What Color is Brake Fluid When it Leaks? (Explained)

What Color is Brake Fluid When it Leaks

Brake fluid is essential for the effective operation of the brake system, if it gets low as a result of leakage or not refilling in time, it will tell on its performance.

The color of brake fluid is different from other fluid leakages so you can easily tell them apart. So, what color is brake fluid when it leaks?

When brake fluid starts to leak, it usually has a light yellow color that is oily and slippery when touched and often time has a fishy smell. However, if the leakage is not attended to on time, the color will turn to dark brown color.

Can a Brake Fluid Leak?

Yes, brake fluid can leak. Leakage can occur in the braking system as a result of damage to one or more parts of the system.

This leakage can also result in slow or no response of the braking system or even loss of brake pressure which makes it impossible to stop the vehicle.

Brake fluid is essential for the safe running of the vehicle and helps in the transfer of movement and force that’s created when the brake pedal is pressed down.

A vehicle’s braking system is an important part that helps to maintain safety. It comprises of parts like the cylinders, reservoir, brake pedal, pistons, etc.

Damage to some like the brake lines, master cylinder, and drums could lead to the leakage of brake fluid.

What Color Is Brake Fluid When It Leaks?

Depending on where the leakage is coming from the fluid color will vary. In the case of leakage from the braking system, the brake fluid will be ‘Yellow’.

When it first starts dropping on the ground the color is usually light yellow but can also change to dark brown the longer it’s left untended to.

It is always oily and slippery when touched and often time has a fishy smell. If you notice any of this, it is advisable not to drive the vehicle and have the problem fixed instead.

The color of the fluid is a good way to determine where the leakage is coming from especially for someone that knows about cars.

Can You Drive If Your Brake Fluid Is Leaking?

In actual fact, you can drive your car if the brake fluid is leaking but it is not advisable. Brake fluid is important for the proper running of the brake system, leakage of a yellow-colored fluid simply means there is a shortage of fluid and a problem somewhere in the brake system that needs to be fixed.

However, some people may have driven their vehicles before they discover the leakage. Fluid leakage starts slowly and gets worse over time, therefore it may be safe to drive around with it in the initial stage. Once, it has been discovered that there is a leakage, instead of driving, have the vehicle towed to the mechanic.

You should know that driving when the brake fluid is leaking is very risky, you will be putting yourself and other road users in danger as it could lead to loss of pressure and eventually loss of control over the vehicle.

Other than the risk of danger, the leaking brake fluid could also damage car parts. If you get involved in a crash while driving, you are at risk of causing damage to some car parts.

The advice of not driving if the brake fluid is leaking isn’t because the car won’t start or move but because the brake will lose its effectiveness and the risk of brake failure.

How Do You Know Your Brake Fluid Is Leaking?

Just as nothing suddenly happens in a car without first giving signs, you will definitely know if your brake fluid is leaking. Here are some signs that will help you know if this is the case;

The Brake Pedal Falling to the Floor

One way of knowing if your brake fluid is leaking is when the brake pedal falls to the floor, this happens when you step on it.

This sign does not solely mean the brake fluid is leaking but it is definitely a sign that there is a problem in the brake system.

It may happen when the car is already on the road, however, if this happens before you start the car, don’t bother driving it.

If There’s a Wet Spot Under the Car

It is important to know that not every wet spot under the car is a result of brake fluid leakage, it could be related to other parts of the vehicle that uses fluid.

This is why once you notice the fluid you shouldn’t conclude just yet, rather, check further to know which side under the car the fluid is located. It will also be much easier if you know what the fluid color means.

Brake Warning Light Flashes

Another indicator that your brake fluid is leaking is when the brake warning light is flashing.

The brake warning light flashing may not only mean there is a brake fluid leakage, but it could also as well mean there are other brake-related problems.

This is one reason why you should have a mechanic take a look at the car as they are in the best position to detect the real problem.

Less Resistance When Pressing the Brake Pedal

Air in the brake line will cause brake fluid to leak which in turn makes the brake pedal less resistant than usual when pressed down.

Other brake-related problems that could cause the brake pedal to feel less resistant are problems with the brake booster, problems with the master cylinder, and low brake fluid level in the reservoir.

What To Do If Your Brake Fluid is Leaking

Having to deal with brake fluid leakage can be frustrating and leave one at a loss of what to do. Knowing what to do and fixing a brake fluid leakage depends on the source of the leakage.

In trying to fix a brake fluid leakage, the easiest option will be to take the car to the mechanic but if you are trying to save cost and know your way around the car, you will need the following to get started;

  • Wheel blocks
  • Car jack
  • Parts, and
  • Car maintenance tools

If the leakage is caused by the master cylinder, bolt, or wheel cylinder, you may need to new master cylinder rebuild kit which comes with detailed instructions.

To fix leaking brake hoses, you will need to get new hoses as replacements if the previous ones are damaged and leaking.

If the problem is with the brake lines, you should first look underneath the vehicle to know if it is really leaking. If that is the case you will have to change the entire line with new metal tubing. Doing this may not be as easy as fixing the others.

However, it is advisable to take the car to a licensed mechanic to do the work for you. The braking system in a car is very important. It is what you use to bring the car to a stop, so its not something you should joke about. You should always be conscious of your brake.


Brake fluid leakage can be prevented, with proper and timely maintenance you can prevent future occurrence of leaking brake fluid.

You just also resist the temptation to drive around when your brake fluid is leaking and an exception will be if you do not know.