Can You Drive Your Car Without Brake Fluid? (Find Out Why)

One of the things that you need to be wary of while you are driving is the brake warning light because of the fact that there are plenty of issues that are related to this.

Your brakes are important, and there are some cases where the warning light comes on because you have insufficient or even no brake fluid left. So, can you drive your car without brake fluid?

Can you drive without brake fluid?

You cannot drive your car without brake fluid because the fluid is there to make sure that the pressure you apply on your brake pedal will be transferred over to the brakes. Without this fluid, there will be no pressure that would be applied to the brakes, and that means that the brakes will not work.

The brake fluid is not just some fluid that is there to help the brakes because the fact is that the brake fluid is actually the third component that makes the entire system work.

Without it, the entire brake system will have no “middle man” that essentially connects the brake pedal to the brakes. This is why you need to make sure that you have enough fluid in your brakes.

Can I drive with low brake fluid?

The brake system is an integral part of what makes a vehicle function because, without it, it would be completely difficult to stop the car’s movement on demand.

Of course, plenty of different components go into the brake system. While we often look at all of the different mechanical parts and components when talking about the brake system, some of us forget how important the brake fluid is.

Your car’s brake fluid is one of the most important components of the entire brake system, which has three main players: the brake pedal, the brakes, and the brake fluid.

It is important to look at how this entire system functions so that you can understand the importance of the brake fluid in this scenario.

The brake pedal is the pedal that is found in the driver’s seat. It is basically the “switch” that allows the entire brake system to work because this is what signals the brakes to work and then stops the wheels from moving.

So, everything starts from the brake pedal, and the entire system will work the moment you step on the brake.

Meanwhile, the brakes are the ones that are actually doing the job of stopping the vehicle. The brakes are found on the wheels, and they will function when you step on the brake pedal. What they do is that they essentially apply a clamping force to the wheels to stop them from moving.

But we often forget how important the brake fluid is in this entire scenario. While we do know that the brake pedal signals the entire system to work while the actual brakes are the ones that stop the car, those components still need a “middle man” that acts as the bridge between them.

This is where it becomes interesting to talk more about the function of the brake fluid.

Stepping on the brake pedal allows the vacuum booster to work. This booster is what multiplies the force you apply to the brake pedal so that the pressure that will be applied to the brakes will be great enough to stop the car from moving.

Without the booster, you would need to have extremely strong legs to stop the car.

But the component that carries all of the pressure that you are applying to the pedal and multiplied by the vacuum booster is the brake fluid. Your brakes will not be able to receive the pressure that you are applying to the brake pedal without this fluid.

In a way, this is the blood of the brake system because it is what carries the important “nutrients” that the brakes need to stop the car from moving.

So, the moment you step on the brake, the vacuum booster will multiply the force of the pressure you applied on the brake pedal and will begin to transfer this pressure to the brakes using the brake fluid.

All that said when you notice that your brake warning light is on because you have low brake fluid in your car, does that mean that you cannot drive the car?

Can you actually drive with low brake fluid?

In most cases, you can still drive your car with low brake fluid because, as long as there is enough fluid to apply enough pressure on the brakes, the car will still work.

Remember that the brake system warning is simply a warning that reminds you that you may be low on brake fluid, but it does not mean that you cannot drive your car. It simply means that you need to refill the brake fluid before it runs out.

However, it may also depend on how low the brake fluid is in the car’s reservoir.

If the brake fluid level is too low to the point that it is no longer enough to apply pressure on the brakes, then that could mean that you won’t be able to drive your car.

At the very least, you may be able to drive the vehicle, but the brakes won’t function very efficiently due to how low the pressure is.

Can you drive your car without brake fluid?

We did talk about driving with low brake fluid. However, what happens if your car no longer has any brake fluid left in the reservoir?

Can you still drive without brake fluid?

A brake system without brake fluid is like a person without any drop of blood in their system. This basically means that the entire brake system will not work without the brake fluid because this is what transfers the applied pressure that the brakes need to work.

As discussed, the brake fluid is the third component that acts as a middle man between the brake pedal and the actual brakes. It is transferred to the brakes whenever pressure is applied to the pedal. When the pressure is transferred from the pedal to the brakes via the fluid, the brakes will now act to stop the car from moving.

So, without the brake fluid, there would be no pressure that would be applied to the brakes. The pedal and the vacuum booster would still create the pressure, but there won’t be anything that will transfer this said pressure over to the brakes. 

In other words, there would be no way for the car to work when it has no brake fluid whatsoever.

You cannot even use water as a substitute because brake fluid is engineered to act quickly when pressure is applied to it. On the other hand, water is more compressible and will not transfer as much pressure to the brakes compared to brake fluid.

What happens if you drive without brake fluid?

If you do attempt to drive without brake fluid, you are only going to open yourself up to dangers.

That is because the brakes are important when it comes to stopping your car on a dime. If you need to stop before a crossroad or whenever there is someone crossing the street, your brakes will not work without the brake fluid.

In short, you are only asking for trouble if you attempt to drive without brake fluid because your brakes will not work. There might be other means to try to stop the car from moving, but they are not as effective and as efficient as simply stepping on the brake pedal. This is why you should never drive your car when the brake fluid reservoir is empty.

Is low brake fluid dangerous?

Meanwhile, if you do have low brake fluid, your car may still work because there is still brake fluid in the reservoir.

However, the risks are still there because there is still a chance that your brake fluid will end up running out while you are driving.

So, if you attempt to drive with low brake fluid, your car and the brakes will still work. But it still is dangerous and risky to do so because your fluid may run out at any given time. This is why you need to refill the brake fluid once the brake system warning light comes on to signal that you are low on brake fluid.

How long can you drive with low brake fluid?

If you are low on brake fluid, you can still drive your car well enough. That is because, as long as there is enough brake fluid in the reservoir to apply pressure on the brakes, the brake system will still work.

But how long can you go on with low brake fluid?

It really depends on how low your brake fluid is. If it is low but still reasonable enough for your car to work without much trouble, then you might be able to drive well enough for a few hours.

However, if it has been a while since your car already signaled that you have low brake fluid, then it would only be a matter of time until you run out of it.

Sources:

Will Brakes Work Without Fluid

Is it Safe to Drive With Brake Warning Light On?