5 Symptoms Of A Brake Fluid Leak (& Repair Cost)
There’s no questioning that there are few components more critical to your vehicle than the brakes. That’s why you might be surprised to learn that you can’t always trust your vehicle to tell you if there’s a problem with the brake system.
A leaky brake system can make this even worse. Worse, a tiny leak could quickly turn into an entire blowout.
What can you do to repair a leaky brake system? We’ll break down everything you need to know here.
- Five Brake Fluid Leakage Symptoms
- How to diagnose a brake fluid leak
- The repair costs to replace a Brake Fluid Leak
- Commonly Asked Questions
Five Brake Fluid Leakage Symptoms
A sinking or squishy brake pedal is the most obvious sign of brake fluid leakage. It is important to immediately fix any signs of a brake fluid leak.
Two of the most common symptoms for a brake fluid crisis are:
While these are the most common signs, it’s not all of them! Below is a list that explains the symptoms most commonly associated with a brake fluid leak.
Squishy Brake Peddle
Any time there’s air in the system, you’re going to have a brake pedal that feels squishy. When you have a brake fluid leak, you’re not just losing brake fluid every time you press the brakes, but you’re also sucking in air every time you let off the pedal.
If you’re pressing the brakes and it doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it and hope it goes away. Figure out what’s going on and make the necessary repairs straight away.
The Brake Pedal is not under pressure
When you press the brake pedal, you should feel something – if it sinks straight to the floor, you have a problem. Although there are many possible causes, it is likely that your car has a large brake fluid leak.
Whatever you do, don’t drive your vehicle. If you don’t feel any pressure when you hit the brake pedal, you currently don’t have any brakes – which means you won’t be able to stop as your driving.
Poor Braking Performance
If your brake fluid is leaking, this could be the first sign you see. After a set distance, the brakes should stop. But when your brake system has a leak, you’re not getting maximum braking pressure – some of that pressure is escaping out through the leak.
Moreover, you’re getting air and moisture in the system, which is negatively impacting your braking performance too. Add it all up, and you get a dangerous condition where your vehicle can’t stop like you’re expecting it to.
Visible Fluid Leak
A leak in your vehicle means the fluid is moving somewhere. You have a visible fluid leak in your brakes. It is difficult to locate brake fluid leakages. The fluid itself is mostly transparent, and there’s not that much brake fluid in the system to begin with.
It’s not like oil or coolant leaks that you’ll likely notice by simply looking underneath your vehicle. Breat fluid leaks are something you should look out for, and you will need to fix it immediately.
Warning light on brakes
While you might expect that the brake warning light would pop on any time, you have a brake fluid leak, and the sad truth is that it doesn’t always work that way.
If the fluid level is low, the brake warning light will be activated. This feature is not available on all cars. If you experience a large leak you may have issues before fluid runs dry.
But even small brake fluid leaks mean big problems, so you can’t rely solely on your brake warning light to keep you safe.
How to diagnose a brake fluid leak
A visual inspection of the brake fluid reservoir is the best way to determine if there has been a leak. Before inspecting other components, you should begin with the reservoir.
While the brake fluid system is sealed, that doesn’t mean that anytime you see the fluid level in the reservoir drop, you have a problem. That’s because as the pistons in the brake calipers expand, the overall brake fluid level will drop too.
But this drop should be gradual – and you should always have some brake fluid there. Because of this, monitoring the brake fluid level is one of the best ways to make sure your vehicle doesn’t have a leak. If you know how quickly the brake fluid should drop, you’ll have a better idea of what an abnormal drop looks like.
You can then inspect every component of the brake system visually. It includes everything, from the mastercylinder to each of the brake calipers. You might need to jack up your vehicle to trace all the brake lines, but it’s worth it.
A brake leak will show up. You will be able to see if your vehicle has a brake leak by checking the temperature and pumping the brakes several times before you begin.
The repair costs to replace a Brake Fluid Leak
Average brake fluid leak repairs cost between $150-$1000 While that’s a vast range, it’s because there is a wide array of causes of a brake fluid leak.
A brake replacement cost can range from $150- $200. While a brake booster cost could run from $600-$800, it is possible to get a new brake line for as little as $505.
Complicating the matter, even more, there’s no one cause that’s significantly more common than the rest. You might notice rusted brake lines in areas with salty roads or near the coast, and other drivers may find they have to change the master cylinder less often.
You may be unable to eliminate the cost of labor because certain jobs can be more challenging than others. As an example, if you need to replace a brake line and can’t find the OEM replacement, the repair shop may need to make it. You likely don’t have the tools for this, even if you have the necessary expertise.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is it possible to drive with brake fluid leaking?
A brake fluid leak should be avoided. A brake fluid leak can result in the complete loss of your car’s braking ability, which is life-threatening for both you and other people on the road.
How can you stop brake fluid from leaking?
You must replace the leaky part or repair it to stop brake fluid from leaking. You should not use an anti-leakage agent for your brakes. All work on the car’s hydraulic brake system should be carried out by a professional to prevent accidents.
Can brakes work with out fluid?
Your brakes won't work if you don't have brake fluid. The operation of your brakes depends on the fluid. Brake fluid provides pressure that activates the brake pads, calipers and stops the car. If you don’t have any brake fluid in your system, your brakes will not be able to function properly.
Is it possible to mix brake fluids from different years?
It is fine to mix the old brake fluid with new fluid if you are only refilling your brake fluid. Although it's better to completely replace your brake fluid, in most cases this is unnecessary. You should only use brake fluid that is compatible with your car's specifications.
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