All about brake fluid

Brake fluid
prestone brake fluid

For 90% of you out there, this article will end very quickly with buying a normal Prestone DOT 4 or DOT5 brake fluid linked below. For those 10% of you who use their vehicle on spirited back road drives, on the racetrack or even towing, we will look at a few high performance brake fluids for you.

Why brake fluid needs to be changed

Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid used in every automobile, motorcycle, and tractor that has a hydraulic braking system. In other words, about 98% of vehicles on the road today. When water or contaminants enter the system, the fluid can’t perform the way it should and you get soft, ineffective brakes.

Over time, your brake fluid will absorb moisture and get dirty from seals wearing out or contamination in the system. This is why it is recommended to flush your brake fluid every 30,000 miles or so.

Types of brake fluid

The different types of brake fluid are named with a “DOT” then a number. Most vehicles today will take DOT 3, DOT 4, or DOT 5.1 brake fluid. All of these brake fluids are glycol based. 

DOT 5 brake fluid is in an area of its own as it is silicone based and used for special applications. It is not recommended for vehicles with ABS(anti lock braking systems) which is again about 90% of the cars on the road today.

Brake fluid for the daily driver

If your vehicle is used for commuting or daily driving duties, use the brake fluid that is recommended by the manufacturer of your car or motorcycle. This DOT recommendation is usually found on the brake reservoir cap or in your owner’s manual.

High performance and racing brake fluids

If you are like me and enjoy a spirited drive through the empty mountain roads or indulge in track days, you will absolutely need to upgrade your brake fluid so it doesn’t boil. You will usually hear this term at the racetrack where people will say “I boiled my brakes”. This simply means the fluid they were using didn’t have a high enough heat rating for the abuse they were putting their brakes through. 

Normal DOT 4 or DOT 5.1 have a boiling point of 400F-500F. Racing brake fluids usually start at 600F wet boiling point.

Our picks for the best high performance brake fluid

Motul RBF600 is my go to brake fluid for spirited back roads and most track duties. It is readily available from most high performance parts suppliers and on Amazon Prime, you are able to mix it with regular DOT if needed in a pinch, and it won’t break the bank.

Falling into our second place spot is Endless RF-650 is a proven performer on the track and the street. It’s resistance to fade along with its durable packaging make it a fantastic trackside companion.

Castrol SRF is the only silicone based fluid in our test. While it is one of the best fluids out there, you will be limited to using only Castrol SRF. This isn’t an issue if you perform a full brake flush but your DO NOT want to mix Castrol SRF and glycol based brake fluids such as the ones mentioned above. If this isn’t a concern and you want the absolute best brake fluid, Castrol SRF is for you!

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