is a slight amount of braking power in your braking system.

This process requires profound driving experience, good reflexes, and a cold head. 

Ensure you are out of major roads or highways. If possible, go through the side lane and ensure the hazard lights are on.

Before starting your vehicle, add some brake fluid if you have any. As stated, this might give a little pressure on the system.

Always know that you’ll need to hit the brake pedal several times to get some braking power, especially when the fluid issue is in the last phase.

You should also be careful about the road conditions to prevent collisions with other cars.

To slow the car down, you can merge the brake pedal and the hand brake.

This can be achieved by continuously holding on to the release handle and pulling the brake as you are doing this to avoid getting jammed. As you are removing the handbrake, it should not pop or click.

Here are the steps:

  1. Before you start your vehicle, add more brake fluids.
  2. After this, you can start your car and hit the pedal a few times to get braking power.
  3. Avoid high speedways or highways. If there’s no other way aside from this, ensure you use the side lane to reduce risk.
  4. Switch on your hazard signals and put on the seat belt
  5. Drives slowly and stays away from other vehicles. Driving slowly will also allow you to get more energy.
  6. Use the handbrakes if the pedal is going soft for added brakes. As you are using this, ensure you are pressing the release handle.
  7. Use the engine braking very well to slow the vehicle down very well. Do accelerate when you need to
  8. Start to slow down and break from a far-off when you get to your location. Doing this will help you arrive safely.

Though this could be difficult to do, risky, and like a freak show, it can be helpful when there’s no solution.

Once more, only do this in an urgent situation when there’s no way to solve the issue at that point.

What Happens When You Drive With Low Brake Fluid?

Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

Brake fluid performs an essential function in the braking system that is often overlooked. If your brake fluid is low, There’s a possibility of brake failure, which could be risky. When there is a brake failure, you might not be able to stop the car safely.

When a brake failure happens, send signals to other drivers on the road by hitting the brake pedal for some time to switch on the lights. Also, you can turn on your vehicle’s hazard light.

After, you can activate your parking brake to bring the car to low gear.

Then when you get to a speed of about 20 miles downwards, endeavor to carefully leave the road to a weed, grass, or dirt. These places create friction that assists your vehicle is coming to a halt.

Hint: when the parking brake does not activate, put your car in a low gear, steer guardedly safely to an angle till the car stops rolling fully.

Frequently Asked Questions – Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

What Happens When You Are Low on Brake Fluid?

The brake pedal becomes mushy, soft, or bouncy. This allows air to enter the brake lines, causing a soft brake. The spongy or mushy brake pedal can be alarming and threatening, especially when you don’t repair them when you notice them.

How Do I Know if My Brake Fluid Is Low?

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Can I Add Brake Fluid?

It depends on the level at which your brake fluid is on; if the liquid is higher than or at the MIN line, you don’t have to worry, but if your fluid is beneath the MIN line, cautiously remove the cover and add some brake fluid till it reaches the level beneath the MAX line. Again, you do not have to fill it to the extreme.

Can I Drive With Low Brake Fluid?

Driving a car in the absence of brake fluid is not safe because it’s the fluid that activates the brake system. The purpose of the brake fluid is to send pressure to the pad from the pedal. So without brake fluid, the pad will not react when you hit the pedal, and the car won’t stop.

Can Brake Fluid Go Low Without a Leak?

Most often, the reason for the brake fluid level to drop is due to leakage, however, there can be other causes. For example, there could be leaks in the brake booster that are not visible.

Conclusion – Low Brake Fluid Symptoms

Having low brake fluid can be detrimental to your vehicle’s optimal performance. to recap, low brake fluid symptoms include:

  1. Brake fluid appearing dirty, discolored, or low
  2. The car takes a long time before stopping
  3. A brake warning light appears on the dash
  4. The brake pedal feels mushy or spongy

If you notice these low brake fluid symptoms, inspect your vehicle for leaks and fix them. you can take your vehicle to an auto repair store for proper diagnoses and repair

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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