Symptoms of a brake fluid leak and repair costs

6 minute read Published on Apr 2, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

A mechanic's gloved hand opening the car's brake fluid reservoir cap to check the brake fluid level

A brake fluid leak can wreak all kinds of havoc on your vehicle. For this reason, all drivers must know the signs and symptoms of a brake fluid leak. In this vein, it’s also helpful to know how much it will cost you to repair a problem with your brakes, such as a fluid leak. Continue reading to learn more about car brake fluid leaks and how the right car insurance plan can protect you.

What is brake fluid?

Vehicles contain many different kinds of fluids to operate effectively. One such fluid type is brake fluid. Brake fluid allows your car’s brake system to function, i.e., it will enable you to slow or stop your vehicle.

The brake fluid works as follows: When you press on the brake pedal in your car, the brake system multiplies the force of your foot via a vacuum booster found behind the pedal. This high degree of force increases the pressure of the brake fluid and activates the master cylinder, forcing the pressurized brake fluid to travel into the brake lines, allowing your car to slow down or come to a complete stop.

Thus, the issue with a brake fluid leak is that when you do not have adequate brake fluid in your car, it can significantly diminish the functionality of your brakes. More specifically, the brake system will not be able to build up enough pressure to function correctly, which can vastly increase braking distance and decrease stopping force. As you might suspect, a problem with your brakes is a major cause for concern.

If your car cannot brake quickly, you could have a car accident. That is why you must drive and adapt to the weather while driving, and regularly maintaining your car are essential safe driving tips. However, in the event of a collision, you might be able to file an auto insurance claim with your provider to receive a payout. For example, if the crash was another driver’s fault, their third-party liability car insurance could pay for the cost of repairs to your car.

Signs of a brake fluid leak in your car

Worried about a brake fluid leak in your car? Whether you suspect something or not, it’s essential to know the signs of this type of leak. This way, you can be proactive about inspecting your vehicle for signs of a leak on a regular basis, which is a crucial winter car maintenance tip. Keep reading for a list of symptoms that may indicate a brake fluid leak:

A puddle of fluid underneath your car

If you back out of your driveway and notice a puddle of liquid beneath where your car had been parked, this could be a sign of a brake fluid leak - mainly if the puddle is located beneath where the master cylinder or brake lines are located. To identify if it’s brake fluid, take a closer look and note the colour of the oil. Brake fluid is typically yellow or brownish in colour. It also usually leaves a slippery or oily residue when touching your skin. Since brake fluid sometimes resembles motor oil, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic if you suspect a leak.

Your brake warning light is illuminated

If the brake warning light on your dashboard is illuminated, this could mean that you are low on brake fluid. Although an illuminated warning light could also indicate another problem with your brakes, low fluid levels are a likely culprit.

The brake pedal sinks down when you press on it

A third symptom of a brake fluid leak is if the brake pedal feels soft or spongy when pressing it down. In essence, if your brake pedal isn’t resisting much when you press on it, it could mean that there is not enough brake fluid to apply force to the brake lines properly.

Your brake fluid levels drop quickly

Finally, if you notice that the brake fluid levels in your car are dropping quickly, this is a telltale sign of a leak. For instance, if you recently topped up your brake fluid and are already noticing signs of low levels, this probably means a leak. To check how much brake fluid is in the reservoir, pop the hood of your car, take the cap off the reservoir, insert the dipstick into the reservoir, and observe how much of the dipstick is covered in the fluid when you remove it. If it only covers a small amount of the dipstick or if you can clearly see that there isn’t much fluid in the reservoir just by looking at it from the outside, then a leak is possible, so it’s best to take your car into an auto body shop.

The most common causes of brake fluid leaks in cars

Now that you know what symptoms to look for when you’re worried about a brake fluid leak, let’s consider the most common causes of these leaks:

Damaged brake lines and hoses

First, damaged brake lines and hoses are a common reason that brake fluid starts to leak. With time, whether due to regular wear and tear or due to a collision or other damage, it’s possible for brake lines and hoses to become damaged or corroded. The result of this is that brake fluid can start leaking out.

A failing master cylinder

A failing master cylinder is the second common cause of car brake fluid leaks. As with brake lines and hoses, the master cylinder can wear out with time or become damaged due to other circumstances. When it wears or becomes damaged, it’s possible for fluid to leak out as it travels between the master cylinder and the wheel cylinders.

A cracker brake caliper

Next, a cracked brake caliper may also be responsible for a brake fluid leak. The brake caliper is what squeezes the brake pads against the rotors to slow or stop the car. If the brake caliper becomes cracked, it can cause fluid to leak. A cracked brake caliper is often the result of wear due to heat and stress from braking frequently over time.

How to maintain your car’s brake pedal

For tips on how to maintain your car’s braking system, continue reading:

  • Inspect your brake system regularly - or have a professional mechanic inspect it for you. They should inspect it for signs of damage, leaks, and general wear and tear.
  • Keep brake fluid levels topped up - And inspect your reservoir regularly to ensure that it contains an adequate amount of fluid at all times.
  • Use high-quality brake fluid and brake replacement parts as needed - Cheap or low-quality fluid and parts can wear out faster and be more prone to problems.
  • Address problems with your car’s braking system as soon as they come up - For example, if you notice a problem with the brake pedal, take your vehicle to your local auto body shop immediately.
  • Treat your brakes with care - Do this by having them maintained and driving safely and responsibly to avoid putting undue stress on your brakes.

The cost of brake fluid leak repairs

Brake fluid leaks can cost anywhere from $75 to $500 to fix, depending on the cause and extent of the problem. Due to this wide price range, your best bet is to contact a local mechanic or car dealership in your area to find out how much they charge for brake repairs.

Contact BrokerLink today

If you want help from a licensed insurance broker, BrokerLink is here for you. We are licensed and registered professionals with all kinds of valuable knowledge. For example, we can help you find a mechanic to help with your brake fluid repair, as well as help you find a car insurance policy that may even cover the cost of the repair. For example, there are many types of auto insurance that could cover you for the cost of brake repairs or replacements, mainly if the problem occurred following a collision. Some types of car insurance that a broker can help you find include:

For more information on how much car insurance will cost you, contact BrokerLink for a free insurance quote. An insurance advisor will ask for a few details about you, such as where you drive your car, where you live, and what kind of car you drive, and from there, they can provide you with a quote that will give you an idea of how much car insurance costs per month in Ontario.

Even better, as a leading insurance brokerage in Canada, any one of our registered brokers can also give you tips for driving on icy roads, explain the steps to take if you’re trapped in a vehicle in the snow, and provide information on how snow tires protect winter drivers. Get in touch today to begin your auto insurance journey.

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