Choosing a good brake fluid is vital both to the driver of the vehicle and to the vehicle itself. Brake fluid plays a crucial role in operating the vehicle as it provides the essential transfer of the braking power exerted by the user on the brake pedal to the wheels.
Making a brake fluid comparison means taking into consideration the properties of the braking fluid (brake fluid temperature at various road and weather conditions, brake fluid boiling points, etc.) while maintaining personal considerations (brake fluids that will make the car perform better, fluids that prolong vehicle life, or fluids that barely comply within the set standards of the government).
To maintain a vehicle engine, it is advisable to change the brake fluid once every 2 to 3 years. Other than determining the best brake fluid type, it is also essential to observe the proper schedule of maintaining the engine as the fluid can deteriorate over time. In this article, we will provide the proper DIY fluid maintenance that will help and guide you.
Best Brake Fluid Reviews
1. Mag1 120 Premium DOT 3
- Part number: 120
- Package Weight: 1.061 kilograms
- Package Dimensions: 8.991 L x 22.402 H x 8.991 W (centimeters)
- Included components: MAG1 120 Premium DOT 3 Brake Fluid - 32 oz.
Mag1 120 Premium DOT 3 provides the user with a product that exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 116. It is rated 4.8 by users due to its affordability and dependability. It provides the consumer a 2-year margin of replacement that makes it cost-effective in the long run.
Customers review it positively with notes of its accessibility in the market (the product readily available anytime, anywhere), which is particularly handy if you are experiencing a sudden leak in the brake pipes.
They also note of its high boiling point – around 494 degrees Fahrenheit – way exceeding the normal 401 degrees Fahrenheit dry boiling point temperature for a typical DOT 3-compliant brake fluid. This is vital in keeping the fluid from turning into gas that is, by nature, more compressible than the fluid, thereby affecting performance.
If you are looking for a relatively cheap and reliable DOT 3 brake fluid that has a higher tolerance to high temperatures than the average DOT 3s and the capacity to keep the brakes in good shape through lubrication, you have MAG1 120 Premium to go.
2. Pentosin Super Dot 4 Brake Fluid
- Pentosin Super DOT 4 is a brake fluid of superior quality for universal use in modern brake systems and ideal for vehicles with ABS systems
- Super DOT 4 offers safety against vapor lock, with excellent resistance to absorbing and retaining water, while providing superior corrosion resistance
- Pentosin Super DOT 4 brake fluid can be used in ALL vehicles that require DOT 4 fluid; 1 liter bottle - sold individually
- OE Reference Numbers: Audi/Volkswagen: B 000 700 A1, B 000 700 A3, B 000 700 A6; BMW/Mini: 81 22 9 407 510, 81 22 9 407 511, 81 22 9 407 512, 81 22 9 407 513; Land Rover: LRNDOT4; Mercedes-Benz: 000 989 08 07 10, 000 989 08 07 11, 000 989 08 07 19
- OE Reference Numbers (Continued): Porsche: 000 043 203 66, 000 043 203 67, 000 043 305 52
Pentosin 1204116 Super Dot 4 brake fluid is noteable for its high resistance to absorbing and retaining water. Its excellent hygroscopic properties – the ability to absorb moisture through the pipes, hoses, and joints that it lubricates – made it earn a 5-star rating among its users. The product is also known for its suitability to vehicles employing ABS (anti-lock braking system).
Customers noted the product as being worthy of its price especially in its adaptability to humid and dry environments. Even after use in humid territories, it shows that it is still serviceable after 2 years. They also took note of its color, which makes it look reliable even after heavy usage.
Pentosin Super Dot 4, as compared to DOT 4 LV (Low Viscosity), is also considered a more general-purpose brake fluid, which makes it more useable in many cases such as in flushing your power steering fluid system – a necessary process in ensuring the safe consumption of brake fluid.
If you are looking for a reliable DOT4-compliant general-purpose brake fluid, while maintaining a vehicle during rough drives in humid or drier environments, Pentosin might come in handy.
3. ATE Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid
- Minimal decrease of boiling point due to excellent water locking properties
- Non-foaming when filling and bleeding the brake system
- Excellent corrosion protection due to selected additives
- High safety tolerance against steam bubbles
- Makes brake fluid changing intervals of up to 3 years possible
Users rate ATE TYP 200 dot 4 as the best dot 4 brake fluid in the market due to its minimal drop in boiling temperature when wet. It is a high-performance dot 4 brake fluid that meets both the SAE J1703 and FMVSS 116 DOT 4 standards, all for the cost of less than 20 dollars. Its dry boiling point reaches 536 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can only go down to a minimum of 374 degrees Fahrenheit – not bad for a dot 4.
