The 10 Best Brake Fluids to Maintain the Safety of Your Brakes
Have you ever been driving your car and stomped on the brakes only to notice that it took a bit more force to stop your vehicle than it used to?
Well, this speaks to the importance of brake fluid. Brake fluid is a liquid solution used in hydraulic braking systems that increases your foot’s force onto the brake. If you didn’t have brake fluid, it would take a lot more energy to stop your car, and in some cases, you may not be able to stop it at all.
How Brake Fluid Works
When you put your foot onto the brake, a vacuum booster amplifies the force of your foot, activates the master cylinder, and releases pressurized brake fluid into the brake lines transporting it to brake pads. This helps create friction with the rotors to stop your car’s wheels. Check out this resource to learn more on how brake fluid works.
When You Should Replace Brake Fluid
Over time, brake fluid can lose its effectiveness due to water contamination and brake line corrosion. Learning how to check your brake fluid is important. Signs like soft brake pedals, oil puddles under the car, aging brake pads, and ABS warnings signify that it’s time to change your brake fluid. Timelines of when you should switch out your brake fluid vary between two and five years, but your manufacturer will have guidelines of when you should do this.
DOT 3 vs. DOT 4 Brake Fluid
For your brake fluid to be the most effective, it needs to have the right thickness and flow, also known as viscosity and high boiling point. Two primary types of brake fluid differ on these elements — Department of Transportation (DOT) 3 and 4. DOT 3 brake fluid absorbs less water than DOT 4, meaning that fewer brake fluid changes are needed, while the latter has higher dry and wet points, making it ideal in higher temperatures.
So, what brake fluid options are out there? Here are some of our best brake fluid options to consider.
10 Best Brake Fluids
AutoZone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
Are you living in a cold climate? Well, the AutoZone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce is a viable choice. This option can blend with regular brake fluids (so if you already have a favorite, this one should mix in nicely). It is ideal for all hydraulic drums, disc brakes, and hydraulic clutches that require DOT 3. If you’re looking for an affordable DOT3 brake fluid option, then this is one you should add to your list.
Prestone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
This DOT 3 option is meant to go the distance — literally. With a 50,000-mile fluid life, it can preserve the health of your brakes for a long time. It has a high boiling point which can ward off overheating. It also protects against water absorption, which can lead to a decline in performance if not checked. Lastly, the Prestone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce also guards against corrosion within all DOT 3 braking systems.
Pentosin DOT 4 Brake Fluid 1 liter
The Pentosin DOT 4 Brake Fluid 1 liter is a DOT 4 option that can help protect your bake systems against corrosion and resistance. However, the place where this product truly shines is in its low viscosity at low temperatures. It also decreases vapor lock — the process of liquid becoming gas before it reaches the carburetor or fuel line. Lastly, if water absorption is a common issue for your brakes, this product touts long-lasting resistance to water absorption and retention.
Lucas Oil DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
Do you have a disc and drum brake system with a DOT 3 requirement? Then the Lucas Oil DOT 3 Brake Fluid 32 ounce should be on your list. It adheres to federal safety standards like FMVSS no. 16 and SAE J1703 specifications and provides excellent lubrication in braking systems. Drivers can also expect protection against seal softening and hardening and rust and corrosion.
Valvoline DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
DOT 4 brake fluid is ideal for drivers with cars that produce high temperatures due to faster speeds or heavy towing. The Valvoline DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce is an excellent choice if you fall into either category. It’s safe for a range of braking systems, including ABS, disc, and drum, and it can help you defeat corrosion and keep your brake system running, even in higher temperatures. This product may be a viable option if you have a sports car or a truck for work.
Prestone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 12 ounce
Much like its DOT 3 counterpart, the Prestone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 12 ounce also has a 50,000 mile formula life and a high-grade formula meant to protect against overheating. It has a high boiling point, at 496 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than the DOT minimum standard. It’s safe to use in all braking systems and can blend with other DOT 4 fluids. If you’re looking for a DOT 4 fluid that can last a long time while protecting against corrosion, then this is an option that you want to check out.
AutoZone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 1 gallon
Sometimes you need more than 12 or 32 ounces to energize your brakes, and AutoZone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 1 gallon is just the product for the job. If you already have your favorite brake fluid, no worries, as it’s safe to mix this product with others. Also, even at low temperatures, this brake fluid has good viscosity to facilitate a strong flow in your braking system. If you’re looking for a durable option or a product that offers more bang for your buck, this choice is one to consider.
AutoZone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
Are you starting to feel those brakes soften? Well, it may be time to consider a brake fluid like the AutoZone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce. Not only can it smooth out those braking issues, but it can support the operation of your brakes regardless of the type of braking system that you have.
Prestone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce
What’s better than a 50,000 extended formula length? How about one that’s 75,000 miles? The Prestone DOT 4 Brake Fluid 32 ounce offers long-lasting protection for brakes through its exemplary DOT 4 formula. It provides solid performance in extreme braking conditions and prevents overheating in brakes. However, unlike some other products on this list, mixing this formula with another is not recommended. Either way, this can be a decent product if you want to stick to Prestone brake fluids.
Prestone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 1 gallon
The Prestone DOT 3 Brake Fluid 1 gallon is another excellent option for getting a decent amount of bang for your buck — affordably. It has a 50,000 miles fluid life, high dry boiling point, prevents metal corrosion, and can work with most braking systems, including ABS, disc, or drum. As with the DOT 4 option, it’s ideal only to use this product with other Prestone brake fluid because mixing can decrease its effectiveness, which can be a downside if you have another brake fluid option that you prefer. However, this is a solid DOT 3 product if your car calls for this formula.
Brake fluid is essential for preserving the health of your braking system. Understanding the specific brake fluid formula needs for your car and the temperatures and weather conditions that can impact it will help you decide which formula option is best. If you’re looking for a brake fluid option, consider the ones on this list and pick them up at your local AutoZone.