Brake fluid leaks may pose a little challenge sometimes.
First, there could be more than one reason why the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir is low: You likely need to replace some worn out brake pads or shoes, or a worn out or damaged component is causing a gradual leak.
Further, leaks will also happen internally, and you can’t just tell by checking the reservoir. For example, a worn out component inside the master cylinder may cause fluid to flow from one chamber to the next without you being able to notice.
Either way, you still need to check the system at the first sign of trouble. You can do a preliminary inspection at home, in your own garage. Get it to an accredited service centre, too. The sooner the better.
The first thing is that as your brake pads wear out, the calliper piston will be gradually pushed out of its housing. This keeps it right next to the brake pads so the pads will contact the brake rotor very quickly when the pedal is pushed. The result of this is that the fluid level will go down slightly over time (it is being used to fill the braking system).
Whenever you replace your brake pads, be sure to top up your brake fluid all the way to the full mark. As your pads wear the fluid level will get down closer to the “low” mark. If it has been a long time since your last brake job then you might have low brake fluid simply because it is being used in your braking system. This is one of the common causes of low brake fluid levels.
The second most common cause of low brake fluid is a leak. A brake fluid leak is a much more serious concern.
If you don’t find out where it is leaking and fix the problem, then you could end up running the brake system dry. The end result is this: When you step on the brakes, the pedal will go all the way to the floor but it will not stop the car. Brake fluid leaks are not something to “worry about later”. The safety of you and whoever else rides in your car is at stake.
When the car is parked, it should be relatively easy to locate the general area that is the source of the leak (like whether it’s coming from the master cylinder or if not, which wheel it’s coming from).
Once you’ve located the general area, you should be able to place some newspapers on the ground around the leak then pump the car’s brakes a few times to force fluid out through the leak. Then take a look at the area underneath the car to try and pinpoint the leak. You may or may not be able to find the exact location of the leak. Look for dark stains caused by the hydraulic oil, and try to see if you can find where the fluid is actually dripping from. If the leak is coming from within the wheel, you may need to remove it so that you can get a good look at the lines and callipers.
Assessing the leak’s severity will give you a good idea if the car is safe to drive. Any brake fluid leak should be repaired as soon as possible, but some leaks are worse than others. If your car is leaking more than just a drop or two at a time, it’s probably not a good idea to drive it. Larger leaks will compromise hydraulic pressure and cause your brakes to fail.
Should I Have My Brake Fluid Leak Inspected?
If you fear that your vehicle is leaking brake fluid, you should definitely take it to a trusted, accredited service centre for an inspection. However, there are some checks you can make yourself first. Step on the brake pedal. If it is mushy or doesn’t offer any resistance before sinking to the floor, pump it several times to build up pressure. If no pressure builds, you could be looking at a serious leak. When you schedule an appointment with the service technicians, they will determine where the fluid is leaking from.
Brake problems such as leaking fluid should be taken seriously. It is much better to simply replace a failing part than posing a safety risk.
Source credits: http://www.myautorepairadvice.com/low-brake-fluid.html
Cover Image Credit: Car From Japan