What Color Is Brake Fluid? (3 Simple Steps To Check)

Michael Griskauskas

Does your brake fluid need to be changed? Your mechanic says “yes”, but you don’t know if it is necessary or not.

It might be time for you to perform a brake fluid flush whenever it begins to darken (It will be mentioned in part 1), or it is hard to push the brake pedal.

This article will help you examine the brake fluid’s color and when to replace it.

So if you want to know EXACTLY whether your brake fluid color is in good condition or not, you’ll love this post.

In today’s article, you’re going to learn:

Let’s get started!

What Color Is Brake Fluid?

What Color Should Brake Fluid Be?

You might be wondering, “What color is brake fluid supposed to be?” 

Well, brake fluids vary in color depending on the type of brake fluid you are using: 

  • Yellow (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5.1)
  • Blue (DOT 3, for racing cars only, unpopular)
  • Purple (DOT 5)
original brake fluid colors including DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5.1, and DOT 5
While DOT 5.1 often appears slightly purple, most of brake fluids like DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1 have a clear, yellow-tinged color.

But all you need to know is that new brake fluids should be clear in color like vegetable oil.

Related post: Best ABS OBD2 Scanners 2023 Review

What Color Should Brake Fluid Not Be?

As it ages, the brake fluid changes to a slightly darker color. 

To be clear: The fluid attracts moisture through the rubber brake lines and other permeable areas. The addition of the water will cause the brake fluid to become dirty and dark in color over time.

If you open your brake fluid reservoir someday and notice that the brake fluid turns dark brown or black, you’ll need to schedule a brake fluid flush and replacement.

Quickly identify what color your brake fluid should be with the below infographic.

brake fluid color change to dark
The color of brake fluid becomes darker over time, which is a sign that your brake fluid needs replacing.


Dirty color is a sign that there is a problem with your fluid. But in some cases, clear brake fluid doesn’t mean it is in good condition.

In fact, brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air. Although the fluid color is still clear, the excess water vapor will compromise how the brake fluid compresses. Eventually, it makes your brake lose the ability to stop.

Inspecting the brake fluid is not easy, but you don’t want to waste your time on it?

Buy a Brake Fluid Tester Pen for about $10 and check the percentage of water in the fluid.

And how easy is it to inspect brake fluid? 

Just dip the tester into the brake fluid reservoir, push the button, then read the result on the digital pen.

How to Check Brake Fluid Color

Checking the brake fluid is a simple process.

This is a simple process you can do it yourself to check the brake fluid color.
3 steps to check brake fluid color.
  1. First, locate the brake master cylinder reservoir near the firewall on the driver’s side, usually under the hood. 
  2. Next, clean and remove the cap.
  3. Then, check the color of the brake fluid. If the fluid is clear or amber, you are probably just fine. But if it is dark in color, you’ll need to schedule a brake fluid flush and replacement.

Just one more thing: If checking brake fluid color is not easy, just follow your manufacturer’s recommendations to replace your brake fluid regularly every two years or every 50,000 miles.

What Should You Do If Brake Fluid Is Dark?

If you notice the brake fluid looks especially dark while checking your brake fluid level or condition, performing a brake fluid flush and replacing it with a fresh one is a good idea. 

If not, dirty brake fluid will reduce the system’s ability to build pressure, which lowers your braking performance. 

PRO TIP: Make sure you change the brake fluid to the same type you have on the master cylinder capital (usually, DOT 3/ DOT 4).

Now let’s dive into the step-by-step process of changing the fluid brake with the video below:

Learn how to replace brake fluid by yourself (Saving $100 in 15 mins).

So yeah, that’s all you have to know about brake fluid color change. 

You may also want to find the answers for: 

  • Is it safe to drive with black brake fluid? 
  • What color is brake fluid when it leaks?

If so, scroll down to read our FAQs!


Can you drive with black brake fluid?

Of course, you can.

But you should consider flushing your brake fluid sooner rather than later. The longer you go, the greater the danger that contaminations will damage metal components in your braking system (especially the calipers).

What Color Is Brake Fluid When It Leaks?

If your brake fluid leaks, its color can be light yellow or dark brown, depending on how old your brake fluid is.

As I mentioned, the brake fluid color starts as clear, then gets progressively darker over time, and can end up dark brown or black if it’s not maintained. 

Is A Brake Fluid Leak Serious?

Brake fluid leaks are a severe problem and safety concern. If you suspect or discover a brake fluid leak, have it inspected and repaired immediately. 

Brake fluid leaks can result in low braking power or no brakes at all! Be sure to follow service information when repairing your braking system. 

Improper servicing can be extremely dangerous to you and anyone else on the road.


Now that you’ve read this post, you exactly know what a healthy brake fluid color is and when you need to replace it. 

So, what color is your brake fluid? Is that good or not?

Let me know your responses in the comments.

Learn more

How to Check Your Car’s Brake Fluid: An excellent video that guides the way to check the brake fluid.

Why Is My Vehicle Leaking Brake Fluid?: A well-written article to provide you with the causes of leaking brake fluid and how to fix it.

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