Brake Fluid Black - Can I Still Drive? - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Brake Fluid Black - Can I Still Drive?

So my brake fluid is black. Should be the color of honey or something like it when new. I don't think that I'll be flushing it myself after reading TimMullen's Pressure Bleeding the Brakes post and realizing that 1) I have to buy all of this equipment like the pressurizer 2) I need new tires anyway (2/16" left) and most importantly, 3) this will take me like ten hours to figure out.

What are the consequences of driving around with black brake fluid, for another, oh, say 500-1,000 miles? I mean I know that the brakes can possibly fail, but can it really?

Rotor and pads are still good. I'm at 10,300 miles right now.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You don't need a pressurizer, you can accomplish the same thing by pumping the brake pedal.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Change the brake fluid.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you just can't change it the right way, at least keep changing the fluid in the master cylinder until the fluid stays clean looking (i.e., change fluid, drive it a while, change it again when it looks nasty). That way you'll remove a lot of the entrained moisture that does the real damage.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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depending on who you run with, you wont be allowed on the track with black brake fluid (and with good reason).
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Old 03-20-2008, 05:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Simple brake bleeding procedure I've used from the other channel:
http://www.monkeytuner.com/forum/vie....php?f=4&t=575
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Old 03-20-2008, 06:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Change the brake fluid.
Absolutely !! If you don't know how to do it, take it to the dealer, but get it changed ! I change mine every year, but I track it quite a bit
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Old 03-20-2008, 06:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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please bleed your brakes
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Old 03-20-2008, 06:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The reason why you don't want to run with black brake fluid is that the color indicates that there's probably a fair bit of contaminants and moisture that have been absorbed into the fluid. This is intentional (you wouldn't want moisture at the caliper end translating into a brake fluid that effectively boils at 100degC.)

However, if you let it deteriorate, the moisture can end up damaging metal components in your braking system through corrosion. This just means a lot of problems down the road.

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Old 03-20-2008, 08:04 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The blackness is partly the rubber seals deteriorating, due to water in the system.

I recommend not pumping the brake pedal, esp on older cars, as you will be driving the seal into the unused, rough, corroded part of the m/cyl.

Do a search and you can see how I do it with an inexpensive Sears vacuum pump (hand operated) and their also inexpensive brake bleed kit.

The brk fluid that came with the car appears to be low quality. I use Castrol LMA, as does Tim.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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brakes have got to the most-overlooked maintenance item on this car. yet it's absolutely the most important system.

the price of having a brake system problem is pretty high.

fluid should be flushed regularly and changed at least on the suggested schedule. pads should be inspected monthly (if you're not tracking, else prior to each track day). take the wheels off. stick your head in there with a flashlight and inspect (NOT JUST GLANCE) all eight pads, leading and trailing edges, top and bottom edges. when the fluid is flushed, grab a micrometer and check the minimum thicknesses on the rotor. make sure the hub and caliper bolts are torqued properly. inpect the brake fluid lines for signs of damage. make sure the abs harnesses are being held in place by the clips.

there is a great deal of simple, yet required, maintenance on these cars. don't skimp.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:26 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Just get a friend and do it the traditional way. It took me 30 mins to do it my first time on the Elise, it's pretty much the same as any other car.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:59 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I recommend not pumping the brake pedal, esp on older cars, as you will be driving the seal into the unused, rough, corroded part of the m/cyl.
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Just get a friend and do it the traditional way. It took me 30 mins to do it my first time on the Elise, it's pretty much the same as any other car.
C -

I beg to differ. Got the hardest pedal w/my method, which requires only 1 person and can't harm the m/cyl seal.

Don't forget to tap the caliper to release air bubbles...
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:05 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Since no one else has mentioned it: be advised that brake fluid can/will damage paint. This doesn't mean that you need to be terrified of changing your own brake fluid, just that you'll want to exercise appropriate caution.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Don't let the big write-up scare you. I didn't remove my wheels while bleeding and it saved a ton of time. It probably took about an hour start to finish taking my time.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:13 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Just a note, but if you have introduced air into the system (like by cracking a fitting or changing a hose) at the front, you will have to remove the caliper from the hub and turn it upside down while you bleed it.

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Old 03-20-2008, 11:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I seriously doubt your brakes are going to fail in the next 500 miles because your brake fluid is black in color at 10,300 miles. If it were me I wouldn't lose sleep over it as long as we're only talking street driving.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:55 AM   #18 (permalink)
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As other's have noted, you don't have to use the pressure bleeder - it just makes it easier and a one man operation. The pressure bleeder that I used costs less then $50 currently, and I've been using that one for nearly 20 years on various cars. The cost of paying a dealer to bleed your brakes will be more then the cost of the tools to do it yourself - although the dealer should be able to put the ABS into "bleed mode" to do 100% of the system.

But the old two man, pump the pedal method works just fine (I have to do it on one of my cars the the pressure bleeder won't work on).

As for "can you drive" with dirty fluid?" - of course you can, you were before you discovered that the fluid was dirty. But yes, you do need to get it flushed sooner rather than later. The longer you go, the greater the danger that water contamination will cause problems/damage in the calipers, etc. But things are not suddenly going to fail in the next 10 miles. As for the lowering of the boiling point (which starts occurring the moment that you put new fluid in the system), it also will be a gradual change, and not a sudden failure. But don't go out on the track with bad fluid because that will bring out any problems with the fluid rather quickly (as it stresses the capability of the fluid).

Bottom line is that you should flush the system as soon as you are reasonably able to - either DIY or at a shop. But don't loose sleep over it if you are delayed for a short time (unless of course you are going to do a track day). The best thing is to plan to flush the system at least yearly according to Lotus' maintenance schedule (more often for tracked cars).
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but a good trick is to use an old turkey baster to suck all the "bad" fluid you can out of the master cylinder before adding new fluid and doing the brake bleed--you want to minimize mixing the old with the new. (Also note that you should compress the bulb on the baster before you insert the tip in the old fluid--saves potentially making a mess .)
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but a good trick is to use an old turkey baster to suck all the "bad" fluid you can out of the master cylinder before adding new fluid and doing the brake bleed--you want to minimize mixing the old with the new. (Also note that you should compress the bulb on the baster before you insert the tip in the old fluid--saves potentially making a mess .)
And lay newspaper/rags all over the fender etc since brake fluid is very bad for paint. Although the guy at the parts shop tried to convince me that the difference between DOT 3 and 4 is that 4 doesn't eat paint.
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