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What Happens if Your Brake Fluid Is Too Low?

Brake fluid is a crucial component of modern automotive brakes because it transfers the force of the driver’s foot from pedal to brake calliper.

In much older cars, this linkage would have been a solid piece of metal rod or even a wire on antique cars. Brake fluid is an innovation that saves space and improves braking performance over a longer period of time.

It’s therefore paramount to replace your brake fluid at the recommended intervals, to maintain the same braking distances.


How Brake Fluid Works

When the brake pedal is pressed, it pushes a piston into a master cylinder. This cylinder is filled with brake fluid and the cylinder pushes the brake fluid through the hoses in the system to the brake callipers on each brake disc (four in total, one for each wheel).

More cylinders attached to the callipers multiply the force of your foot, so much so that it generates enough pressure to clamp the brake pads to each wheel, and allow modulation to slow or stop the car completely. As you can see, brake fluid plays a major part in this system by being the ‘linkage’ between the brake pedal and all other components that make up the brake system.

Here are four keys signs that your brake fluid is running low:


  • ABS activates
    ABS being activated at the right time is a good thing, such as when slowing down on a slippery surface or during a sudden stop to avoid skidding. However, if you notice that your car is using ABS in situations where it would not have in the past, this may be a sign that the brake fluid needs topping up.

  • Pedal Problems
    Having a hard time pushing your brake pedal? It might require more fluid to take up the slack in the system.

  • Brake Pads
    Low brake fluid will affect your brake pads and sometimes cause vibrations under braking.

  • Noise
    Noisy brakes are always unhappy brakes. It could be your brake fluid that is affecting the pads or the way in which the callipers are engaging. Have a professional check over your brakes for repairs and peace of mind.


How Brake Fluid Deteriorates

Brake fluid is hygroscopic – this means that during its usable life, it absorbs water while inside the hoses and pipes of the brake system that it lubricates and operates. As the water content increases, the temperature that the liquid boils at decreases. The boiling point of the brake fluid getting low means that overheating will have a negative effect on your braking performance.

Oaks Services is the leading provider of MOTs and car repairs in the Surrey area. We offer car and van maintenance services to customers throughout Addlestone, Chertsey, Shepperton and Woking, and have done for many years. We even offer half price MOTs with every service. Contact us today to book your next appointment.