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Thread: Brake Fluid Quality and Changing

  1. #1
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Question Brake Fluid Quality and Changing

    For those of you who arenít familiar with me, Iím cheap. Flushing the brake fluid properly is currently beyond my own capability, and I'm too cheap to pay for one. I just use a dedicated turkey baster to suck out what I can from the reservoir. The tip of the baster is modified to fit at least partly into the ring thing that floats on the fluid. After adding fresh fluid, I presume that diffusion and other causes will eventually result in the old and new fluid becoming a uniform 'refreshed' fluid.

    So, my question is: How long would it take for the old and new fluid to become a uniform 'refreshed' fluid?

    FWIW, when I look at a small amount of the old brake fluid, itís a greenish colour. When I look at a lot in a glass jar, itís practically black. The fresh stuff is relatively clear, so I seem to have a long way to go before the contaminants are sufficiently diluted to make me happier. I can get a liter (close enough to a quart) of brake fluid for about $10. This would give me about six cheapie turkey baster fluid changes. Unfortunately, I can't tell the colour through the wall of the reservoir. Iím interested in finding out what sort of schedule I should use. Thanks in advance.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

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    GMN = life johnunit's Avatar
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    When we flush the brake fluid properly (bleeding through all 4 bleeders one by one while refilling the reservoir), it takes roughly a full bottle before everything looks clear-ish.

    a couple thoughts:
    1. you're not getting any of the crap that has collected in the lines out by just sucking and filling the reservoir
    2. if you insist on not at least popping one bleeder open (literally removal of a wheel and turning one thing with a wrench) you'll find that the fluid will almost literally never change colour no matter how much you use this method. Why? because there's dark particulate at the bottom of the reservoirs and probably in the lines that you aren't flushing.

    Here's what my car, less mileage but more age, had in it's master cylinder. A turkey baster won't help this, especially with the newer reservoirs having that ring thing in the way




    As for what I'd do if I was using that method? Maybe one suck and fill ever thousand KM until it looks 'clear enough'.

    85 4 door 351 Civi Crown Victoria - Summer daily driver, sleeper in the making, and wildly inappropriate autocross machine
    160KMs 600cfm holley, shorty headers, 2.5" catted exhaust, 255/295 tires, cop shocks, cop swaybars, underdrive pulley, 2.73L gears.
    waiting for install: 3.27's, Poly bushings, boxed rear arms, 2500 stall converter, ported e7's, etc

    06 Mazda 3 hatch 2.3L 5AT (winter beater that cost more than my summer car)

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    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Awesome information. Much appreciated!

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  4. #4
    Member Louis's Avatar
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    You can always do a gravity bleed, takes a long time but you then have all fresh fluid thru the entire system.

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    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    You can always do a gravity bleed, takes a long time but you then have all fresh fluid thru the entire system.
    I probably should have pointed out that I'm not only cheap, I'm lazy too. On the other hand, I did recently see something that was advertised as a one-person brake bleeding kit, and I think the idea was that you attach a container with fluid to the reservoir so you don't need someone adding fluid while you're pumping the brakes. Is that what you're referring too? This might end up being a good example of someone (i.e. me) changing his mind after a second thought.
    Last edited by IPreferDIY; 07-25-2014 at 12:13 AM.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

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    GMN = life johnunit's Avatar
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    the pump is basically to assist in gravity bleed. Gravity bleed is literally opening the bleeders and letting it slowly drain out by itself while checking the reservoir occasionally. It's sort of a crapshoot though. I left the car with the brake lines detatched at the rear wheel cylinders for a week while waiting for a part and it still only half drained the reservoir. The pump may be a good idea in your case.

