There are several different brands of brake fluid on the market to choose from, but there are only three primary types of brake fluid available for cars and trucks. These are classified as either “wet boiling point” or “dry boiling point” and referred to as DOT3, DOT4, and DOT5 braking fluid.
Standard Brake Fluids
As mentioned before, the three primary brake fluids are DOT3, DOT4, and DOT5. The first two, DOT3 and DOT4, are glycol-ether-based fluids. These two glycol-based fluids absorb water, which at the same time, decreases their boiling points. DOT3 has a minimum dry boiling point of 401 Fahrenheit, and a minimum wet boiling point of 284 Fahrenheit.
DOT4 has a minimum dry boiling point of 446 Fahrenheit and a minimum wet boiling point of 311 Fahrenheit. Although they are similar in function, separate types of braking fluids should never be combined in a brake fluid reservoir. It can cause substantial corrosion to your vehicle’s braking system, as well as, let off toxic fumes that are harmful to respiratory health. Also, never allow DOT3 or DOT4 to touch or spill onto car paint. It will eat paint away quickly, leaving you with a hefty vehicle paint job bill.
DOT5 Brake Fluid
In contrast to DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluids, the DOT5 brake fluids are silicone-based and DO NOT absorb water. This means the boiling point for DOT5 fluid remains steady and doesn’t change. Since it doesn’t absorb water, any water that gets inside can cause pure water pockets to form, resulting in major brake corrosion.
DOT5 is actually an older version of what’s used on the market today since it causes high compressibility. DOT5 was used in antique cars and vehicles that needed to be water-corrosion resistant, like military vehicles. Now, a newer more applicable version is available called DOT5.1 braking fluid.