Regular car maintenance involves getting the brakes inspected as well as worked on. It’s what brings safety into the picture, right? But that’s not news to the ears. Instead what’s surprising is that not many people have any idea about the brake fluid their cars use. Let alone knowing the best brake fluid on the current market!
More often than not, we worry about the quality of gas and oil going into the vehicle. But we forget to apply the same rule to brake fluid. Not all brake fluids have the same properties. And the kind of formula you feed the brake system affects its performance in the long run.
With that in place, it’s time to get to know everything important about brake fluid. The first part consists of the reviews section. And the second part contains a very useful guide explaining the different aspects of brake fluid.
Best Brake Fluid: Top 10 Picks
Photo credit: yourmechanic.com
New brands and products come up on a daily basis. And there’s no reason to believe why the automotive industry is any different. So it becomes even more complicated to purchase high-quality equipment. That means your chances of buying the best brake fluid get minimized.
This is where you could use some expert advice. The reviews discussed below feature a detailed analysis of the most reliable brake fluid brands currently available on the consumer market.
Brake Fluid Name
ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid (Editor's Choice)
#1 Editor's Choice
1. ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid – The Best DOT 4 Brake Fluid for Motorcycles
Here’s what you’re dealing with when it comes to a brand name like ATE. They have developed a reputation for manufacturing top quality auto fluids and lubricants. The majority of their products on the current market offer a tough competition. And fortunately, the ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid is among them. Just like the other ATE creations, this one too protects your vehicle while also making its parts function better when driving.
I would also like to add that the pick at hand is the most suitable choice for European-made automobiles. But that doesn’t mean I’m limiting its use. It works exceptionally well on all brake systems. Without the shadow of a doubt!
Now here’s another quality worth noting. The formula consists of optimal wet/dry boiling point. Its water-binding properties are also quite remarkable. Given that they help in preventing vapor lock.
Having said which, the ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid serves everything high-performance. Including motorcycles!
There’s not one reason to like this particular fluid manufactured by ATE. You get access to as many as five. Exceptional water locking capability keeps the boiling point from dropping too low. The fluid doesn’t foam when bleeding and filling the braking system. The use of selected additives delivers the much-needed corrosion protection. Even the tolerance level against the steam bubbles screams high safety. And lastly, you don’t need to indulge in frequent brake fluid changes.
What I’m about to discuss is not an error made by ATE. I see it more as an unfortunate government restriction. Even so, it’s worth mentioning. The color of the formula is not blue. And that makes the process of monitoring full flushes a lot harder.
- The ATE fluid improves pedal feel.
- The increased boiling point offers peak performance.
- It is not harsh on paint in case of spilling.
- The quantity is too low.
- Not blue in color to make full flushes easier.
2. Castrol 12614 Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid – The Best DOT 4 Brake Fluid for High Temperature
Every best brake fluid article consists of at least two product listings by Castrol. Whereas this post has more than two! That’s how reliable and high-performing Castrol’s brake fluids are! So here’s the Castrol 12614 Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid; created to withstand the high temperature of braking systems.
The thing about advanced, newly released cars is that they require fluid that has the ability to match up to their high standards. A large amount of heat generated by rotors of new cars demands the use of high-tolerance brake fluid. And that’s exactly what you get with the current pick. (Common brake system issues)
The braking response that the Castrol 12614 Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid provides is more than just optimal. It guarantees road safety despite unforgiving surfaces or high speed. You can mix the formula with other DOT-rated fluids as well. It doesn’t give rise to incompatibility issues. Instead, the fluid provides smoother control and better response with every brake.
So for outstanding performance under high temperatures, you might want to check out the Castrol 12614 Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid.
If you want me to give you one solid reason to go for this particular brake fluid manufactured by Castrol, here it is. The liquid excels at reducing moisture. With such an action taking place, the chances of corrosion formation get eliminated. In other words, your braking system and its components last longer than you can imagine.
The Castrol 12614 Dot 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid meets the highest of the highest standards alright. But it’s due to this quality only that the formula shouldn’t land on any painted surface. It doesn’t react so well at such times.
- The Castrol fluid improves pedal feel.
- It reduces braking distance and increases braking response.
- Moisture absorption capacity is very low.
- It is highly corrosive on painted surfaces.
