Should I Open Brake Fluid Reservoir When Changing Brakes?

If you are new to car repair, you might have several questions. For example: Should I open brake fluid reservoir when changing brakes? When should I replace brake fluid? We will answer some of these in the article below

Suppose you are changing the brakes on your vehicle and doing it for the first time. Then it is very natural that you will experience some difficulties and have lots of doubts. A common question that comes into people’s minds is whether they should open the brake fluid reservoir when changing the brakes. 

The correct answer to this query is yes, and you should open the brake fluid reservoir while changing the brakes. This is because the newer pads you would install will be significantly thicker than your previous ones. Due to the thickness, these pads will push the fluid back into the reservoir. When you add the pistons back, you’ll need to remove the brake fluid reservoir cap. If you don’t remove the lid, the brake fluid will overflow.


Should I Open Brake Fluid Reservoir When Changing Brakes


We will further talk about the brake fluid reservoir and changing brakes in this article. 

How To Check The Brake Fluid? 

Before you start changing the brakes, the first thing is to check the brake fluid in the car. You will immediately get an idea about the vehicle’s quality and performance by limiting the brake fluid. 

Open the car’s hood

The first step to checking your brake fluid level is to open the brake fluid reservoir. Before you open the pool, you will need to open your vehicle’s hood first. 

Look behind your engine

The brake fluid reservoir is mainly placed near the rear of the engine. The color or the condition of the brake fluid is light and close to transparent. There is a particular container for storing the brake fluid near the pedals. 

Look at the brake fluid marker

Most vehicles use a translucent reservoir for storing the brake fluid. This reservoir will show the brake fluid level as it also has some markings. You can even see the status of the liquid without opening the container. 


How To Use Brake Cleaner Without Removing Tire


Also read: What is so special about the brake fluid used in Harleys?


Change the fluid if it is dirty or discolored

If the brake fluid color is not transparent enough, it is ideal for you to change your brake fluid. There is a full line marker on the brake fluid reservoir. If the brake fluid level drops below this level, then you should replace the brake fluid. 

If the level is too low, add more fluid

Lower levels of braking fluid are an indication of wear and tear on the brakes. This is also a sign that your brakes need maintenance and check-up. 

Only open when you are changing the brakes

You should not open the brake fluid reservoir container until you plan to replace or change the brakes. You can also open this reservoir when you plan to change the brake fluid. 

While changing the brakes, you need to open the brake fluid reservoir. It is not about the pressure in the tank or the pool. The main thing is that you can judge the fluid level so that it doesn’t overflow while changing. 

Don’t keep it open for too long.

Opening the brake fluid reservoir for a longer duration exposes it to the air. This will result in moisture entering the hydraulic system of the vehicle. 


You might like to read: What Does It Mean If Car Brakes Squeak When Backing Up?


Why Change The Brakes Of Your Vehicle? 

Many people even forget about one of the essential parts of their vehicle. This part is the hydraulic braking system. The brake fluid in the car requires regular checking and proper maintenance. If you can maintain the ideal amount of brake fluid in your vehicle at all times, you will also be increasing the longevity of the brakes. 


Maintaining the brake fluid is very important as if you don’t do it, the performance of the brakes will reduce. Traveling in your vehicle will not be safe if your car doesn’t have enough brake fluid. Sometimes if there isn’t enough brake fluid in the braking system, it can also lead to brake failure. 

What Is The Ideal Time For Replacing The Brake Fluids? 

There is no fixed timeframe for you to change your brake fluid. Unlike certain parts of a car, there is an improved mileage range. There is no set number of miles that you need to cover before changing the brake fluid. 

The need to change the brake fluid for your vehicles will vary. In most cases, drivers have seen that they need to change the brake fluid in four to five years. A good rule that you should follow while visiting your mechanic is to check the brakes and the brake fluid while getting your car’s oil changed. 


What Can I Use Instead Of Brake Cleaner


What Are Some Symptoms Of A Broken Brake Fluid Reservoir? 

There are a few common symptoms that you can notice and figure out that you have a faulty brake fluid reservoir. Some of these common symptoms are:- 

  • You can experience a leak in the brake fluid. You’ll find the brake fluid leak most commonly under the master cylinder. There may be a visible puddle of brake fluid under the hood or underneath your vehicle. 
  • In some cases, the brake lights on your vehicles will also turn on automatically. A low brake fluid level will trigger the brake light on the dashboard to turn on. 
  • Your brake fluid might also go under some degradation with time. There may be some water in the brake fluid, and moisture contamination slowly turns the brake fluid into a darker substance. Soon your brake fluid will start looking like motor oil. 

The best way to get the brake fluid reservoir correct is by fixing the master cylinder. You need to get the proper fluid to the pool to improve your car’s performance. You need to install the brake fluid properly. There is a high percentage of chance for the brakes to bleed in the brake fluid reservoir. 


You might like to read: How Long Can I Drive On Grinding Brakes?


Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to open the brake fluid reservoir when changing brakes? 

Yes, you need to remove or open the brake fluid reservoir when you change the brakes. The primary reason is that the newer brakes are much thicker than your older ones due to no wear and tear. Since these more recent brakes are more comprehensive, they will occupy more space and needless fluid. 

After adding the new brakes, you will also add the pistons to the brakes. Due to this, the brake fluid level will rise and start overflowing from the reservoir. If you keep the pool open, you can check the brake fluid growing and stop when you know it will spill. 

Do you leave the reservoir open when bleeding brakes? 

Yes, you have to leave the reservoir open when you are bleeding the brakes. You also have to remember to open the hood and constantly check the brake fluid reservoir levels. 

By constantly checking the brake fluid, you can add more brake fluid if you feel it is necessary. You should try and maintain the brake fluid level at the maximum marking on the reservoir. You mustn’t let the brake fluid reservoir become empty at any time. The brakes won’t function properly if the reservoir becomes empty during the bleeding process. 


How Long Can I Drive On Grinding Brakes


Is it safe to open the brake fluid reservoir? 

It is safe for you to open the brake fluid reservoir when fixing something or changing the brakes. But it is not the best idea to always leave the brake fluid reservoir open. This would result in the brake fluid taking in moisture. This moisture can then get deposited in the hydraulic components and, over time, start eroding them. 

There is also some damage associated with the reservoir when you open it. The plastic body of the reservoir can quickly become weak and brittle from a crack. When there is a crack in the brake fluid reservoir, it will start leaking out. Less brake fluid in your vehicle will reduce your vehicle’s braking efficiency and put you at risk. 

How do you release the pressure when changing brake pads?

It is essential that you also release the pressure while changing the brake pads correctly. You can follow five simple steps to release the tension on the brakes. These five steps are:-

  • The first task is to lift the car and remove your car wheels. You can take help from mechanical tools to achieve this step. 
  • In the next step, you have to remove the calipers and the brake pads attached to your car’s braking system. 
  • Keep your tools ready to change the brakes and release the pressure on them. 
  • Then you will have to compress the brake caliper piston to build up the pressure. 
  • Then reassemble the brake calipers, and you are good to go. 


You might like to read: Why Do My Brakes Squeal In The Morning?


A Few Final Words

Changing the brakes of your vehicle after some time is very important. Like every other car component, the brakes also have a fixed usage life or an expiry date. Once the brakes start reducing their performance, it is the best time for you to replace them. 


You should keep the brake fluid reservoir open while installing the new brakes as you want to maintain an ideal amount of brake fluid in your brake fluid reservoir. There are also some ways in this article to identify the fault with your brakes or your brake fluid reservoir.


As always, thank you for reading the article, we hope we answered most of your questions!

Photo of author

Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

Leave a Comment