It is rated 4.8 by more than a hundred reviewers due to its useability with high-end vehicles such as BMW and Honda. It can retain its hydraulic pressure even after 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes for a very comfortable ride. It is considered a “racing” brake fluid, so it is designed to excel within the extreme demands made on a race vehicle or by high-performance drivers and exceeds all DOT4 standards. Because it is under the dot 4 standards, it typically has a longer life span than most DOT3s and some dot 4 – dot 3 hybrids.
ATE TYP 200 DOT 4 is a law-compliant dot 4 brake fluid that is compatible with mixing into other DOT3s, DOT 4s, and DOT 5.1s and is a high-performance fluid that ensures that the worth of your money comes to its temperature-resistant properties typical of a professional racing brake fluid.
4. Castrol Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid
- Exceeds DOT 3 and DOT 4 and all leading auto manufacturers' requirements
- Unique low moisture activity formulation provides maximum wet boiling point protection
- Recommended for all anti-lock braking systems, hydraulic drum and disc braking systems and hydraulic clutches requiring DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid
- Exceeds DOT 3 and DOT 4
Meanwhile, the Castrol DOT 4 offers a unique competitive advantage. Its formulation actually protects your vehicle’s braking system parts from chloride and zinc corrosions. It also exceeds most of DOT 3 and DOT 4’s set of standards and requirements, making it far more worthy of the money the consumer will spend on purchasing it. Its unique Low Moisture Activity (LMA) formulation provides maximum protection against vapor lock brake failure especially in hotter environment that induces water vapor on the brake fluid.
Users take regard of the 4.7 rated product as an effective substitute to more expensive brands of super-premium fluids. It is dependable in cases such as when the vehicle uses rubber tubings in its braking system, or when the vehicle has a braking system similar to Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo, Honda, Acura, and many others. The fluid can also maintain a hgher boiling point than conventional DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluids.
If you want a product that exceeds specifications SAE 1703, SAE 1704, ISO 4925, JIS K2233, and FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3 and DOT 4, or a product that is comparable to racing car brake fluid, all while maintaining a reasonable budget to spend – you have the genius of Castrol DOT 4 synthetic brake fluid.
5. Motul Brake Fluid, DOT 5.1
- In accordance with DOT 5. 1, DOT 4 and DOT 3 manufacturers recommendations
- Brake fluid
- 100% synthetic
Finally, the Motul Brake fluid DOT 5.1 offers a competitive advantage that is in accordance with DOT 5.1, DOT 4, and DOT 3 manufacturers’ recommendations. The polyglycol-based formulation far exceeds typical DOT 3 or DOT 4 standard. It has lower viscosity than DOT 3 or 4 brake fluids that allows the fluid to circulate in micro-valves of anti-locking systems, as what it was specifically made to address. It is mixable with DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 brake fluids but not with DOT 5 silicone-based or mineral-based fluid.
Users rate with a perfect 5, which is understandable as it is a more advanced upgrade on DOT 3 and 4 fluid. Although it has to be changed frequently, it is best for one-time usage especially in performances and competitions, as it is extremely hygroscopic. It can only be used within one year but it offers a higher boiling temperature than other brands – ranging from 365–522 degrees Fahrenheit wet-to-dry boiling temperatures.
If you are looking for a performance brake fluid for professional/leisure purposes, the Motul DOT 5.1 is the most handy option available in the market.
Brake Fluid Buying Guide
The brake fluid is the most crucial entity in a braking system. It actually is detrimental to the safety of the passengers and drivers in a vehicle, as the non-replacement of old/non-functional fluids can cause brake failures on the road.
The life span of brake fluid is a function of its formulation, which is why the consumers should choose the most appropriate brand that suits the particular needs of their vehicle. This article will discuss more about the factors the users have to consider in choosing the right brand for their braking system.
Types of Brake Fluid
- DOT 3 – this type of brake fluid enables the user to use a DOT-compliant brake fluid at the lowest cost available in the market. It is Glycol Ether-based, which makes its boiling point higher than normal but is relatively lower than those of the DOT 4 and DOT 5. Motorists and drivers prefer DOT 3 for compliance and for emergency purposes rather than for its brand and quality.
