Brake fluid is an essential element of every vehicle. From your personal cars and bikes to public buses and trucks, it is found in every vehicle system and works incredibly hard to ensure that you and your automobile remain safe on the road.
In numerous instances, however, an “out of sight out of mind” situation may arise, inviting obstacles in the handling and storing of this liquid.
To find out more about brake fluid, its properties, and adequate handling, keep on reading!
What is Brake Fluid?
This widely employed liquid chemical is integral to a vehicle’s brake system. Brake fluid is used to intensify the foot force on the brake and to get converted into pressure that then causes the brakes to work. Without the addition of brake oil, a sole push on the brake pedal would not be sufficient to stop your car.
To be precise, brake fluid primarily transforms the force by the user on the pedal. It also magnifies this force and therefore allows the car to stop easily.
In fact, brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid that helps the clutches and brakes work by moving the brake parts of the braking system. If your car does not have brake fluid, it won’t be able to stop and hence would be extremely unsafe to use.
You must have the proper know-how when dealing with brake fluid, or else you and your car might be in danger! To find the answer to whether this hydraulic fluid is flammable or not, continue scrolling.
Different Types of Brake Fluids
To discern whether brake fluid is flammable or not, it is essential to look at the elements of this fluid.
Break fluids come in various types and varieties, depending on the main element. As of now, there are three significant categories available on the market:
- DOT 3
- DOT 4
- DOT 5
DOT 3 and DOT 4 are similar since are both glycol based brake fluid, while DOT 5’s main component is silicon. Another insignificant type is DOT 5.1, which is glycol-formulated but has characteristics similar to the silicon-based DOT 5.
Is Brake Fluid Flammable?
Now that you know there are different brake fluid compositions, let’s find out more about these volatile fluids.
Is DOT 3 Flammable?
DOT 3 brake fluid is known to tolerate very hot and cold temperatures without compromising its quality. However, with a boiling point of 482°F and a flashpoint of 230°F, DOT 3 is relatively flammable.
Is DOT 4 Flammable?
This glycol ether-based and sometimes borate ester-based brake fluid features a comparatively higher flashpoint between 210 and 375°F and, therefore, can burn quickly when exposed to high heat.
Is DOT 5 Flammable?
Unlike the former types, DOT 5 has a higher flashpoint due to its silicone composition, and thus it can ignite spontaneously. No wonder why most manufacturers disapprove of this brake oil.
In a nutshell, just like every other hydraulic fluid, brake fluid is also flammable and can catch fire if left exposed near a flame source or if spilled somewhere close to a flame.
It is essential to know that there is a difference between being flammable and combustible. While there are no such thing as non flammable brake fluids, it is not particularly combustible, and thus it does not explode nor readily catch fire.
When Does Brake Fluid Catch Fire?
Yes, brake fluid is flammable, but exactly when does it catch fire?
When the surrounding temperature exceeds the flashpoint, the particles of the fluid vaporize and burn. Since every type of fluid has a different flashpoint, each brake fluid burns at a specific temperature, which can lie anywhere between 540 and 675°F.
However, DOT 3 is the most flammable out of the three types due to its highest flashpoint.
How to Safely Handle the Brake Fluid?
Now that you know about the flammability of this chemical, you must follow all the safety and protective measures while handling it to avoid creating a fire hazard. Below are a few tips for doing so:
Store your brake fluid in a cool and dry place
When not using it, you must store your brake fluid in an area free from sunlight so that your fluid does not vaporize or catch fire.
Quickly clean up if spilled
Since brake oil is corrosive, it can erode surfaces when contact is prolonged. Therefore, in case of any spill, you should clean the area as soon as possible to prevent any chances of fire or slipping incidences.
Do not smoke near the fluid
Like we said, breaking fluid is combustible, and smoking around it can increase fire risk.
Don’t forget to wear eye protection
If accidentally splashed into the eyes, brake oil can cause irritation and redness. Don’t forget to wear your goggles when working with brake fluid.
Protect your hands
The brake fluids chemicals are not good for your skin and can cause skin disorders on repeated exposure. We suggest wearing gloves to protect your hands from brake oil’s corrosive and poisonous chemicals.
How to Properly Dispose of Brake Fluid?
As cited above, brake fluid is particularly harmful and flammable, so we should dispose of such toxic chemicals carefully.
NEVER pour excess brake oil down the toilet no matter how easy it may look. Instead, you can pour it into an unused kitty litter pan and dispose of it by allowing it to vaporize gradually.
The ideal way to get the job done is to send the fluid to a waste facility. You can either give it to your local facility or use online resources to find a public one. After deciding on the waste facility, seal your brake fluid in a well-protected and closed container and transport it off to your chosen site.
Like a brake pad and a disc, brake fluid is an indispensable aspect of your car’s braking system, and therefore you must have sufficient knowledge of its properties and handling techniques.
We hope that our article helps you gain some valuable information about this flammable liquid and improves your driving experience. Happy driving, everyone!