Can I put brake fluid in my car (VW Polo) or do I have to take it to a garage?

It’s my first car and I don’t know much about it yet! The light comes on when I start the engine and I looked in the manual and it says this means the brake fluid is low and I need to take it to a garage to get it topped up, or words to that effect.
Basically do I have to take it to a garage or is it simple enough to buy some break fluid and do it myself. I don’t know much about cars but I’m not totally thick so if it’s easy enough to do then I’m sure I’ll manage it!

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9 Responses to Can I put brake fluid in my car (VW Polo) or do I have to take it to a garage?

  1. Max Headroom

    Buy some brake fluid from a car parts shop. Consult your manual as to where it goes (in the engine compartment – it will go in a plastic “bottle” with high and low markings on the side.)

    It’s a very simple job you can do in about 5 minutes.

  2. john313181

    as Max above says, is correct , you should actually make a check on the brake fluid each week to be on the safe side.

  3. Arlanymor is back

    Open the bonnet and there is a plastic container normally on the drivers side near the bulkhead (windscreen panel) unscrew the top and there is a line on the cylinder for the correct level.You need to buy universal brake fluid to top it up don’t use engine oil.Sometimes the light comes on when the brake pads are worn down or the handbrake is still on

  4. David

    Sure you can; just be sure to buy the right type. The label should specify something like DOT 3. The store should be able to help you, and your owners manual will tell you what you need.

    Add it carefully, and stay between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ marks on the reservoir; try not to spill any, since it can damage the paint.

  5. cunny

    Do it yourself – just nip along to Halfords and make sure you buy the correct grade – check in your handbook ( could be dot4 or dot5 or silicon – they don’t mix) – staff at Halfords will assist you to get the right one – then just pour in the fluid to the reservoir. simples!

  6. ca_surveyor

    Its a very simple job.. not much more then pouring some thing from a bottle into another bottle.

    Two things to be aware of..

    1) Brake fluid is caustic to paint so if you spill a drop or two on a finished paint surface, clean it up with soap and water promptly.

    2) Brake fluid should not need to be ‘added’ very often. If you have to keep adding it you need to look for where it is going since its not like gas or oil.. it does not get ‘used up’.

    You may want to buy a basic ‘how to’ book for your car so you can do other basic maint. like change the air filter, or check the transmission level. All pretty basic and usually quite easy.


  7. Timbo is here

    The light is supposed to come on when you start it. It should then go off as soon as you release the handbrake and pull away. If it stays on it could mean a few things
    1. The handbrake is not all the way down to the floor
    2. The handbrake switch is faulty
    3. The BRAKE fluid is low
    4. The disc pads are worn past limits and need ro be replaced
    You can top it up yourself if it is low as long as you know which reservoir to top up, clean everything around it fully before removing the lid, use the correct of 3 different types and do not fill it past the Max mark.
    Use fluid only from a small unopened container and discard it when you have topped up as it is useless after being opened. Brake fluid is corrosive and is great for stripping paintwork so be carefull with it and discard carefully and cloths you spill or wipe any with.

  8. BARRY B

    The warning light comes on for a few seconds as a self test. If it remains on whilst driving the car it is a genuine warning. As you have the handbook – read it. It will show you where the brake fluid reservoir is located under the bonnet. Look at the side of the reservoir. There will be max and min markings. If you wiggle the car to make the fluid move a bit it is often easier to see the level. You should maintain the level at, or very near, max. It will drop very slowly according to brake pad and lining wear. Once a month should be ample to check it unless you do very high mileages. DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid is ok to use. Do not spill it on the paintwork though as, unfortunately, it can cause a permanent mark. Something they haven’t bothered to resolve yet!

  9. p3200tmz

    If your brake fluid is low it means one of two things: 1. brake pads are worn down. disc brake systems are self-compensating for pad wear, and the thinner the pads, the lower the fluid will be in the resevoir. or 2. you have a leak somewhere in your brake system. Being from the USA, I’m not familiar with the Polo model, but many VW modes have drum brakes in the rear and the most common leak point is the “wheel cylinders” in the drum brakes. It’s also certainly possible for disc brake calipers to leak, and brake lines to rust through and leak.

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