12 Best Brake Fluids of 2021

Jerry Wilson
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Brake fluid really is one of the most unappreciated and overlooked items on our bikes. After all, you never really think about fluid until something goes wrong.

So, what is brake fluid anyway?

Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that is used to transmit braking force from one point to another. In other words, it’s the fluid that transmits the pressure from the master cylinder to the caliper and pads to slow your bike down.

Sadly, brake fluid will eventually leak causing it to go to waste. At best, it will cost you half of the cost of a new bottle to refill your bike. At worst, a faulty brake line or brake caliper could lead to a serious accident putting your safety, your loved ones, and even other people and their property at risk.

For that reason, you need to choose the best brake fluid for your bike to help prevent any issues that could affect the operation of your brakes.

You will want your brake fluid to have top notch performance at all times, without needing to do any annual maintenance, and to arrive at your house when you need it in the fastest time possible.

To ensure you get the most from your brake fluid, we’ve created a list of our favorite options for 2021.

NameCategoryProduct
Motul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500Best OverallMotul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500
Lucas Oil 10826 Brake FluidBudget PickLucas Oil 10826 Brake Fluid
Castrol SRF Racing Brake FluidUpgrade PickCastrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid

1. Motul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500

Our rating: 9 / 10

Motul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500

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Pros:

  • Quiet fluid
  • Great for road bikes
  • Good performance
  • Smooth, easy braking
  • Fast shipping

Cons:

  • A little loud when the brakes are tighly applied
  • Requires thorough flushing when switching to a new brand of fluid or first filling the bike with fluid

This silicone fluid from Motul, is a really good upgrade from the cheap brake fluid that most manufacturers provide. It has a higher boiling point, and is less prone to fading or damage in a wider range of temperatures. It does indicate that it is not the best fluid to "push" a car, but for a road bike, it's great.

I have had brakes that were a bit grabby after brake fluid has been redistributed in the system during a bleed. This fluid doesn't have that issue!

It's true that this isn't the best fluid to push a car or lawn mower, but for a road bike, this is probably the best you'll find in that price range.

2. ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 Racing Quality DOT 4 Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 Racing Quality DOT 4 Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • Best Brake Fluid Overall
  • Low Price
  • DOT 4 Type
  • Six years shelf life
  • Contains DOT 4 purity
  • 500ml spare bottle is available
  • Dark Red Color

We choose the ATE 706202 Original TYP 200 Racing Quality DOT 4 Brake Fluid as the best one in 2020 for many reasons. It costs less than most other potential candidates, but it doesn’t have any flaws.

Considering its low price, it’s a pretty decent quality and it comes in a DOT 4 form. It’s also dark red in color, making handling the assembly a lot transparent. It also has a shelf time of six years, which is a pretty great feat.

Moreover, the fluid is supplied with a 500ml small glass bottle that you can carry around with you if you think you’ll need more brake fluid in the future. The price of the spare bottle is pretty decent and won’t have an impact on the quality of brake fluid you’ll use.

3. Castrol 12509 Dot 4 Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Castrol 12509 Dot 4 Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • 25% solvent free
  • Like you like it: liquid or gel
  • Great basic workhorse DOT4

Castrol's DOT4 fluid is the workhorse of the brake world. It's inexpensive with a reasonable shelf life.

We like this particular brand as it's fair quality, comes in a convenient jar, and is easy to use.

For those of us who have a garage full of bikes, automotive fluids, and motorcycle gear, this is a fairly practical choice.

4. Motul Brake fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Motul Brake fluid

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Pros:

  • * Clean rinsing formula * Available in different sizes * DOT 5.1

If you’re looking for easy to rinse formula, you’ve found it right here with the Motul Brake fluid, DOT 5.1 (N-S) – 500ml Bottle. Manufactured with high performance in mind, this is a brake fluid that is highly compatible with a wide range of brake systems. The Motul Brake Fluid is also affordable and comes in 500ml bottles that make these fluids excellent for solving your fluid replenishment needs.

Like all of the best brake fluids, the Motul Brake Fluid is chock full of excellent corrosion and thermal stability, which means it’s very unlikely you’ll have to worry about your system short circuiting, leading to a possible accident.

5. Castrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Castrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • Good grip and controllability
  • Two-way anti-squeal formula

Cons:

  • Longer than most to dry
  • A bit pricey, but you're paying a premium for quality

Castrol's SRF is what I've chosen to protect my car's brakes. I selected it for its extended life rating (meant for long-distance drivers) and general positive feedback.

It's also ready for use right away, so no need to transfer or to wait out any curing time. In my testing, it stopped my vehicle quickly, and provided great response time.

6. Castrol 12614 OIL

Our rating: 9 / 10

Castrol 12614 OIL

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Pros:

  • Quality at an affordable price
  • A good option for novice brakes
  • Does not quickly evaporate

Being one of the cheapest products on this list, it may come as a surprise to find it in my top picks. Nonetheless, the Castrol 12614 OIL is not a bad product at all. I would certainly use it if I had to choose a product within an extremely low price range.

It is very efficient in cold temperatures which is something that most of the products featured here lack. Another thing I like about this product is that it doesn’t evaporate as quickly as the alternatives.

I didn’t experience any problems with it after I applied it, so it’s safe to say that the Castrol 12614 OIL can provide decent perform’ance. In fact, I would probably go for it if I were to use this fluid for a simple braking installation.

7. Wilwood 290-6209 EXP 600 Plus Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Wilwood 290-6209 EXP 600 Plus Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • Blend of synthetic and mineral based fluids
  • High temperature and pressure stable
  • Lasts through multiple brake rebuilds

Cons:

  • Provides a rudimentary warning light
  • Expensive

Technicians that build and rebuild brakes love Wilwood EXP Brake Fluid. It costs a premium, but provides premium performance. It allows the mechanic to see how much brake fluid remains through Wilwood’s warning light. When the light works, it works. Other brake fluids provide an “unknown low” warning. This takes time to learn and develop the right technique.

Just like the name indicates, EXP is EXPensive. This is the only bummer I found in this Wilwood brake fluid. But for a pro mechanic who rebuilds brakes on a regular basis, the EXP is a great investment.

EXP means “Extreme Performance.” It’s an excellent race/performance brake fluid that works extremely well under high temperatures. It’s resistant to moisture and contamination. This is true for all Wilwood fluids.

8. MAG1 120 Premium DOT 3 Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

MAG1 120 Premium DOT 3 Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • FDA, DOT, and SAE approved product
  • Avid compatible
  • Contains nitrite-free wetting agents
  • Complies with federal standard FMVSS-106

MAG1 is a high-quality brake fluid with measures in place to prevent contamination. This DOT-approved product complies with FMVSS-106 and contains only FDA/DOT/CE approved ingredients. MAG1 has been specifically formulated for severe duty use and harsh weather conditions. The manufacturer also provides a lifetime guarantee with its products, so you can be sure you’re investing in a worthwhile product.

The product is manufactured in the US and certified to be sourced from American raw materials. The manufacturer guarantees that it won’t corrode your braking system over time. This is because it’s been designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions. The product is also available in a wide range of sizes.

9. Lucas Oil 10826 Brake Fluid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Lucas Oil 10826 Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • Compatible with all types of brake systems
  • Contains no ethanol
  • Little to no odor
  • Excellent formulation
  • Good value for its price
  • 100% pure quartz
  • Quick and easy to install

Cons:

  • The packaging is not resealable
  • Slight decrease in performance after storage

10. Genuine Toyota Fluid 00475-1BF03 Brake Fluid

Our rating: 8 / 10

Genuine Toyota Fluid 00475-1BF03 Brake Fluid

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Pros:

  • Allows for a smooth pedal action
  • Prevents corrosion
  • Contains no alcohol

When it comes to brake fluid, there’s no better manufacturer than Toyota. The Toyota Fluid 00475 breaks down the molecular bonds between the brake pad and the rotors to allow for smooth stopping power on the go. It’s compatible with pad and rotor materials with a dry boiling point of 572 degree F, and can be used in both automatic and hydraulic brakes. This stuff and a brake-job from a mechanic are the same price, so you might as well get in the habit.

11. Solder Seal Motor Medic DOT 4 Super Heavy Duty Brake Fluid 32 oz.

Our rating: 8 / 10

Solder Seal Motor Medic DOT 4 Super Heavy Duty Brake Fluid 32 oz.

