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Old 02-23-2024, 10:24 AM   #1
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TV PM - Brake Fluid Flush

We all pay attention to oil and filter changes as part of our tow vehicle's preventive maintenance. An often overlooked service is flushing the brake fluid. I was reminded of its importance by a fellow forum member (thank you Life is a Highway).

Brake fluid is hydrophobic meaning it attacks moisture. Moisture reduces the boiling point and can contribute to corroding critical ABS components. This can lead to less than idea brake performance while towing and braking especially on long descents.

Our RAM 2500 is approaching its 5th birthday with just over 34K miles. While the RAM owner's manual does not state a specific interval to change the brake fluid, the recommendations vary from 2-5 years depending on which website you land on based on my Google search. You can purchase test strips to check your fluid's contamination. A dark color is another indication it's time to replace it.

I decided to tackle the job myself since I was an auto mechanic in my earlier days. I always dreaded bleeding brakes because it required two people and had was a pain to get all the air out of the lines. That led me to find a tool that made the job a breeze, the Speedi-Bleed.

First step is to remove as much fluid as possible from the master cylinder. I used my old MitYvaC hand vacuum pump and got a full jar. I refilled the master with clean fluid and attached the Speedi-Bleed adapter to the top of the reservoir.

Next I filled the Speedi-Bleed container with fresh fluid and connected the air hose to the compressed air source (no more than 40 PSI). Once connected I turned the knob of the bleeder's regulator to 10 PSI.

I started at the right rear caliper and opened the bleeder until the color changed from amber to clear. I repeated the process at the LR then RF and finally at the LF. I only needed to add fluid to the Speedi-Bleed bottle after the third caliper. At the end I used just under four 12 ounce bottles of fluid.

This was the easiest brake fluid flush I've ever done - and without a second person. My kit came in a nice Stanley plastic tool box - highly recommended way to go. Don't be afraid to tackle this one yourself!
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Old 02-23-2024, 11:46 AM   #2
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Good post. For those without ready access to compressed air, a Motive bleeder is an alternative. https://www.motiveproducts.com/colle...e-bleeder-kits Mine has many years of use on it and still works well although I did have to replace the plastic tube once.

While I change brake fluid in our cars myself, I concede that I have had a mechanic do it to our truck. Harder to get it in the air with good access to the bleeder screws. But the point of your post is that it is a very good idea to change brake fluid and that is a very good point.
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Old 02-23-2024, 11:56 AM   #3
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An absolute excellent reminder.

I would also add these:

Power steering fluid (I repl mine every 4-5 years)
Trans fluid (drain the deep pan and add a gallon each year that I took out)
Transfer case (every 5 years)
Front and rear axles (every 4-5 years)
Coolant (5 years- even the extended life stuff)
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Old 02-23-2024, 02:33 PM   #4
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Uses tire for compressed air

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCPAS View Post
Good post. For those without ready access to compressed air, a Motive bleeder is an alternative. https://www.motiveproducts.com/colle...e-bleeder-kits Mine has many years of use on it and still works well although I did have to replace the plastic tube once.

While I change brake fluid in our cars myself, I concede that I have had a mechanic do it to our truck. Harder to get it in the air with good access to the bleeder screws. But the point of your post is that it is a very good idea to change brake fluid and that is a very good point.
DCPAS, good point, not everyone has a compressor. There’s several great bleeding tools out there.

Out of the box, Speedi-Bleed comes with a fitting to connect to a tire to apply pressure to bleed. I chose to connect it to my compressor because they state “40 PSI max”. My HD truck tires are 65 and 70 PSI and I didn’t feel like letting out half the air.

They say you can expect the tire pressure to drop by 1-2 pounds after bleeding so not much to make up.
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Old 02-23-2024, 03:16 PM   #5
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Brake fluid is hydrophilic. It attracts water.
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Old 02-23-2024, 04:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trnpk Crsr View Post
Brake fluid is hydrophilic. It attracts water.
Thanks for clarifying that! I knew I should have Googled the term before posting Thatís what I meant to say.
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Old 02-23-2024, 06:12 PM   #7
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RE: TV PM - Brake Fluid Flush

Brake flushes have been on my preventative maintenance list since 1992 when I acquired my 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible that recommended brake fluid flushes at the 30,000 mile service interval. Something that I added to that schedule since the system was already open and the brakes would need to be bled was replacement of the rubber brake hoses at every other fluid flush. I have since put all of my vehicles on this schedule. During the summer of 2022 while performing this service on my tow vehicle, a 1992 Buick Roadmaster Limited Sedan with 87,000 miles, my mechanic discovered while replacing the rubber brake hoses that I had two metal brake lines with suspicious corrosion so went with new steel lines as well. Replacing the rubber brake hoses every 60,000 miles or six years may be a bit excessive, but after having a font hose fail on the 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham Luxury Sedan that I have owned since new, I do not want to go through that experience again.

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Old 02-23-2024, 06:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trnpk Crsr View Post
Brake fluid is hydrophilic. It attracts water.
Actually is is hygroscopic. Meaning it readily takes up and retains moisture, I guess you could say it is also hydrophilic although I don't think it actually attracts moisture, I think it absorbs moisture that is already present.
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Old 02-23-2024, 07:00 PM   #9
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I use the Motive as well, but there is yet another way some folks might not know about, gravity bleeding/flushing. I've successfully done that on my Jeep and my Superduty. The Superduty takes a very long time though for the rears.

