Brake fluid is a liquid chemical solution that helps support your car’s braking system. It amplifies your foot’s force on the pedal, so your car stops without the need for additional force.
However, brake fluid loses effectiveness over time and becomes dirty. To maintain a properly working vehicle, you must change the fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
This guide will explain all the basics that you’ll need to know about changing your RAV4’s brake fluid so you can be prepared and informed.
All Toyota RAV4s, regardless of the model year, are compatible with the following brake fluid:
- SAE J1703
- FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3
Toyota RAV4s manufactured from 2019 to 2024 are also compatible with
- SAE J1704
- FMVSS No. 116 DOT 4.
The primary difference between DOT 3 and DOT 4 brake fluid is water absorption. DOT 3 brake fluid absorbs less water from the air than DOT 4.
This means that you must change DOT 3 brake fluid less often. However, DOT 4 has its own benefits. It has a higher dry and wet boiling point, which makes it safer for higher temperatures (autozone.com).
You shouldn’t mix different types of Toyota RAV4 brake fluid as this can cause brake malfunction. Stick to the types listed above and reach out to a professional if you’re unsure about what to select for your car.
As noted above, changing your brake fluid at the right time is critical to maintaining a properly functioning vehicle. Here’s how to know when you should change your brake fluid.
Toyota recommends inspecting the brake fluid every 6 months years or 5,000 miles. If the fluid is low, it should be topped off. If the fluid is severely discolored, it should be flushed and fully replaced.
Similar to your motor or engine oil, the brake fluid will change color as it’s used. Fresh brake fluid is almost clear or transparent with a hint of yellow. Over time, it becomes dark brown or black, and this is how you know it’s time for a brake fluid flush and replacement.
Remember, failing to change your brake fluid can result in “soft” brakes as well as other issues. Soft brakes are when a brake pedal no longer offers the same reassuring pressure it typically does. This can be alarming to drivers, and it’s not something you want to encounter if you can avoid it.
How to Check the Fluid Level
- Pop your hood and head over to the driver’s side
- Find the Toyota RAV4 brake fluid reservoir
- Look at where the level falls on the outside of the container (this is easier to see if the fluid is dirty)
If you don’t see the fluid level while looking at the reservoir, this could be that the fluid is very low or the reservoir is dirty on the outside.
Take a damp cloth and wipe down the exterior of the reservoir thoroughly. This should make it easier to view the fluid level.
Cost to Replace
The price of a Toyota RAV4 brake fluid change will depend on where you seek this service. In general, dealerships charge higher prices than independent shops for the same amenity.
A brake fluid change on your Toyota RAV4 will cost anywhere from $80 to $130 on average (source: autochimps.com). This price is based on the national average for all vehicles and excludes taxes, fees, or price variations based on your make and model.
Working with a neighborhood garage can help to lower your cost. Expect a price toward the top end of this range when visiting a dealership.
Changing the Fluid Yourself
Changing your Toyota RAV4’s brake fluid is not recommended as it can be a challenging process, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how it’s done. We recommend taking your vehicle to a professional to have this service performed.
That said, if you’re still interested in learning how to change a Toyota RAV4’s brake fluid, check out this video:
Changing the brake fluid on your Toyota RAV4 is critical to the proper functioning of your vehicle.
It’s important to know the brake fluid type. All RAV4 models, regardless of year, are compatible with SAE J1703 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3. 2019-2024 RAV4s are also compatible with SAE J1704 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 4.
The brake fluid should be inspected every 6 months or 5,000 miles to ensure proper levels and coloration. This can be checked under the hood near the driver’s side of the vehicle in a small plastic reservoir.
Although you could change the fluid yourself, we recommend leaving it to a professional unless you know what you’re doing. A professional brake fluid change typically costs between $80 to $130.
Let us know if you have any questions about brake fluid in the comments below!