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Brake fluid on tires?

Over the years, I’ve heard of people using brake fluid as tire dressing. This doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, but I can’t find any documentation that says it will affect the rubber. All I can find is opinions and I’d like to hear from a credible source like a tire manufacturer. Can someone point me in the right direction?



Assuming that it did not damage the rubber, I would expect that it would attract dirt, and would wash off with water. Doesn’t sound like a very desirable dressing to me. Is it possible that someone was pulling your leg?

One of my older brothers did this for years. This was before ArmorAll came out. It didn’t last long but didn’t seem to harm the rubber.

Google is your friend…

While it’s a different type of ‘rubber’, brake fluid is fine for all the rubber parts in the brake system, so it probably won’t hurt the tires.

I don’t use any dressing on tires. The best way to make them look good is to clean them. Wesley’s Bleach White works GREAT. Spray on…use a tire brush…rinse off.

Any oil you put on the tires is going to attract dirt. It may look good the first 100 miles, but after that it’ll look like crap. I find the same problem with the Armor-all Dressing like products. After the first 100 miles it needs to be reapplied or it looks like crap again.

I sure wouldn’t want brake fluid slung onto my paint as I drive.

Sorry, but the rubber in brake lines is quite different than the the rubber used in the sidewall of tires - typically natural rubber.

At the moment I can’t find a good reference for brake fluid specifically on tires, but most tire manufacturers do not recommend anything other than soap and water.

It will not hurt the tires, brake fluid is in contact with rubber all the time, caliper seals, wheel cylinder cups, etc.
But, brake fluid does not play well with paint and if applied to tires, and then gets slung onto the fenders and quarters you may have paint damage.

Sorry, but the rubber in brake lines is quite different than the the rubber used in the sidewall of tires - typically natural rubber.

There is no totally natural rubber used in tires. Synthetic rubber is one of the great inventions of the last century. How can you spot synthetic rubber? It’s known by its color, which is black. Brake fluid is too expensive to use on tires, especially if you accidently get some on your paint, which will be removed very quickly.

Sorry, but as of last week, there were still bales of natural rubber being processed at our tire plant. Haven’t checked yet this week.

Synthetic rubber = Black? Sorry, synthethic rubber is amber to a light brown. It’s carbon black that makes it black - and that’s why a lot of rubber is black, not the type of rubber.

Understood, natural rubber in tires, not (necessarily) in seals, hoses, etc. But is natural rubber damaged by brake fluid?


Natural rubber and the types od synthetic rubber used in tires will absorb petroleum products. This causes the rubber to swell and lose its properties. Moral: Don’t park in pools of oil.

There are several different types of brake fluids and my understanding of rubber chemistry is limited, but some of those types will leach out some of the desirable components within the rubber matrix. I can’t say for sure that these would necessarily lead to cracking, but for sure changing the rubber chemistry mix is not a good idea. In the past when I mentioned brake fluid as a sidewall treatment, all my chemistry buddies look at me cross-eyed! I’ll see if I can get a better answer.

Brake fluid is not hydrocarbon-based. It is water soluable, glycol-based.

Reread my post, hoses are different I agree but there are seals in the m/cylinder, calipers and wheel cylinders and if I remember correctly (it has been a bit)these are made of natural rubber, but nevertheless, why would anyone do this?

It is my understanding that when seals swell, that promotes the seal, so that would be a good thing, but swelling of brakes lines - not so much. Since sidewall rubber is under tension, I would expect swelling to be bad as well.

After reading the responses so far, I don’t think you are going to find the definitive answer you seek.

For what it’s worth, I think you should play it safe and only use tire dressing on tires and brake fluid in the brake system. Using any product that is not designed for application on tires is risky since there is no way to know the possible long term effects. If your 50,000 mile tires blow out with 30,000 miles on them, you will have no way of knowing the cause.

I agree Whitey, and have no intention of putting brake fluid on my tires. BUT, I told a guy who does it that it’s dangerous and he said that was a myth. I just thought I could find some credible proof that it really is harmful. So far I haven’t found it.

It can be a tough chore, finding alternate uses for things. You can make a really long weed whacker with a $20 Black & Decker, a 1X2 that is about seven feet long, a brick, some wire ties and duct tape. You can turn brake fluid into Dot 4 Thousand Islands Tire Dressing. It’s available in a low calorie synthetic too. Call an auto mechanic if you have a flat tire lasting more than four hours. Not recommended for cars with high tire pressure. Gives no protection against wheel borne diseases.