How to Add Brake Fluid to Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Adding brake fluid to a Vehicles is not necessarily a scheduled maintenance procedure. While the master cylinder reservoir should be topped off, when it gets low, it's due to other factors. Low brake pads will cause the hydraulic caliper pistons to extend outward further to allow the thinned pads to contact the rotor. This scenario sucks out more of the brake fluid (hydraulic fluid) from the master cylinder to accommodate the pistons' reach. While Vehicles most often employ wear sensors on the pads to warn the driver when the pads are low, topping off the master cylinder prevents the brake fluid light from illuminating on the dash to alert the driver.

Under The Hood:

 How to Add Brake Fluid to a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Raise the hood of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and locate the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir. It is located on the driver's side firewall at the rear of the engine compartment. (See Resources) It's a small white rectangle component with a yellow cap on it.

Inspect the amount of fluid in the master cylinder and then compare the fluid level to the full marking stamped visibly on the side of the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir.

Remove the yellow cap, if necessary, to add fluid to the master cylinder.

Add DOT 3 brake fluid to the reservoir. DOT 4 brake fluid is also acceptable, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee calls for DOT 3. Do not add DOT 5 brake fluid or any other type of fluid to the master cylinder. Petroleum-based fluids such as coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid or transmission fluid will contaminate and damage the rubber seals in the entire braking system. If you're unsure what kind of fluid is in the bottle, buy a new bottle of DOT 3 brake fluid to add to the master cylinder.

Pour the fluid into the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir until it reaches the full line stamped on the outside of the master cylinder.

Replace the cap to the master cylinder.

Have your brakes checked to make sure they're not getting too thin.

Items you will need

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

  • Shop rag

 How to Add Brake Fluid to a Chevrolet Lumina

Place the transmission in the Park position. Turn the ignition switch off. Allow the engine to cool. Pull back on the hood release lever located under the dash to the left of the driver’s side. Release the hood safety catch located under the left center of the hood. Lift the hood to its fully opened position.

Locate the brake master cylinder with the attached brake fluid reservoir next to the firewall on the driver’s side the engine. Wipe the brake fluid reservoir lid with a clean rag or paper towel to clean it before opening. Grasp the brake fluid reservoir lid and twist it counter clockwise. Remove the lid from the reservoir and set it aside.

Check the level of brake fluid in the reservoir. There will be a “high” and “low” level indicator on the reservoir or on an attached dipstick on the lid. Ensure the brake fluid in the reservoir rests between those two levels. Do not add brake fluid unless the fluid level is below the “low” level indicator.

Place a shallow funnel into the brake fluid reservoir. Add only enough DOT-3 brake fluid to the reservoir to bring the fluid level to the “low” level indicator. Lift the funnel carefully and allow any remaining fluid to drip into the reservoir. Place a rag or paper towel under the funnel to prevent brake fluid from dripping on the engine. Set the funnel aside.

Replace the lid onto the reservoir and twist clockwise to seal the brake fluid reservoir. Close the hood. Dispose of the soiled rags or paper towels in an approved container. Have the brake system inspected by a professional as soon as possible.

Items you will need

  • A clean rag or paper towel

  • DOT-3 Brake Fluid

  • A shallow funnel

 How to Add Brake Fluid to My 2003 Ford Escape

Open the Escape's hood and locate the brake master cylinder reservoir -- the translucent, plastic reservoir on the driver's side, rear of the engine compartment.

Twist the brake master cylinder reservoir cap counterclockwise to remove it.

Check the level of the brake fluid relative to the "Max" and "Min" lines on the reservoir -- you may need to clean the master cylinder reservoir with a shop cloth to get a clear view of the lines and the fluid.

Add DOT 3 brake fluid to the master cylinder reservoir, only if the level is lower than the "Min" line. There is no need to add fluid if the level is above the "Min" line.

Close the brake master cylinder reservoir cap and close the Escape's hood.

Items you will need

  • Clean shop cloths

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

 How to Add Brake Fluid to a 2006 Ford Taurus

Raise the hood of the Taurus. Locate the brake fluid reservoir, in the rear of driver's side engine compartment.

Remove the lid from the top of the reservoir. Pour brake fluid into the reservoir, until the fluid level is at the "Full" mark on the side of the reservoir.

Replace the brake fluid reservoir cap. Make sure the cap it turned clockwise as far as it can go, to ensure a proper seal.

Items you will need

  • 1 container DOT 3 or higher level brake fluid