3. Motul DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid – The Best Affordable DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid
It’s time to discuss the highest-rated DOT 5.1 brake fluid, which coincidentally is also a budget-friendly pick. The Motul DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid works in all braking systems. It is among the very few liquids that have non-synthetic properties. But that doesn’t imply bad quality or poor performance. In fact, this best brake fluid is perfect for vehicles under normal weather and road conditions.
The thing that I like the most about the Motul DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid is its combination of high quality and low price tag. It’s because the majority of DOT 5.1 brake fluids, the good kind, are expensive. Even on this list. So it’s great to finally find a pick that’s priced more reasonably than the others.
Moving on, allow me to brag about the performance by asking you a question. Does your car demand high boiling temperature protection? If so, this is exactly what you should get. The absorption rate is also much lower compared to other Motul brake fluids.
It takes care of the large overheated brakes of trucks as well. Compatibility with DOT 4 and DOT 3 is not an issue either. And the same applies to daily car components. So you’re in for a smooth, flawless experience!
There’s no doubt about the fact that Motul manufactures high-quality brake fluids. In this particular case, the DOT 5.1 formula doesn’t fail at holding up to high temperatures like you would expect. Even though it’s one of the cheaper priced fluids!
Now let me tell you what happens to brake fluids when you open them up. Once the container seal is broken and the cap opened, the formula absorbs moisture present in the air. As a result of which it can go bad fairly quickly. So you might as well purchase limited quantity when you know you’re not going to use a lot of brake fluid at once. In that case, stay clear of the Motul DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid.
- The Motul fluid works well on high-performance vehicles.
- It tends to last for a very long time.
- Also suitable for the brakes of a mountain bike.
- The volume of the fluid inside the container is too high.
4. Pentosin 1204116 Super DOT 4 Brake Fluid – The Best Affordable DOT 4 Brake Fluid
Pentosin is another brand that offers inexpensive brake fluids. And the Pentosin 1204116 Super DOT 4 Brake Fluid is one of them. The formula is specifically created for high operating temperatures. Much like most options reviewed in the article!
But here’s something that might peak your interest. The Pentosin 1204116 Super DOT 4 Brake Fluid decreases the stopping distance like no other. Especially when you’re traveling at a speed that generates more brake heat! So that explains why it’s also considered to be the best DOT 4 brake fluid for motorcycles.
Moreover, the formula is an excellent choice for both foreign and domestic made vehicles. You’ll be quite taken aback by the thick consistency of the fluid. Such a characteristic resists water absorbency and penetration to a huge extent.
And the fact that the Pentosin 1204116 Super DOT 4 is not like the other brake fluids that are mass produced says a lot about its quality. So it’s all good in terms of performance and nature.
This quality-approved brake fluid by Pentosin is a great choice for the modern braking systems. Its resistance to retaining and absorbing water is the most talked about character. And why is that? Because such an action goes a long way in providing supreme corrosion resistance! So your braking system and its parts don’t get compromised along the process.
The sad part is the insufficient wet boiling point. When that’s the case, you can’t use the fluid to fill up your high-performance or racing car.
- The Pentosin fluid comes in an easy-to-pour container.
- Corrosion resistance capacity is quite impressive.
- It provides excellent vapor lock protection.
- The wet boiling point is not high enough
5. Castrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid – The Best Brake Fluid for Racing
If there’s any brake fluid that ranks the highest for motorsport applications, it’s this one right here. The Castrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid is manufactured to suit the extreme braking system requirements of motorsports. And the advanced formulation is the only logical explanation.
You’ll also be relieved to know it’ll be at least a year before you feel the need to change the fluid. What’s even better is the increased level of the useful dry boiling point. This is very practical when it comes to delivering high performance under strenuous conditions. Like that of race cars!
Compatibility is another huge plus provided that you use it on non-mineral systems of brakes. The safety standards are also well taken care of. And why wouldn’t they be when the manufacturer is none other than Castrol!
Aside from the impressive boiling point, there’s the superior protection against vapor lock as well that makes a significant impression. So if what you’re looking for is a fluid to support rallying and racing, you can put an end to the search now.
What’s to like about the Castrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid? The fact that, even at full dilution, the formula’s boiling point remains high. So you can use it for track events without having to flush it anytime soon.
What’s not to like is the lack of minimal water absorption. But that’s the thing about using brake fluids with a higher boiling point.
- The Castrol fluid lasts for longer than you can imagine.
- It doesn’t boil despite complete dilution.
