Have you ever wondered what happens to your engine if your brake fluid runs out? Brake fluid is essential for your vehicle’s braking system. It simply transfers pressure from the brake paddle to the front and back brakes, causing the car to stop.

Vehicles use a non-compressible hydraulic fluid that may effectively stop the brakes. In the absence of braking fluid, the brakes will fail. Let’s see what happens if you run out of brake fluid.

Will brakes work without fluid?

No, the brakes will not work without the hydraulic brake fluid. If the brake fluid level is low or depleted, the pressure required to depress the brake pedals will be insufficient. As a result, the breaks will either fail or be inconsistent. 

Driving without brake fluid is not recommended since it increases the likelihood of an accident when driving.

What are the symptoms of no brake fluid?

If the brake fluid is depleted, you must refill it as quickly as possible. The following are some signs that the engine has run out of brake fluid –

  1. The brake is not responsive; the car takes longer to stop than usual.
  2. The brake warning light has been illuminated. The brake warning light is red and is situated on the dashboard’s instrument cluster.
  3. If the brake fluid is low, the vehicle may rumble and vibrate when the brakes are engaged. Squeaking, screaming, and grinding can also be heard while applying the brakes.

How long can you drive with your brake fluid light on

Driving is not advised if the brake warning lights are illuminated. If your brake warning light comes on while driving, slow down and park safely. If you think there is some brake fluid left but the brake warning light is on, drive carefully and slowly.

What causes brake fluid to run out?

Here are a few things that can cause the brake fluid level to drop too quickly:

  1. The most common cause of brake fluid running low is a leak in the braking system. Leaks can occur due to wear and tear or from hitting something, causing the fluid to leak.
  2. When brake pads or other engine parts wear down, the pistons that operate the pads or shoes separate from the housing, causing the cylinder seals to fail and fluid to leak.
  3. Rust might cause the brake line to wear out prematurely. This can cause the brake fluid to leak out of the engine. Brake lines made of steel are more prone to rusting in cold climates.

The brake fluid is low. Can I add more?

Examine the brake fluid level. The engine is low on brake fluid if it is less than the “MIN” or “ADD” value. You should refill if the engine is low on braking fluid. Open the reservoir cap and add new brake fluid until the level reaches the “MAX” mark.

Pumping brakes after adding brake fluid

After replacing the brake fluid, the first thing you should do is have the brakes examined. If you drive without brake fluid, your brakes will likely be ruined. If the brakes are in good working order, pump the brake to force the liquid back through the system.

Can you change the brake fluid yourself?

Yes, you can change the brake fluid at home. However, if a leak or a worn-out part that is causing the brake fluid to run low, make sure to call a mechanic. Also, while replacing the braking fluid is not particularly expensive, the tools required to replace engine oil are.

Although performing a complete brake fluid flush at home is not advisable, you can still top up the fluid by opening the reservoir and pouring fresh oil.

FAQs On What Happens If My Car Runs Out of Brake Fluid?

Bleeding is required to eliminate any air trapped in the brake lines. When there is a leak of brake fluid in the engine, bleeding is usually needed.

This is because air may have passed through the master cylinder or one or more reservoir sides are completely empty. If there is no leak, no bleeding is required, and you can add fresh oil.

Brake fluid deficiency might cause the brakes to fail. If there is no brake fluid, you may hear a grinding or scraping sound when applying the brakes.

You can drive the car right away after replacing the brake fluid. Drive the car for a short distance to see if the brakes are working correctly.


Brake fluid is the most crucial factor in your vehicle’s braking system. Without braking fluid, your car’s brakes can fail and increase the road accident risk. Brake fluid can typically last between 2 – 4 years. Fluid might get depleted before the time due to a leak or wear and tear. Contact your mechanic to have this fixed.

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