    85 4 door 351 Civi Crown Victoria - Summer daily driver, sleeper in the making, and wildly inappropriate autocross machine
    160KMs 600cfm holley, shorty headers, 2.5" catted exhaust, 255/295 tires, cop shocks, cop swaybars, underdrive pulley, 2.73L gears.
    waiting for install: 3.27's, Poly bushings, boxed rear arms, 2500 stall converter, ported e7's, etc

    06 Mazda 3 hatch 2.3L 5AT (winter beater that cost more than my summer car)

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    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    I'm planning on trying my hand at flushing my brake fluid properly soon. My car has ABS. As I understand it, when merely flushing the fluid (rather than bleeding air), there is a special procedure that could be used to circulate the new fluid through the ABS unit, but this is not absolutely necessary (unless you're bleeding air). Is this right?

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  8. #8
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    as long as you don't get it airbound, its not a big deal. if you want it to move some fluid through the ABS unit though, just find a dirt road and slam the pedal. It will kick the ABS in and move fluid through the unit. Thats actually how you get air out of one if you don't have the special tools to get the ABS unit to cycle.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  9. #9
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Cool

    My biggest fear had been getting air in the system, but I managed to do it without messing things up. The rears had a nasty brown color at the start, and I can't imagine that ever being improved with the suck and fill method.

    For the sake of enlightening other novices, here's a good how-to YouTube video by EricTheCarGuy demonstrating a one-person pumping method:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5O_pbC8R2E

    and here's some pointers from my own one-person limited pumping method:

    1. Before opening anything up, pump the brakes to get them nice and stiff. I also did this after finishing each line (with the reservoir cap re-tightened) before going on to the next line (with the reservoir cap loosened), though I probably didn't need to since the stiffness remained constant throughout. I never bothered to pump the brakes with the bleeders open. The fluid was constantly dribbling out, so this presumably eliminated any chance of getting air in the system when refraining from pumping.

    2. Suck out as much fluid from the reservoir as you can, and top it up with fresh fluid before going to the bleeders.

    3. I'm not sure what the big deal is about the order that you do the brake lines in (presumably it has something to do with the inner workings of the brake system), or whether the order is as significant for fluid flushes as it is for bleeding air out of the system. One principle I heard was do farthest to nearest, so I did right rear, left rear, right front, left front. Everything seemed to be okily-dokily. I went through about a half liter (close to a half quart) by the time I was done.

    4. Check the fluid level often, and keep topping it up to at least the full line. I went past the full line, but not enough to soak the inside of the reservoir cap when I put it back on. Brake fluid apparently absorbs moisture from the air, so the extremely cautious approach would be to put the cap back on without tightening it down (so air can still get in when the fluid drains).

    5. Use a six-point socket on the bleeders for the initial loosening and the final tightening of each bleeder. It's too easy for a wrench to slip if the bleeders are really tight. If the bleeders seem unexpectedly tight, be firm but don't overdo it. Snapping off the top of the bleeder probably wouldn't be too hard to fix, but it would probably be a huge PITA.

    6. In my case, the fluid would have simply dribbled out if I didn't put a tube on the bleeder. With the tube on the bleeder, it seemed like only a small amount would accumulate in the tube and then stop. What I did was lowered the tube enough to drain what had collected, raised the tube to see the next accumulation, and repeated this until the fluid was clear enough for my liking. This method takes a little while to get all the old fluid out, so it wouldn't be good for someone in a rush.

    7. When you're done, do whatever it is that you normally do when you accomplish something.
    Last edited by IPreferDIY; 09-10-2014 at 01:57 AM.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  10. #10
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    a lot of that order stuff is based on older non-ABS cars that used a common line. Your car should have 4 individual brake lines. Older cars usually had 2, one for the front and one for the back. It would tee at some point, so you did the furthest one away, then the other one in the back, then the same in the front. The idea was that you got the garbage through the long lines first, then you only had the short bit from the tee to the bleeder on the second part. Pre-1968 cars had a single circuit that split 4 ways. I expect it really does not matter all that much on a modern vehicle.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  11. #11
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    I decided to do a suck and fill recently to see how much of an improvement I got. Here's a before-and-after photo:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The two jars on the left were from various suck and fills as well as the flush, which required only about a half quart. There was mixing somewhere along the line, so I can't say one jar shows one while the other shows the other. I think it's a safe bet that my father never had the fluid changed before I started doing suck and fills at about 125,000 km.

