How To Pick The Right Brake Fluid For Your Car

Blog Feature

BMW M2 BrakeWith so many different types of brake fluid, how do you know what's best for your car? We're here to explain it all. 

It seems like it may be the easiest to describe the fluid types that are used in our braking systems. Arguably it is the most important fluid that our cars carry. Without it you would not be able to stop.

Generally all brake fluid types have a service life. This is true for DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1 as they are glycol based. They absorb moisture and should be replaced every 1-2 years under normal use. DOT 5 brake fluid is a silicone based fluid and does not absorb moisture, technically it can be used indefinitely.

All Glycol based brake fluids are compatible with each other. It is not advisable however to use what was not specified by the manufacturer.

DOT 3:
This is a brake fluid you will find in most day to day cars, Toyotas, Hondas, Fords, GM, essentially cars that will not be driven hard enough to exceed the fluid’s performance capacity.
We do not sell DOT 3 brake fluid.

DOT 4:
This brake fluid can be found in most European cars on the road today. This fluid is also found in virtually racing applications.

DOT 5:
This brake fluid was designed for military applications. Cars and trucks that sit for extended periods of time need to be able to function properly with minimal maintenance.
We do not sell DOT 5 brake fluid.

  Dry boiling point Wet boiling point Main ingredient
DOT 3 205 °C (401 °F) 140 °C (284 °F) Glycol ether
DOT 4 230 °C (446 °F) 155 °C (311 °F) Glycol ether/Borate ester
DOT 5 260 °C (500 °F) 180 °C (356 °F) Silicone
DOT 5.1 260 °C (500 °F) 180 °C (356 °F) Glycol ether/Borate ester

Some of the most popular options that we offer are listed below:

  Dry boiling point Wet boiling point Link to product
Motul RBF 660
(Track)
325 °C (617 °F) 204 °C (400 °F) MOTUL RBF 660
Motul RBF 600
(Track/AutoX/ HPDE)
312 °C (594 °F) 216 °C (421 °F) MOTUL RBF 600
ATE Type 200
(Daily/AutoX/Light Track)
280 °C (536 °F) 198 °C (388 °F) ATE Type 200
Pentosin Super DOT4
(Daily/AutoX)
265 °C (509 °F) 165 °C (329 °F) Pentosin Super DOT4
BMW Brake Fluid
(Daily)
265 °C (509 °F) 170 °C (338 °F) BMW Brake Fluid
ATE SL.6
(Low Viscosity) (Daily)
265 °C (509 °F) 175 °C (347 °F) ATE SL.6
Pentosin DOT4 LV
(Daily)
265 °C (509 °F) 170 °C (338 °F) Pentosin DOT 4 LV
Rowe DOT4 LV
(Daily)
260 °C (500 °F) 170 °C (338 °F) Rowe DOT4 LV

 

As with almost anything in life more is better. The same holds true for the key numbers associated with brake fluid. The higher your boiling points the better. Keep in mind to select the fluid that works best for your application and style of driving.

If you daily drive your car chances are you need something close to what the original spec was. Most fluids that we sell meet or exceed factory specs. These fluids have a 2 year life span when used on the street.

If you are tracking your vehicle or it sees performance events we have higher capacity fluids. These fluids work better and longer under high stress and high loads. They are as a result more expensive. It is suggested to replace the fluid once the fluid over heats and begins to fade or once every 90 days. Most sanctions that hold events require at most 90 days since the brake fluid was changed prior to participating.

Low Viscosity Brake Fluid:

This type of fluid is called for in newer European cars to aid in ABS, ESP, and TCS system performance. Essentially it is a thinner fluid which allows to be circulated through the ABS system faster. It does not last any longer however and the performance gains are marginal. They can be mixed with non Low Viscosity (LV) fluids however topping off with non LV brake fluid should not be done as it brings down the effectiveness of the LV fluid.

Auto makers that call for LV fluid from the factory:

  • Audi (2006 on)
  • BMW (7/2002 on)
  • MINI (all years)
  • Saab (all years)
  • Volkswagen (2006 on)

Auto makers that call for regular Non-LV fluid from the factory:

Again DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 brake fluids can be substituted but need to be flushed completely. It all depends on your driving habits and what the car is used for.

You can also purchase a very useful tool that will inform you of the condition of your brake fluid. It is a brake fluid tester and can be found here.

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