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Old 06-22-2009, 06:31 AM   #1
Waco OP
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Old brake fluid

If a partially full bottle of DOT 4 brake fluid has been sitting on the shelf for a few years, with the cap screwed on tight, is it OK to use for brake fluid replacement?
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:46 AM   #2
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Don't quote me or anything, but everything I've ever read says to toss it and get a new sealed bottle. The problem is that brake fluids absorb water from the atmosphere, and it's unlikely that you've got a true hermetic seal from just the cap.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:02 AM   #3
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Any open brake fluid that's been around at least 6 months, I chuck.

I use a Sharpie™ to mark the date opened on the cap so I can keep track of how old it might be.

Don't cheap out on your brake fluid. It doesn't cost much new, but the price of being "thrifty" can be quite expensive.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:44 AM   #4
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you can quote me.

Deep six it.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:44 AM   #5
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Toss it out.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:40 AM   #6
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I heard that at least the DOT 3 which absorbs more water than 4, takes on 5% a year. So in 5 years it's 25% water in the bottle.
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2speed
I heard that at least the DOT 3 which absorbs more water than 4, takes on 5% a year. So in 5 years it's 25% water in the bottle.
And just think, after 20 years it's ALL WATER!!!!
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDLuke
And just think, after 20 years it's ALL WATER!!!!
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:33 AM   #9
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Well that's what I get for anecdotal evidence. According to this you can use it.

Water absorption and corrosion
The big bugaboo with DOT 3-4 fluids always cited by silicone fluid advocates is water absorption. DOT 3-4 glycol based fluids, just like ethylene glycol antifreezes, are readily miscible with water. Long term brake system water content tends to reach a maximum of about 3%, which is readily handled by the corrosion inhibitors in the brake fluid formulation. Since the inhibitors are gradually depleted as. Since the inhibitors are gradually depleted as they do their job, glycol brake fluid, just like anti-freeze, needs to be changed periodically. DOT 5 fluids, not being water miscible, must rely on the silicone (with some corrosion inhibitors) as a barrier film to control corrosion. Water is not absorbed by silicone as in the case of DOT 3-4 fluids, and will remain as a separate globule sinking to the lowest point in the brake system, since it is more dense.

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Old 06-22-2009, 03:27 PM   #10
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Just get new fluid.
I change the fluid in all master cylinders at least once per year. Cars and bikes with this thing:

Home made evacuation device:

Action shot:
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2speed
Well that's what I get for anecdotal evidence. According to this you can use it.

Water absorption and corrosion
The big bugaboo with DOT 3-4 fluids always cited by silicone fluid advocates is water absorption. DOT 3-4 glycol based fluids, just like ethylene glycol antifreezes, are readily miscible with water. Long term brake system water content tends to reach a maximum of about 3%, which is readily handled by the corrosion inhibitors in the brake fluid formulation. Since the inhibitors are gradually depleted as. Since the inhibitors are gradually depleted as they do their job, glycol brake fluid, just like anti-freeze, needs to be changed periodically. DOT 5 fluids, not being water miscible, must rely on the silicone (with some corrosion inhibitors) as a barrier film to control corrosion. Water is not absorbed by silicone as in the case of DOT 3-4 fluids, and will remain as a separate globule sinking to the lowest point in the brake system, since it is more dense.

Using this as evidence, you could argue that you should never change your brake fluid. Is that the point you were trying to make?
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSWayne
Using this as evidence, you could argue that you should never change your brake fluid. Is that the point you were trying to make?
You want your brake fluid to absorb water (DOT 5 does not do this). Brake fluid absorbing water is a good thing. If it does not absorb water, think about what happens when the weather gets below freezing. Ice does not make a good brake fluid. The next problem is on the other side of the coin. Too much water absorbed will lower the boiling point of the fluid. Once the brake fluid boils, gas bubbles are introduced into the brake system. These gas bubbles never go back to liquid form. Just like having air trapped in the line. That is why it needs to be replaced often and why you should only use "fresh" brake fluid. If it has been opened for more than 6 months, I don't want to take the chance. It's just not worth it to me.

***** Don't confuse DOT 5 with DOT 5.1. DOT 5.1 is mineral-based just like DOT 3 and DOT 4 and will work in DOT 3 & 4 systems. Why they named this DOT 5.1, I will never know... just adds to the confusion.

Waco Kid, just get some new fluid and dump the old stuff on some weeds. (Oh no! It will end up in our ground water and we will all die!)
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:15 PM   #13
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Already bought some, but after reading the instructions, it looks like I need a lot more.

How much do speed bleeders help? I've replaced brake fluid before, but this will be my first attempt on a BMW with ABS.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waco Kid
How much do speed bleeders help? I've replaced brake fluid before, but this will be my first attempt on a BMW with ABS.
I have a BMW with ABS.
I purchased some speed bleeders a while back and I never installed them. Bleeding the brakes is so easy (after I got a mityvac about 10 years ago) I don't know why I bothered wasting the money on speed bleeders. Others may love the speed bleeders though. Also, I have heard tails of people braking them off. Some people are "heavy handed" with their wrenching. I would suggest spending your money on a Mityvac before spending money on speed bleeders. YMMV

BTW, Do you want my speed bleeders?
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSMark
I have a BMW with ABS.
I purchased some speed bleeders a while back and I never installed them. Bleeding the brakes is so easy (after I got a mityvac about 10 years ago) I don't know why I bothered wasting the money on speed bleeders. Others may love the speed bleeders though. Also, I have heard tails of people braking them off. Some people are "heavy handed" with their wrenching. I would suggest spending your money on a Mityvac before spending money on speed bleeders. YMMV

BTW, Do you want my speed bleeders?
My goal is to do my brakes tomorrow, so I guess not.
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