Many drivers are unaware that there are different types of brake fluid. Our readers (ahem), of course, are all experts, so this will come as no surprise. For everyone else, however, here is a guide for you to understand the various types of brake fluid and the difference between them.
What Are the Types of Brake Fluids?
Brake fluid types come with a standard abbreviation (DOT) + a number. DOT stands for Department of Transportation. The number, on the other hand, represents the level of heat the fluid can take before boiling. A higher brake fluid number means the brake fluid has a higher boiling point.
- This is the brake fluid with the lowest boiling point among the four types. Its boiling point is 401 degrees Fahrenheit fresh and 284 degrees degraded.
- This is the most commonly used brake fluid among the vehicles in circulation. Unless you’re sporting the latest year model of your car, chances are you’d need DOT 3 as your brake fluid.
- The boiling point for DOT 4 is at 446 degrees Fahrenheit when fresh, and 311 degrees when degraded. You can generally use this with cars that require DOT 3 brake fluid, but NOT vice versa.
- This type of brake fluid is becoming the successor of DOT 3. Car manufacturers are now moving towards making DOT 4 the minimum standard when it comes to brake fluids.
- The boiling point of DOT 5 is 500 degrees Fahrenheit when fresh and 356 degrees when degraded. You should not mix DOT 5 with any of the other brake fluid types, as doing so will ruin your car’s system.
- DOT 5.1 is typically the same as DOT 5 when it comes to boiling points, however, their difference lies in their composition. DOT 5 is a silicone-based brake fluid, while DOT 5.1 is a glycol-based brake fluid.
It’s not recommended that you go above the brake fluid that your car needs due to the huge price gap between them. Not only that, but the performance boost that you’ll get from ‘upgrading’ will be marginal at best.
The Department of Transportation keeps these fluids in check because they should conform to a certain standard when it comes to temperature, boiling point resistance at high temperatures, and compatibility with other fluids in your brake system.
What Kind of Brake Fluid Do I Need?
In order to figure out what type of brake fluid your car needs, you could either check the owner’s manual or check the master cylinder. Both can tell you what your car needs in order to work properly. A simpler option may be to type your car’s year, make and model into a search engine like Google, and type in “brake fluid type.”
Always remember that if your car needs a DOT 3, you could opt to use a DOT 4. However, if your car needs DOT 4, you cannot use DOT 3. If your car requires DOT 5 or DOT 5.1, you will have to get those types instead. The important thing to remember is that brake fluid types are not always interchangeable with one another.
How Do I Know When I Need to Replace My Brake Fluid?
You generally don’t need to replace your car’s brake fluid regularly. Unlike all the other car fluids, brake fluid doesn’t burn through regular use. However, if you do see liquid remnants on the floor where you parked your car, it’s possible that it may be brake fluid. When that happens, you should have your car checked for leaks.
ATE TYP 200 Amber Brake Fluid
Designed to excel within the extreme demands made on a race vehicle or by high-performance drivers and exceeds all DOT4 standards. It is compatible with and will mix well with most DOT3, DOT4, or DOT 5.1 fluids.