    Judging from the remaining green color, I'm planning on doing another flush sooner rather than later. Does anyone know what causes the green color? (i.e. whether it's the deterioration of the fluid itself or from something in the brake system?)
    Last edited by IPreferDIY; 05-19-2015 at 04:56 PM.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  12. #12
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I believe its moisture in the fluid that causes that.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  13. #13
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    Clear to tan to green with moisture.

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    What exactly is a suck and fill?

    Sent while thinking of new mods for my 96 TC, using Tapatalk.

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    Algae!

    Cheaneyt: changing fluid out by just removing it from the reservoir with a vacuum pump or a Turkey baster or such.

    Sent from my XT557 using Tapatalk 2
    Last edited by sxcpotatoes; 05-19-2015 at 06:57 PM.
    ,
    Slicktop '91 GS HO 4.30 rear. '82 Mark VI Tudor HO, '90 F-150 XLT, '62 project Heep, '89 Arizona Waggin' and '88 donor in PA, getting combined.

  16. #16
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    algae growing in wet fluid would make sense. Amazing some of the shit that will grow in. Ever see a diesel or heating oil tank that had algae growth? Its full of black slime that will plug your filters. Quite gross.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  17. #17
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    I’m starting to buy into the algae explanation. The jar on the right in the photo in post #11 above seemed fine enough, considering that whatever was in the ABS unit would’ve contaminated the fresh fluid. But, here’s a photo after doing a second suck-and-fill using the same jar:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And here’s the same jar after a third suck before another full change:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I was able to get a constant dripping this time around. I think the problem last time was having the end of the hose in the fluid in the collection jar, causing an air lock.

    Instead of trying to eyeball the color when doing the recent full change, I decided to mark the collection jar and go by volume. On the third line, I realized I could do both by putting white cardboard behind the jar to clarify the color. A big drawback was that the tip of the hose has been dyed green, but I could still see the change. Here’s a photo of the collection jar beside the other jar:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I used a little over half a quart. I’m going to do another change soon to use up the other half and see what happens.

    Incidentally, I didn’t bother with any pumping of the brakes this time around. It didn’t seem necessary.

    On a side note, I had about 50mL of brake fluid leftover from the last suck and fill, and the container happened to get cracked, so I decided to leave it outside as an experiment to see how long it would take for the color to change. Unfortunately, the container ended up empty after being knocked over twice, though I hadn’t noticed any change after several weeks.
    Last edited by IPreferDIY; 11-07-2015 at 11:43 PM.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  18. #18
    BANNED! sxcpotatoes's Avatar
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    You also aren't controlling the "how long until the brake fluid turns green from moisture" experiment properly unless it's in a metal container the same material as the brake lines. Just sayin'.
    ,
    Slicktop '91 GS HO 4.30 rear. '82 Mark VI Tudor HO, '90 F-150 XLT, '62 project Heep, '89 Arizona Waggin' and '88 donor in PA, getting combined.

  19. #19
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Having one plastic container and one metal container would be even better, but it's not something I'd go out of my way to try. Too lazy.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

  20. #20
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    I had planned on doing another brake fluid flush long ago, but that didn't happen. I finally did it last Friday (with year old fluid; yeah, I know), and it was still pretty bad (so even the year old stuff has to be better). I couldn't get a good indoor picture of the fluid tonight, but it was pretty much like in the jar on the right in post #11 above. There's no black or brown quality, but it's still quite green. I guess it will take quite a few flushes before it gets acceptably clear, and I'm planning on doing a couple more in the spring.

    There might actually be a chance that the brakes are feeling a bit better, but Iíve only driven it once since that last flush.

    The moral of the story is ďDonít neglect your brake fluid.Ē

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising), KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (after >202,000 km on originals)

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