Spongy brakes? Brake pedal goes down more than usual? Brake light on? You may be low on brake fluid. This picture guide walks through the steps of adding brake fluid to your Toyota Corolla.

Typical signs that you are low on brake fluid:

  • “Spongy” brakes
  • Stiff brake pedal
  • Brake pedal goes all the way down
  • Brake pedal goes down further than you remember before it ‘grabs’
  • Signs of brake fluid leaks on the ground under your car
  • Visual check of the brake fluid reservoir
  • ABS brake light turns on, on the dashboard
  • Noisy brakes
  • Brakes ‘acting weird’
  • etc…

One thing to mention is that it is not normal to run low on brake fluid. If you find yourself with low brake fluid, you may have a leak. This can be a serious condition and you will want to get that addressed ASAP.

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That being said, there may be other reasons for low brake fluid, such as recently changing brake pads, and some of the fluid overflows the reservoir while compressing the brake cylinder. You will also need to add brake fluid while bleeding your brakes.

This procedure is shown on a 2004 Toyota Corolla. This will also apply to 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Corollas as well.

Tools and supplies needed:

Alright, let’s get started!

Step by Step Procedure

Okay, the first step is to check the level of the brake fluid. This is easy to do. Pop the hood and locate the brake fluid reservoir. It is located near the firewall on the right side of the picture below.

Here’s a close up of the brake fluid reservoir. Notice the “MAX” fill line on the outside. You want to fill up the fluid to this line. There is also a “MIN” link lower down on the reservoir that is difficult to see in this photo.

As you can see, the brake fluid is about an inch (2.5 cm) below the MAX line. We will go ahead and add some fluid.

The cover is rubber and just pulls off. Keep in mind that you don’t want to leave the brake fluid exposed to the air for any longer than necessary. Why? Because brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air. As the water level in the brake fluid increases, it becomes less effective. This is also why you want to make sure any un-used brake fluid is kept in a sealed container.

All that to say, once you remove the cap, do the fill and replace the cap relatively quickly.

Once you have removed the cap, pour in some of the appropriate brake fluid. The 2003-2008 Corolla’s take DOT 3 brake fluid. Check your vehicle’s manual to verify whether you need DOT 4 (many cars, including this one, specify the correct fluid on the cap of the reservoir as well).

Add fluid until the level reaches the MAX line.

Then replace the cap. Make sure to press it down sufficiently so that it seals properly.

And that’s it!

Did you know you should change brake fluid every 2-3 years? Check out this post to learn how to bleed your brakes and fill up the reservoir with fresh brake fluid!

Click on this link to more articles for maintaining your 2003-2008 Toyota Corolla!