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Looking for DOT3 brake fluid for a 2009 Toyota Venza. There are several options in store which meet the same base specifications (DOT3, Federal Standard CVSS-116 and SAE J1703) as required by the vehicle's owner's manual.

Eg.

"Certified" (brand) DOT 3 Brake Fluid for $12.99 / 946 mL

"OEM" (brand) SUPER DOT 3 Brake Fluid, All Makes & Models for $15.99 / 946 mL

"OEM" (brand) DOT 3 Brake Fluid, Asian for $17.99 / 946 mL

The latter two mention 260C or 252C on the packaging while the first says "Dry boiling point exceeds 205C", as per the specification.

Is there any actual difference between these and other brake fluids which meet the same standards?

For a commuter (i.e. not racing) vehicle, is there any reason to buy anything other than the cheaper option that meets specifications and just make sure to do regular maintenance and flushes?

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  • Putting the dry boiling point figure on the packaging is typical marketing hype, because (1) it is higher than the wet boiling point so it sounds better, but (2) since DOT3 fluid is hygroscopic, it won't stay "dry" for long. – alephzero Jun 11 at 4:34
  • @alephzero The less expensive value brand states that it is the dry boiling point exceeding 205C, which matches the DOT3 standard. The others just give a temperature and an asterisk, without specifying what that temperature refers to. Interestingly, 260C is the standard for DOT5/5.1. – adatum Jun 11 at 4:50
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Basically, there is no difference as far as what you can use. Put away all of the hype language on the bottle and focus on the DOT3. This is the main standard you need to look at. (Here's some easy brake fluid reading for you.)

If your vehicle calls for DOT3, you should be able to use any one of the three you have listed. If it required DOT4, DOT5, or DOT5.1, the ones you have listed would not work because they are of a different standard. If you couldn't find DOT3 and found DOT4 or DOT5.1, you could use either one of those in place of the DOT3. You CANNOT use DOT5 unless your vehicle SPECIFICALLY states it takes it. Most vehicles on the road today DO NOT use DOT5. DOT3, 4, & 5.1 are glycol based fluids. DOT5 is silicone based. (The US military, and I'm sure others, use DOT5 fluid.) If you were to use DOT5 in a DOT3/4/5.1 system, the ABS would not function correctly, and would cause you other issues.

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  • Thanks for the info. There is no question of using different standards, even if I've heard some are backwards compatible. I'll just stick to DOT3 to be safe. My question is whether the hype on the bottle refers to any real difference. Some are labelled for "performance" with a higher boiling temperature, and others specifically state for "Asian" or "domestic" vehicles. Are these pure money-grabs? – adatum Jun 10 at 22:58
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    To my knowledge, you can use DOT3 in vehicles which require DOT3 fluid. A Toyota doesn't care any much more than a Chevrolet or a BMW does. If that's what it calls for, it shouldn't make a difference. If your vehicle requires DOT3, DOT3 it is. The labeling is just labeling. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 10 at 23:02
  • Thanks. The store makes a simple thing confusing. My thought was perhaps there are different types/materials of seals used in different vehicles, and the different brake fluids might be tailored to avoid degrading them. Much like the confusion around types of brake grease and potentially different rubber/seal/boot materials. – adatum Jun 10 at 23:07
  • According to aa1car.com/library/bfluid.htm brake fluid is not a generic product and aside from satisfying a (DOT3, etc) minimum standard, the corrosion protection and wet/dry boiling points vary according to the additives. I can't confirm this or any marketing claims. This site has compiled a comparison chart of several brake fluid products: lelandwest.com/brake-fluid-comparison-chart.cfm My guess (and it's purely a guess) is that for "normal" commuter use, the fluid choice doesn't matter much, and the most important is to flush regularly. – adatum Jun 13 at 20:45

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