Car Brake Fluid Check: Which Brake Fluid is Best for your Car?
As a car owner, you have a lot to look after. Whether it is the fuel efficiency, engine oil, tyre pressure, wheel alignment, and so much more. Though your car is designed to give maximum comfort and accessibility, it needs occasional repair and replacement to function efficiently. While people pay attention to the engine oil, regularly topping it up and replacing, the brake oil remains largely neglected.
The brake system is a crucial part of the car, which provides safety and should be well-functioning at all times. Brake Fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid which is used to stop the rotating wheel and bring the car into a halt. It works somewhat like this – Brake pressure pushes the fluid down onto your brakes, which in turn forces the brake pads onto the rotors/disc brakes. The rotors are attached to the wheel hubs, and the pressure helps to slow down the car. The fluid is the central most important thing which builds the pressure, which means without good brake fluid, your braking system would work below the efficient threshold, and some time may not even work at all.
This brings us to today’s topic – Which brake fluid is the best for your car, and how do you decide that?
As discussed, brake fluid is an essential part of the brake system, which helps to stop your car when you need to. For this reason, every car owner wants to get their hand on the most top-performing and efficient fluid. Firstly, let’s discuss the benefits of the brake fluid and then we will go on to the various types of brake fluids.
Benefits of Brake Fluid
- Brake Failure: Your brake fluid quality decides the efficiency of your brake system. If you use the best brake fluid, recommended by the manufacturer or the car service centre, your brake is likely to fail. On the other hand, neglected brake fluid can lead to many safety issues and the possibility of brake failure.
- Safety First: You don’t only need to keep the brake fluid full, but also need to replace it regularly. Worn and old brake fluid will not function accurately and can lead to an accident.
- Performance: If you use your car on the track or enjoy autocross, good brakes are almost as important as the engine. The brake fluid quality will determine your stopping power and will give you more command over the vehicle.
Types of Brake Fluid
DOT 3 brake fluid is perfect for the vehicle owners who live on plains and are subjected to the normal driving conditions. It is a poly glycol-based fluid with a wet boiling point of 140 degrees Celsius and a dry boiling point of 205 degrees Celsius. It is known to absorb moisture at a rate of about 2 percent of its volume, over a year.
DOT 3 is very easily available and you can easily mix it with DOT 4 and 5.1 brake fluids without making a toxic resultant. Remember when you’re dealing with brake fluid, wear a glove and keep it away from the car as it can damage the paint.
The DOT 4 is pretty similar to the DOT 3 brake fluid, except that this one is used in higher altitudes. These are also poly glycol-based and have a 2 per cent fluid absorption rate per year. The only difference it has from the DOT 3 brake fluid is that it has a higher boiling point. The wet boiling point stands at 155 degrees Celsius while the dry boiling point is 230 degrees Celsius.
As with DOT 3 fluid, you will need to take precautions and keep it away from the car paint. You can mix the DOT 4 brake fluid with DOT 3 and DOt 5.1.
DOT 5 is not for regular everyday use. It is designed specifically for race cars and other performance-based vehicles. Unlike the other two discussed, it has a silicone base with a synthetic blend. This means that its absorption rate is zero, but this can in turn cause corrosion in the brake line if not taken care of.
The DOT 5 brake fluid has a wet boiling point of 180 degrees Celsius and a dry boiling point of 260 degrees Celsius. It is not designed for cars with antilock brake systems and is not compatible with any other type.
DOT 5.1 is, like DOT 5, intended for race cars and high-performance vehicles. But the difference here is that this oil is compatible with cars using anti lock brake systems. The rest of the characteristics of the poly glycol-based brake fluid is similar to the DOT 3 and 4. It has a 2 percent absorption rate per year and can be mixed with either of the fluids.
It has a wet boiling point of 180 degrees Celsius and a dry boiling point of 260 degrees Celsius.
Why should you look for in your brake fluid?
The first thing you should be concerned about is the brake fluid’s boiling point. As the braking system generates high temperatures, it is possible that the brake fluid turns into vapour, which causes a drop in the braking ability. The dry boiling point is indicative of the brand new fluid. Once when the brake fluid is in use for a longer time, the boiling point drops because of the water contamination. Therefore, the wet boiling point refers to the fluid that has been mixed with the vapour.
Your brake fluid should repel corrosion in areas like ABS control valves, master cylinders, wheel cylinders, and callipers. Some brake fluids use various additives which helps to fight corrosion. For example, silicone is less corrosive than glycol-ether-based fluids.
You should also take a look at the viscosity as it helps to operate the temperatures. This will ensure that the stability control, traction control, and anti-lock braking system function properly.
Brake fluids are designed for certain brake systems which includes disc brakes or drum brakes. Make sure you know your brake system and get one which is compatible with your car.
Now that you are aware of all kinds of features which will help you decide the best brake fluid for your car, you can now make an informed purchase. Some of the known brands like Castrol, Prestone, Mag 1, Motul, etc cater a large number of brake fluid to suit all types of vehicle. You can also ask the car mechanics, and they will surely guide you in the right direction.
This brings us to the end of this article. Taking these factors into account, you will be able to judge which is the best brake fluid for your car. Hope this was helpful. Feel free to comment below in case of any other question.
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