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#1780810 - 02/13/10 08:06 PM Brake fluid spill!
rationull Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 2666
Loc: California, USA
OK, I'm an idiot. I'm just glad I can count on only one hand the number of things that went wrong with my attempted Motive Pressure Bleeder assisted brake flush today. Fortunately, I think everything turned out OK although I'm not going to test the brakes until tomorrow when it's light out.

At any rate, I had a little bit of fluid left over when I was finished with (tired of) the brakes so I figured I'd suck some fluid out of the clutch reservoir and replenish it with new fluid. My shakey computer scientist hands, however, mixed with my relatively large bore turkey baster combined to cause the few ounces of DOT3 I had sucked out to spill next to the clutch reservoir.

I wiped up what I could with a shop towel and poured some water where it spilled to try to flush it out. But, being a cramped engine bay some fluid is probably still sitting there against the inner fender or on some wiring harness.

How bad is this? I know brake fluid isn't good stuff but I really don't want to start tearing stuff out just to wipe it up if it's not going to cause any harm.

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#1780818 - 02/13/10 08:13 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: rationull]
brianl703 Offline


Registered: 05/07/04
Posts: 10487
Loc: Manassas, VA
I'd just hit it with the garden hose.

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#1780824 - 02/13/10 08:19 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: brianl703]
cchase Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 3999
Loc: New England
Problem is it eats paint usually.

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#1780853 - 02/13/10 08:49 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: cchase]
rationull Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 2666
Loc: California, USA
I guess I could run the hose down there. I did pour a glassfull of water over it. If there's not much of it, will it evaporate or just sit there?

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#1780879 - 02/13/10 09:38 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: rationull]
crinkles Offline


Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 5493
Loc: Australia
i've had nothing but bad luck with my motive bleeder. the plastic reservoir seal between top and bottom actually started cracking because i had to make it really tight to get a seal to hold pressure.

now all i've got is a one way tube that clips onto the bleeder screw and will pedal it out next time. one man classic method.

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#1780893 - 02/13/10 09:51 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: crinkles]
JimPghPA Online   content


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 2845
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
You will nead some kind of soap or solvent to cut the oil of the brake fluid to get it off of what ever it is on.

Just water alone will not get it to absorbe into the water, and will not cary it away.

Any kind of soap from car wash to dish wash would help. Also, the warmer the water the better.

If it got on the working surface of the clutch, you will have to get a can of spray brake cleaner, but you would have to insure you do not remove grease for the throw-put bearing. You would want to only spray the portion of the clutch that is towards the ground so that the cleaner can not run onto the throw-out bearing, and remove grease from it.
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#1780916 - 02/13/10 10:07 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: JimPghPA]
Audi Junkie Offline


Registered: 11/03/02
Posts: 11247
Loc: PA
afaik, brake fluid will decompose brake/clutch materials into crumbling clay.
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#1780939 - 02/13/10 10:27 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: Audi Junkie]
440Magnum Offline


Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 6475
Loc: Texas
The only risk from brake fluid is that it may soften or even dissolve some paint. It wont hurt plastic wiring insulation or the wiring itself.

It will evaporate in time. Assuming its just dribbled down the firewall next to the master cylinder, I wouldn't worry about it unless you demand a concours perfect under-hood condition. You could do more harm trying to wipe/flush it all out than just letting it dry up on its own.



Edited by 440Magnum (02/13/10 10:29 PM)
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#1780940 - 02/13/10 10:30 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: 440Magnum]
brianl703 Offline


Registered: 05/07/04
Posts: 10487
Loc: Manassas, VA
Brake fluid is water soluble, assuming that this is DOT3/DOT4 brake fluid.

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#1780987 - 02/14/10 12:05 AM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: brianl703]
djb Online   content


Registered: 01/16/06
Posts: 497
Loc: Maryland
Not only is brake fluid water soluble, mixing with water will cause the remaining layer on the surface to evaporate much faster than it would undiluted. Much like mixing alcohol with water will cause the mixture to evaporate faster.

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#1780990 - 02/14/10 12:08 AM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: brianl703]
rationull Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 2666
Loc: California, USA
It's DOT3 fluid.

To clarify, it didn't get anywhere near any brake or clutch material. The clutch reservoir on this car is mounted on the side of one of the strut towers. If the fluid won't hurt anything but possibly some paint I guess I don't need to worry too much (not exactly in the rust belt). I definitely do not demand show-car condition under the hood of this thing :)

Maybe I'll pour some warm water down there tomorrow for the heck of it.

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#1781009 - 02/14/10 12:50 AM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: crinkles]
rationull Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 2666
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: crinkles
i've had nothing but bad luck with my motive bleeder. the plastic reservoir seal between top and bottom actually started cracking because i had to make it really tight to get a seal to hold pressure.



Ouch, that's pretty bad. Did it actually cause a leak, or you caught it in time and stopped?

As far as I can tell, the chain on the "universal" pressure cap is supposed to loop around the bottom of the master cylinder. Of course a lot of cars nowadays have sort of "remote" reservoirs, or strangely shaped ones. My Civic has a remote plastic reservoir -- the master cylinder is barely even visible due to the cab-forward design causing the engine bay to be half covered by the cowl. I had to loop the chain around the reservoir, but I put a thick piece of cardboard between the chain and the plastic. I cranked it as tight as it would go but still couldn't hold more than 5-6 PSI which apparently wasn't enough for continuous flow. No damage though, AFAICT. The problem is the shape of the bottom of the reservoir precluded putting the chain directly under the center of the cap, so it was applying unbalanced pressure and letting air leak out through the back of the opening.

Oh well, I may still get my money's worth out of the bleeder on one of our other vehicles.

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#1781453 - 02/14/10 01:30 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: djb]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
If you just bled the brakes, why did you want to exchange the fluid in the reservoir? It should be minutes old!

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#1781818 - 02/14/10 07:23 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: mechtech2]
rationull Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 2666
Loc: California, USA
I was exchanging the fluid in the clutch reservoir, which I did not bleed (clutch fluid is in a separate reservoir on this car, but it still takes DOT3 like the brakes).

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#1783849 - 02/16/10 02:14 PM Re: Brake fluid spill! [Re: brianl703]
bigmike Offline


Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 3239
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By: brianl703
I'd just hit it with the garden hose.


+1

No harm done. Just cover anything you need to cover and spray it down. I don't see the big deal??
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2006 Chevy Silverado LT 4.8 - QS 5w30, Napa Gold
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