- Consistent improvement in stopping power and pedal feel.
- Moisture absorption capacity is high.
Castrol Lubricants training with Autobarn - Brake Fluid
6. Prestone AS800Y DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid – The Best Brake Fluid for All Types of Drum, Disc, and ABS Systems
The remarkable DOT 4 brake fluid selections on the list seem to taking over the reviews section. So here’s another praiseworthy product by Prestone. It’s called the Prestone AS800Y DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid. And it boasts of handing out an optimally high level of protection against boiling.
Not many people know this or even care to find out that the formula contains polyglycol ethers. A mixture of such an element contributes to reducing vapor accumulation. And that is quite common in braking systems, isn’t it?
Furthermore, expect the pedal to become more efficient. Along with gaining extra control over brake handling!
If you think that’s all there is to know about the Prestone AS800Y DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid, you’re wrong. And I’m sure you’re glad to be wrong. To prevent system corrosion, the fluid consists of extensive inhibitor package.
In all, it’s an ideal pick for all types of ABS systems, including drum and disc.
What makes a brake fluid the best on the market? Keeping aside everything unimportant, it’s the protection of the boiling point. Having said that, don’t expect to face any disappointments in this particular department.
At the same time, the presence of the invaluable polyglycol ethers is another huge benefit. What it does is ensure that the system doesn’t create harmful vapor. So it’s a total win if you decide to buy the Prestone AS800Y DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid.
But it would be better if the company paid a little more attention to product packaging. In that case, you’re not dealing with any kind of a performance-hindering drawback here.
- The Prestone fluid eliminates the spongy pedal feel.
- Brake failure and fluid vaporization are greatly reduced.
- It is compatible with all ABS systems.
- Too less in quantity, too small in size.
- Poor packaging is a major flaw.
How to Change Your Brake Fluid?
7. MAG1 120 Premium DOT 3 Brake Fluid – The Best Affordable DOT 3 Brake Fluid
Why should you consider buying the MAG1 120 Premium DOT 3 Brake Fluid? I can provide you with three reasons; effectiveness, dependability, and affordability. The manufacturer is Mag 1, which means it’s a high-quality formula created to benefit your automobile. Under any circumstances!
The fluid’s dry boiling point is the one and only characteristic responsible for longevity. And isn’t that what we’re looking for in every best brake fluid! You won’t feel the need to replace it before at least two years. And that means minimal to zero maintenance costs. (Bleeding brakes the right way)
As far as safety goes, the brand surpasses all safety standards. In fact, the product even exceeds certain engineering specifications. In simple words, your braking system will remain in good condition no matter what. And to make it all even better, the price tag is budget-friendly.
The MAG1 120 Premium formula meets as well as exceeds all requirements associated with DOT 3 brake fluids. There’s nothing better than this when it comes to brake lubrication. You’ll even notice a significant improvement in the stopping power of your car.
Only for the sake of listing a drawback, I feel obliged to mention that the packaging is slightly on the weaker side. But that’s all there is to it.
- The MAG1 fluid comes in a large bottle.
- It is perfect for street applications.
- Packaging is poor.
8. Genuine Honda Fluid 08798-9008 DOT 3 Brake Fluid – The Best High-Performance DOT 3 Brake Fluid
The product name has the word “genuine” in it. And upon testing, that’s exactly what the performance looked like. The Genuine Honda Fluid 08798-9008 DOT 3 Brake Fluid is a top quality formula. The kind that you can rely on since its manufacturer is none other than Honda.
Let me give you some useful information now. This best brake fluid offers the highest temperature and moisture tolerance in the current industry. The invaluable boiling point is above 400 degrees. Unbeatable at the moment!
What’s that one common issue of all DOT 3 brake fluids? It’s their high water/moisture absorption capacity. Is that correct? But that’s something you need not worry about in this case. Because Honda has included some additives, which serve as excellent antioxidants! To prevent rust and corrosion like no other option discussed in the article.
The brand understands, better than anybody else, how important it is to protect your investment. And based on that, they manufacture fluids that you can select without feeling challenged or confused.
I’m not just going to tell you to buy the Genuine Honda Fluid 08798-9008 DOT 3 Brake Fluid. I’m also going to discuss the reasons to do so. And the most important one has a lot to do with the innovative technology that Honda makes use of. In this case, it’s the presence of additives in the formula. What such elements do is counter all negative reactions against the different materials. These are located in the system parts and reservoir. So what you’re obtaining, in the end, is longevity.
