Just as brake pads and rotors are essential to safe stopping, so is clean and correctly formulated brake fluid. When properly maintained, it lubricates your brake system and multiplies force from your brake pedal to stop the vehicle. Responsible upkeep starts with purchasing the right fluid for your vehicle. This brief guide explains what you need to know about brake fluid specs for many Ford models.
Types of Brake Fluid
The United States Department of Transportation regulates brake fluid performance and composition specs on passenger vehicles. You see these regulations reflected in the types of fluid available on the market today. DOT 3, 4 and 5.1 fluids contain a glycol ether base, while DOT 5 contains silicone.
Most vehicles use glycol ether brake fluids. You cannot replace them with DOT 5 and vice versa. The two types form a thick gel when mixed and can lead to complete braking system failure. You can tell DOT 5 fluid from other types by its distinctive purple color.
Brake Fluid Heat Tolerances
Brake fluid types differ in composition and boiling points. DOT 3 consists of glycol ether, while DOT 4 and 5.1 include both glycol ether and borate ester. Each type has two distinct boiling points: dry, which applies to fresh fluid in opened containers, and wet, which applies to fluid that’s absorbed around 3.7% water. When purchasing brake fluid, you’ll want to pay attention to these wet and dry boiling points:
- DOT 3: 401° F and 284° F
- DOT 4: 446° F and 311° F
- DOT 5.1: 518° F and 374° F
Why are boiling points important? Because your brakes generate a lot of heat, brake fluid must be able to withstand high temperatures without boiling. Thanks to these heat tolerance specifications, glycol ether brake fluids are downward compatible. You can use DOT 4 in a vehicle that takes DOT, but not the inverse.
Ford Focus Model
Ford Focus vehicles usually take either DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid. The recommended fluid type for your specific make and model is available in your owner’s manual. That said, you can use DOT 4 2015 Ford Focus brake fluid even if your vehicle’s specs normally call for DOT 3. DOT 4’s higher heat tolerance can be helpful in situations such as stop-and-go traffic and inclement weather.
Ford Escape Model
Like Ford Focus vehicles, Ford Escapes usually accept either DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid. It’s safe to put DOT 4 Ford Escape brake fluid into a vehicle that calls for DOT 3 but not the reverse. Depending on your vehicle and driving conditions, DOT 4 LV may be recommended. The “LV” stands for low viscosity fluid, which can deliver better performance in colder temperatures. Again, you should check your owner’s manual for specific details.
Shopping for Brake Fluid
To ensure the best quality and service, it’s important to get your fluid from a reputable aftermarket auto parts and accessories retailer. Check your vehicle specs to confirm the specific Ford Focus brake fluid you need. Many online retailers let you shop by make, model and year or enter your VIN to get exact matches for your car, truck or SUV.
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