In the automotive market, initially mechanical brakes were used which were gradually replaced by hydraulic brakes, where brake fluid was required. The first hydraulic system was developed in 1914 by Frederick Duesenberg, an American automotive pioneer. Today, most automotive brake fluid is either silicone based (DOT5) or glycol based (DOT3).
Most drivers check their engine oil or tire pressure regularly, but very often drivers check the brake fluid in their vehicle. Automotive brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic clutches & brake applications in motorcycles, automobiles and some bicycles. It plays a crucial role as it transfers force when a driver applies the brake. Additionally, automotive brake fluid helps prevent corrosion and serves as lubricant for all movable parts.
Automotive brake fluids, across the world, are regulated products and need to meet certain specifications and recommendations set by industry agencies and associations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Japanese Standards Association (JSA the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations (FMVSS), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and GB12981-2003 in China.
The burgeoning demand for vehicles in countries like China and India is forecasted to drive growth for the automotive brake fluid market. Companies are establishing production sites in these regions so as to satiate the local demand. For instance, BASF opened an automotive brake fluid production plant in Pudong, Shanghai to support the demand of local customers; which in turn is driving demand for automotive brake fluid in China. However, the lack of awareness/understanding among end user is restraining growth of the global automotive brake fluid market.
The main route to this market is via the aftermarket, which includes workshops, automotive service centers and retailers for supply to DIY (do it yourself) end users. The retail aftermarket includes general & automotive retailers and petrol forecourts. The remaining market for brake fluid is held by OEMs for the first fill in a vehicle. Therefore, tie ups with OEMs becomes an important driver across all regions since they provide an assured route to the market through the sale of new cars.
Automotive brake fluid are of two types: petroleum and non-petroleum. Petroleum-based automotive brake fluids are rarely used in the automotive industry. The DOT (department of transportation) classifies automotive brake fluids by their chemical composition and boiling point. Therefore, the global automotive brake fluid market can be segment by type as: DOT 3 (glycol ether based), DOT 4 (glycol ether based/borate ester), DOT 5 (silicone based), DOT 5.1 (borate ester/glycol ether). DOT 5.1, DOT 4, DOT 3 are based on poly glycol compounds and DOT 5 is based on silicone. Gylcol fluids are used in 99% of the motor vehicles in various grades.
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Additionally, most cars run on DOT 3 which has lower water content since fluid causes corrosion in the brake system. Brake pistons, cylinders and lines undergo wear and tear as a result of braking over a period of time. The cost of replacing any component is significant and replacing brake fluid can help save a major portion of that cost. Automotive brake fluid varies from vehicle to vehicle, depending on various factors such as model, vehicle production year and type of brake system.