Here comes the negative feedback. If you want to buy brake fluid to perform a total system flush, you’re better off with something else. It’s because the quantity present in this bottle is not enough for the job.
- The Honda fluid is of the highest quality.
- It ensures longer life of your car’s braking system.
- The volume is not enough for a complete flush.
9. Motul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot 4 Brake Fluid – The Best DOT 4 Brake Fluid for Racing
Some clutch systems and hydraulic brakes require synthetic fluid with a non-silicone base. If that’s what you’re dealing with, nothing fits the bill more than this particular option. The Motul RBF 600 Dot 4 Brake Fluid is specifically created to serve such a purpose. Plus, it’s a highly recommended product due to the high-quality of the formula.
But how is it an excellent choice for racing? The fluid can tolerate extreme temperatures. Thanks to the high wet and dry boiling point. So you can use it to fill up your racing clutch and hydraulic systems.
Along the same parallel, the increased level of wet boiling point is suitable for conditions like heavy rain. As a result of this, water absorption reduces to a large extent. And the outcome of that is less moisture in your brake system. So the components present inside are well-protected against corrosion. In fact, the optimal wet boiling point also takes care of vapor lock.
So if you want access to smooth, error-free braking experience, there’s no need to look any further.
Not many non-silicone based synthetic brake fluids perform as exceptionally as this pick. The formula is designed for nothing but high-temperature resistance. This kind of superior thermal resistance is the result of the generous boiling point.
Unfortunately, there’s bad news that might even seem like a deal-breaker. The product I’m currently reviewing fails at enhancing pedal feel. So if the pedal feels spongy, it’s going to remain that way even after using the formula.
- The Motul fluid enables effective brake.
- Even under extreme circumstances, it exceeds standards/expectations.
- Thermal resistance capacity is quite high.
- It does nothing to improve pedal feel.
10. Castrol 12509 Dot 4 Brake Fluid – The Bonus Pick
After reviewing as many as three Castrol brake fluids, what makes you think that the final pick is going to be any different! Yet another best brake fluid by the renowned industrial and automotive lubricant manufacturing brand. It’s the Castrol 12509 Dot 4 Brake Fluid. You can use the formula to service your sports car, supercar, or formula one.
The fluid meets all safety and standard requirements. You can even fill your superbike with this powerful juice. And you have nothing but the special formulation to hold responsible for such high performance.
The invaluable boiling point is pretty high to handle burdensome braking. That’s good news if you’re a racer! Then comes the increased protection against vapor lock. Soon followed by the miscible nature of the formula with conventional fuels. The last part, in particular, enhances the changing process of braking systems.
You’ll also breathe a sigh of relief after knowing that this best brake fluid is incredibly friendly to different materials. That implies no harm or damage to metal components, rubber seals, etc. within that braking system. Also a part of the experience is convenient bleeding.
So you can’t go wrong with this or any other Castrol-manufactured brake fluid.
What’s so unique about this best brake fluid? The formula is well-engineered to deliver outstanding performance. And the truth lies in the liquid’s ability to work with high braking system temperatures.
The one noteworthy complaint I have is the absence of a good pedal feel. When using the best brake fluid, you inevitably expect it to have a huge impact on that particular aspect. But, sadly, that’s not the case here.
- The Castrol fluid provides an optimal braking response.
- Compatibility with other fluids is not a concern.
- It slows down the process of moisture contamination.
- Pedal feel is a bit lacking.
Introduction to the Best Brake Fluid
Photo credit: speedwaymotors.com
The connection between liquids and cars is not only important but necessary too. Be it oil and gas to get the engine to run smoothly. Or coolant to prevent the car from heating up excessively. Or the best brake fluid to avoid potential brake system failure.
What happens when you brake? The mechanism generates heat, right? So to rule out the possibility of overheating and likely brake failure, your car requires brake fluid. It keeps all the parts in there cool. While also making sure that those brakes function seamlessly. In fact, brake fluid helps with lubrication as well. And that, in turn, prevents corrosion.
So using the best brake fluid means doing everything in your power to ensure that the system runs safely and smoothly.
How Do Brake Fluids Work?