- DOT 4 – this brake fluid has better properties than that of most DOT 3s, but it absorbs water faster than the latter. Extra care should be taken when opening the packaging of a DOT 4 fluid in order to prevent it from absorbing the moisture of the open environment. Other than that, it is considered as a racing brake fluid and can either be Glycol Ether or Borate Ester based. Dry boiling point starts at 446 degrees Fahrenheit.
- DOT 5.1 – The exceptional quality of a DOT 5.1-compliant brake fluid is that it does not absorb water. Its hydrophobic properties make it less prone to cause corrosion in the braking systems of the vehicle, but extra care should be taken when using the fluid. When pouring, the user has to be very wary of the bubble formation, as it could cause the induction of gas in the formulation. When the vehicle is also not frequently used, try bleeding the fluid regularly.
To make the most out of your budget, extra care should be taken when purchasing the brake fluid. Is the brand reliable? Does it fit the purpose of the vehicle? Will the travel or the braking system be difficult to handle? Every major consideration should be well thought of because other than price efficiency, safety is the primary concern in selecting the proper brake fluid.
- Suitability to Vehicle – cars demand different types of brake fluid, depending on its year of production, its brand, its country of origin, and its parts. Some old units demand DOT 3 as its brake fluid. Others, including professional vehicles like Formula 1 demand high-end brake fluid. You must always consult the product providers or your vehicle manufacturers on what brake fluid should be used, as it will be important in the car’s performance and in it’s maintenance.
- Customer Reviews – reviews online and feedback from previous customers should also be your basis in determining what brand/type of brake fluid you should purchase. Getting feedback should cover topics such as what effects does the fluid bring to the engine of the vehicle and how it affects the overall performance of the car. It will also give you an idea on which products are easily accessible in the market.
- Purpose of Vehicle Use – some drivers use their vehicle for leisure purposes. Others use it in a daily basis. Those who drive in an environment that is generally humid and hot needs high performance brake fluid while those that drive in a relatively fair climate can use an average fluid. Determining the purpose of the vehicle is crucial and not optional to choosing your next brake fluid as some high-performance brake fluid demand regular bleeding and changing. Using the wrong type of brake fluid might cost you the life of your vehicle or might even compromise your safety.
- Price vs. Quality – When purchasing fluid brakes, it is very necessary to determine your budget capability. This will also determine what brand you should go for that will both suit your quality demand and financial capability. Take note, however, that brake fluid is not a generic product. One DOT 3 or DOT 4 might not be able to tolerate the same moisture content that another one can do. Depending on your budget limit, you can choose the type of quality that a particular brand can provide – from its boiling point to its corrosion prevention capabilities.
This portion includes the dos, don’ts, and other tips the user must know in order to maximize the use of the purchased brake fluid. This will help you determine the steps that needs to be given more attention if you opt to change your brake fluid by yourself.
- Make sure that no air will be incorporated into the brake fluid in the process of bleeding or flushing. When gas gets into the system, it will make the brake slightly inefficient. Make sure that no water gets into the system as well, as the water has a lower boiling point than a typical DOT 3/ DOT 4/DOT 5.1 brake fluid. You can do these measures by pouring the fluid slower so as not to induce bubbles to the system, and by making sure that you use a dry funnel/tube during the process.
- Always use the appropriate brake fluid. Some manufacturers put in their product manual the type of brake fluid compatible to the vehicle. A typical vehicle needs a DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid.
- Wipe the reservoir with a clean rag. This is to ensure that no debris or water content will get into the reservoir, or no corrosive brake fluid will get into your skin. It is dangerous to leave the material in contact with your skin for too long.
- Always observe safety measures. Simple measures such as not leaving the reservoir uncapped while the vehicle’s brake is depressed will help you prevent spillage and contamination. You may want to consult your manual on how to deal with your engine. It is also worthy to remember that draining and replacing brake fluid is a two-man job, so you may want to contact a partner before starting the whole process.
To sum it all up, choosing the best brake fluid is a tedious process but is something that should always be observed. The quality of the brake fluid determines the performance of the vehicle and its effect on the vehicle itself. However, quality should not be the sole basis of your brake fluid comparison.
Some have an edge over the other due to its price or its suitability of use. In selecting between DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid, for example, you might want to consider which has the least price among the brands being considered, or the brand that will last the purpose of your travel.
You should also observe some criteria in choosing the brand for your intended purposes. This, including the proper observation of the steps in changing your brake fluid, is equally essential to the determination of the performance of the brake fluid – similar to the brand’s properties and to the standard it complies with.