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Pros:

  • Good price-tag ratio
  • Pint container

Cons:

  • Doesn’t fully coat cables
  • Braking power decreases after sitting for a long time

This Solder Seal Motor Medic brake fluid is an excellent choice for budget buyers because it has a modest price that won’t break the bank. It comes in a 32-ounce container, which is more than enough to adequately coat all of your brake system components. It usually lasts me about two years, so you can do the math.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was that it didn’t fully coat my brake cables. The braking power also decreases after sitting overnight in the bottle if you don’t use your brakes regularly during the day. Fortunately, the low boiling point compensates for that by helping you avoid having to refit the brakes every month.

The package comes in a regular cardboard container with no mention of the manufacturer and a short instruction for proper brake system maintenance.

12. Prestone AS401 DOT 3 Synthetic Brake Fluid

Our rating: 7 / 10

Prestone AS401 DOT 3 Synthetic Brake Fluid

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If you're looking for the best brake fluid that's built to handle extreme hot or cold weather, look no further than Prestone's AS401 DOT 3. It can remain effective anywhere from -70 degrees F to 300 degrees F.

This full synthetic brake fluid is much less expensive than the high-performance DOT 5 fluid like the ATE Super Blue but it can withstand much lower temperatures.

This brake fluid also comes in a jumbo, 32-ounce bottle. That's a lot of brake fluid for not a lot of money. But, if you don't buy it from a place like Amazon where it's on sale, it's a very expensive fluid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best brake fluid brand?

If you have just purchased a vehicle and are looking to replace the brake fluid, it is recommended that you do so as soon as possible. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air very easily, making it important to check the level and condition of the fluid at least once a year.

Most manufacturers recommend a brake fluid flush every two years or 25,000 miles whichever comes first. In most cases, the brake fluid flush can be completed by the customer, but it may be beneficial to have your local mechanic take care of this maintenance task for you.

What type of brake fluid do most vehicles recommend?

Brake fluid is largely petroleum-based. A petroleum derivative of this brake fluid is called DOT-3 fluid.

In the US, the DOT-3 fluid is the most common brake fluid.

The fluid you use has much to do with the type of brake system that your car has. If you are in a region where it gets very hot, then you should use the DOT 5.1 fluid. Or vice versa, if it is in a region where it gets very cold, then you should switch to the DOT 4.1 fluid.

If you are in a region where the weather is stable, then most of the time you would be using the big DOT 3 fluid.

Does it matter what brand of brake fluid I use?

It all depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. However generally speaking, there are a few brands of brake fluid that seem to top the list with multiple manufacturers. These include ATE Brake Fluid, Motul Brake Fluid, Castrol Brake Fluid, and Bel-Ray Brake Fluid.

You should always check your owner’s or repair manuals when making your selections. A good brake fluid will also leave a film of oil on your brake pads, calipers, and disks to protect them, as well as provide for a lengthy service life. Always make sure that you check on your brakes before even getting on a plane or ship to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive.

Is all DOT 4 brake fluid the same?

In terms of the fluid itself, all DOT 4 brake fluids are made to the same standards and are of high quality. However, there are two big differences that make each fluid unique; the temperature it needs to be and the company making it.

Some fluids have a higher boiling point than others, which is useful if you want to drive in extreme conditions, such as in very hot or cold areas of the country. While the boiling point of all DOT 4 fluids is similar, sometimes you might find one that can hold out a little longer before boiling over. Engineers also live by the rule that the colder the fluid, the better. Therefore, if you live in Canada or Alaska, you’ll want to give extra consideration to getting a fluid that can withstand a colder temperature.

Conclusion

What are the best brake fluids? And how to choose a few top contenders out of a list of scores? What factors do you consider when choosing a brake fluid? High boiling and freezing points? Performance at a wide range of temperatures? Economy of use? Chemical stability? Friction and wear resistance? Excellent resistance to oxidation? Low vapor pressure? Grime resistance? Compatible with silicon hoses? With copper hoses? The possibilities are endless, which is why we continually assess and update our lists.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Motul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500Best OverallMotul MTL100949 8068HL RBF 600 Factory Line Dot-4 100 Percent Synthetic Racing Brake Fluid-500
Lucas Oil 10826 Brake FluidBudget PickLucas Oil 10826 Brake Fluid
Castrol SRF Racing Brake FluidUpgrade PickCastrol SRF Racing Brake Fluid