Photo credit: yourmechanic.com
The braking system of every car contains a hydraulic fluid. Upon pressing the pedal of the brake, the liquid flows into a cylinder before reaching down to the metal or rubber pipes. This is where the wheel cylinders and brake calipers are located. And they are responsible for actuating the brakes.
The fluid initiates the transfer between the pedal force and brake caliper since it cannot be subjected to compression. As a result of which it provides a consistent and solid pedal feel.
How to Check Your Car's Brake Fluid?
Moving on, let’s find out how brake fluids can generate brake fade.
How Do Brake Fluids Lead To Brake Fade?
Photo credit: trackdays.ie
Brake fluids are glycol-based, meaning they have hygroscopic properties. In simple words, they absorb moisture present in the atmosphere. So it doesn’t sound like a surprise to know that, over a period of time, the formula can also absorb water through the pervious walls of the rubber equipped brake hoses. And the water absorption is not minimal; brake fluids have the ability to absorb moisture as much as 13 percent of their total weight. Over a span of two years!
Now let’s try to understand the reasons as to why this moisture absorption is bad for the braking system. You cannot compress fluids, right? On the other hand, gasses can be subjected to compression.
When the used brake fluid takes in water, the brakes tend to get hot. So when the temperature rises over 100 degrees Celsius, the water turns to steam. And that, in turn, turns to gas, which is susceptible to compression. So at such times, the soft pedal feel is a result of your foot performing the compression action.
More often than not, road car owners neglect the importance of brake fluid and the overall braking system. That means older vehicles have a lesser chance of being filled with fresh brake fluid. And this affects the performance of the invaluable braking system on track.
Understanding Dry Boiling Point and Wet Boiling Point
Photo credit: schutzenprotection.com
Brake fluids have a wet/dry boiling point stated in their specifications. The dry boiling point rating is for fresh fluid while wet is applicable for saturated fluid.
When brakes bleed frequently, it’s the dry boiling point that matters the most. But the wet boiling point is more crucial if you’re in the habit of not changing the fluid as often as you should.
Another thing to keep in mind is that motorsport demands a higher brake fluid boiling point charge. And this is the major topic of discussion and distinction when it comes to racing brake fluid vs regular brake fluid.
Difference Between DOT 5.1, DOT 5, DOT 4, and DOT 3 Brake Fluids
Photo credit: quakerstate.com
Department of Transportation; that’s the full form of DOT. And it’s this particular entity that sets the standards for the best brake liquid. DOT 5.1, DOT 4, and DOT 3 are glycol-based formulas. And the primary difference between them is associated with their brake fluid boiling point charge.
The minimum wet and dry boiling points are what DOT fluid manufacturers have to keep in mind to meet the required standards. These are nothing but minimum temperatures the liquid performs at prior to boiling, which tends to result in brake failure.
Here’s a chart listing the standard temperature level of the different brake fluids and their
Dry Boiling Point
Wet Boiling Point
DOT 5.1 fluid
270 degrees Celsius
190 degree Celsius
DOT 5 fluid
260 degrees Celsius
190 degree Celsius
DOT 4 fluid
230 degree Celsius
155 degree Celsius
DOT 3 fluid
205 degree Celsius
140 degree Celsius
Now you should also know that DOT 5.1, DOT 4, and DOT 3 are all compatible together. Thanks to their glycol-based nature. So you can mix them without causing any harm to the braking system. The only thing to remember is that DOT 5 is the odd one as it has a silicone base. So avoid mixing it with other glycol-based DOT formulas.
I would also like to bring another popular misconception to your notice. That DOT 4 is not compatible with DOT 5.1 and vice versa. You don’t have to flush out your DOT 4 system when upgrading it to DOT 5.1.
My goal was to provide you with a better understanding of the best brake fluid. It’s because not all formulas have the same qualities. So it’s important to know the difference between brands and their creations. Brakes are not to be neglected; you should keep that in mind too.
With the same perspective, your braking system demands a high-quality, long-lasting formula. Such as the ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 DOT 4 Brake Fluid. Its remarkable water locking ability doesn’t decrease the invaluable boiling point to a great degree. The liquid is non-foaming during the bleeding and filling process. Even corrosion protection is a part of the deal. Thanks to the use of selected additives by ATE.
With a high tolerance level for safety and infrequent changes, this best brake fluid exceeds all expectations. In practical terms, it’s also ranked as the best DOT 4 brake fluid for motorcycles.