What can I use Instead of Brake Fluid?(Explore Alternatives)

The brake mechanism is incomplete without the use of brake fluid. When we put pressure on the pedal, it is shifted to the brake caliper with this fluid. This transmission of power results in slowing down the speed. But what happens if someone wants to replace brake fluid because of its corrosive nature and tendency towards the absorption of moisture? There are some other options that one can consider for their brake system but only in case of emergencies..

What can I use instead of brake fluid? You can use soapy water by preparing it at home by yourself. The soap provides enough lubrication while water is effective for hydraulic effect. Other options are alcohol, engine oil, etc., which are best to use only for a couple of minutes to get the car to the repair center. 

Here, in this article, we will discuss each alternative of brake fluid in detail and their effects on the performance of brake systems in terms of safety or protection of various parts. So, stay with us.

You may also read Can I Use Transmission Fluid For Brake Fluid?

What can I use Instead of Brake Fluid?

Brake fluid alternatives

Firstly, remember that brake fluid is ideal to use for effective brake performance despite its corrosive and moisture-absorbent nature. So, considering alternatives is something that belongs to emergencies only. 

Such a situation may occur; the brake fluid may leak due to any technical issue, and the brake fluid level may get lower than the required one. So, this low brake fluid will affect the performance of the brakes and is dangerous in terms of accidents and loss of control.

So, one must ensure there is enough brake fluid before driving any type of vehicle. But in the case of emergencies, where the fluid is lower, and you have to drive your vehicle, then there are other options that give beneficial results. Let’s see them one by one:

Soapy Water

You can make this solution at home by yourself. So, if your brake fluid is lower and you have no access to it, then this is the right option. To use this solution, you have to remove the old brake fluid, whatever the level is. The mixing of two different types of liquid can be very dangerous and can affect the brakes adversely. So, pour out the brake fluid and then follow these steps to prepare this solution.

  • Take 60 percent water and 40 percent dish detergent solution.
  • Mix the detergent into the water and stir it properly
  • Pour this solution just like any other brake fluid

How is this Soap Water Effective in Working as a Brake Fluid? 

The detergent will provide enough lubrication that will also prevent corrosion. Furthermore, water will provide the power of fluid by transferring the power of the pressed brake pedal to the brake pads.

This fluid is sensitive to temperature and can boil with frequent brake application. So, when using it as brake fluid, you need to be careful in pressing the brake pad. Avoid using brakes and use them as minimally as possible. Furthermore, instead of actual brakes, try to use engine braking to avoid overheating problems. In case of long drives, don’t drive continuously. Rather, take intervals to let the solution cool down in between.

Remember to use this soapy water only in case of emergencies when you have no other option. Furthermore, this water is effective for utilization only for a short period of time and not for regular usage. So, once you get to the required place, try to replace it as soon as possible. Don’t forget to flush out all the soap water before pouring the actual brake fluid to avoid a mixture of these two fluids.

Radiator Water

In case of unavailability of detergents, then you can use only the radiator water as brake fluid to reach your destination. Here, again, once you reach your place, flush out all the radiator water and then pour the brake fluid to avoid any uncertain events. 


In case of a short drive towards the repair center, you may use this alternative. Alcohol has similar properties, just like brake fluid, and it can be used temporarily as a brake fluid without hurting the brake part’s functionality. 

Engine Oil

First, it is not recommended to use engine oil as brake fluid as it can affect the rubber parts of the brakes adversely. But if you have no other options and you want to take the car to the nearest repair shop, then you can consider it. Because of the thickness, try to add the engine oil after diluting it with solar, and avoid using water to dilute it. 

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Transmission Oils

Just like engine oils, you can use transmission oil as a brake fluid if you are in the middle of nowhere and want to park the car at a suitable spot. The regular use of this oil will definitely reduce the control of the vehicles by hindering the working of various brake parts. 

Things to Consider Before Using Brake Fluid Alternatives

The safety of any vehicle is highly dependent on its brake system. So, one must avoid any experiment that can hinder the performance of the brake pads. That is why we have mentioned all the necessary considerations regarding brake fluid that save you from unpleasant incidents.

  • Brake fluids are available in the market in different forms. It is not recommended to use two different types at once. The difference between various options will harm the brake parts if used in combination. 
  • Try to use alternatives that are similar in nature to brake fluid, like the ability to absorb moisture, lubrication, etc.
  • Never use diesel or any other type of petroleum product, as such oils can adversely affect the rubber parts of brake pads and make them ineffective in lowering or stopping the vehicle. 
  • In case of using any type of brake fluid alternative, use it for a short period and remove the content completely before pouring the actual brake fluid.
  • You may need to cleanse the old solution completely to avoid any residue, so get the job done from a reliable repair shop.
  • You can get help from the methylated spirit or carb cleaner to remove the alternative solution completely from the vehicle before adding new brake fluid.
  • In certain cases, cleaning is not enough, and replacing the rubber parts is necessary to keep the brake system functional. You need to get your vehicle checked by an expert technician to rule out all the requirements. 

FAQs About What can I use Instead of Brake Fluid

What are the different types of brake fluids available in the market?

Brake fluid is available in the market in various types like DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, DOT 5.1, etc. Each type has its own features. So, you need to select the one that is recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicles. Traditional brake fluids are based on glycol, while now the market is offering many other options like silicon-based or mineral oil-based brake fluid, etc. 

Why must one use only one type of brake fluid at a time?

Different types of brake fluids have different chemical composition. For example, some fluids are glycol-based, while others are silicon-based. Each has its own features and properties. So, mixing any two types can harm the working of the brake system and can result in serious accidents. 

What is the right time to replace the old brake fluid with the new one?

There is no fixed time duration for the replacement of the brake fluid as it depends upon various factors like driving style, car usage, etc. So, the right time to change your old brake fluid varies from person to person. You need to consult a mechanic to examine the fluid to identify whether you should change it or not. Usually, manufacturers recommend using new brake fluid after every 2 years.

Why is it not suitable to use any oil, including vegetable oil, as brake fluid?

Brake fluid has separate properties that you cannot have with any type of oil, like high boiling point and providing lubrication, etc. On the other hand, vegetable oil provides lubrication, but it also has adverse effects on the rubber parts of the brakes. So, using it can reduce the brake system performance and can result in accidents.  

Bottom Line

Brake fluid is a must-add for the performance of the brake system, so one must be careful in using high-quality fluids. Moreover, one must replace the old brake fluid after the recommended time duration to keep the brake parts in the best form. But what can I use instead of brake fluid? We have compiled all the possible options that one can consider in case of emergencies. 

Remember to use the alternative only for a short duration, like for around 24 hours, and replace it with actual brake fluid for the efficient performance of brake parts.

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