Suck out the old fluid, fill with fresh and open a bleeder. I put a clear hose on the bleeder into a Gatorade bottle with a hole in the cap. Continue till fresh fluid runs thru the tubing, topping up as needed. Continue on to the next wheel. Proceed from the furthest to the closest in that order) Don't allow the reservoir to go all the way empty or you will have to start over and bleed out the air, which can require a scan tool for ABS.

You can also bleed air from a caliper or wheel cyl by gravity, attach a clear hose that fits the bleeder tightly and raise the end of the hose above the height of the master cyl and the air will rise to the top of the hose and out. If your air got into the ABS module though this may not work.

Another tip is to buy brake fluid in sealed metal cans when possible (getting hard to find) and do not save any leftover, once opened it should be discarded/recycled shortly after.
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Old 02-24-2024, 08:37 AM   #10
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Thanks Jeff

Thanks Jeff , After harping on you for a year proud of you. A nice post for the forum.

After years of doing it the old school way that new tool you discovered will be added to my collection. Reading its reviews and seeing professional trainers endorse it that I once worked with is all I need. It sure is a lot easier than the vacuum pump or foot method.

Folks with a new vehicle a maintenance cheat up to 3 years is just remove the old brake fluid from the master cylinder reservoir every oil change if it’s easy to access. Use a turkey baster or a vacuum pump. Replace with fresh fluid using the Dot for the vehicle. Most use Dot 4 for as it handles boiling points better.

Brake fluid in Europe is seriously maintained. In America it’s been mostly ignored.
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Old 02-24-2024, 10:58 AM   #11
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Hint - when opening the bleeder, use a 6 point socket. Not a lot of meat on the bleeder hex and easy to round with a 12 point or open end wrench.


I always hold my breath cracking open the bleeder, having snapped the end off a few back in the day, due to it being frozen in the caliper. I now apply penetrating oil a half hour before, give it a few light taps with a hammer and always replace the bleeder with a new one along with the typically missing rubber cap.


Snapping the end off is not the end of the world, as the tapered end still seals the bleeder within the caliper. Using an easy-out is hit or miss so it usually requires a full caliper replacement.




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Old 02-24-2024, 11:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greghoro View Post
Hint - when opening the bleeder, use a 6 point socket. Not a lot of meat on the bleeder hex and easy to round with a 12 point or open end wrench.


I always hold my breath cracking open the bleeder, having snapped the end off a few back in the day, due to it being frozen in the caliper. I now apply penetrating oil a half hour before, give it a few light taps with a hammer and always replace the bleeder with a new one along with the typically missing rubber cap.


Snapping the end off is not the end of the world, as the tapered end still seals the bleeder within the caliper. Using an easy-out is hit or miss so it usually requires a full caliper replacement.




Greg

Good points. Being as I grew up in the desert I always forget about you folks who live in snow/salt country and have challenges I never even considered.
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Old 02-24-2024, 01:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greghoro View Post
Hint - when opening the bleeder, use a 6 point socket. Not a lot of meat on the bleeder hex and easy to round with a 12 point or open end wrench.


I always hold my breath cracking open the bleeder, having snapped the end off a few back in the day, due to it being frozen in the caliper. I now apply penetrating oil a half hour before, give it a few light taps with a hammer and always replace the bleeder with a new one along with the typically missing rubber cap.


Snapping the end off is not the end of the world, as the tapered end still seals the bleeder within the caliper. Using an easy-out is hit or miss so it usually requires a full caliper replacement.




Greg
Great suggestions Greg!

I didnít mention I sprayed each bleeder with penetrating spray a few days earlier just in case. I have a six point Snap-On box wrench and nudged them open. Luckily theyíre on the back of the caliper and fairly protected.
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Old 02-24-2024, 03:32 PM   #14
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Bleeding Brakes: Tools to Have

I've done all my own brake work for years now and found when bleeding brakes, a 6-point box-end wrench works great. But you may want to invest in a set of flare wrenches for that as well as some of the gas connections you'll find on your AS.
When we installed our lift kit, we had to disconnect the line going around/next to one of the axle attachment points; I believe it was the one to the furnace (7 years ago).

A flare wrench allows you to get around 5 points of your gas line connectors in the event you need to replace one due to road damage or the ever-leaking flex lines from your tanks to the regulator.


Bleeding brakes: A cheap brake bleeder can be made from an empty refrigerant tank. If you have access to a vacuum pump, pull the air from the tank for about :10 to ensure sufficient evacuation. Attach an appropriate sized clear, vinyl hose to the tank and slip the other end over your bleeder screw. Open the tank's valve and now, crack the bleeder screw open until you observe fluid being drawn through the lines. As fluid is drawn down, keep the reservoir full until clear fluid appears. Do this on each bleeder screw in order of the longest distance from the master cylinder to the shortest.

I do like the bleeder kit displayed, though; may have to check into that!
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Old 02-24-2024, 08:05 PM   #15
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Hygroscopic

Hygroscopic


Brake fluid is its hygroscopic in nature, which means it has the ability to absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. This is a significant property because moisture can lead to a decrease in the boiling point of the brake fluid, resulting in reduced braking performance and potential brake failure.



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Brake fluid is hydrophilic. It attracts water.
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Old 02-25-2024, 03:14 AM   #16
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When I was a young new car dealer mech in the early ‘70s (before they were called techs) a fellow in the next bay showed me his trick which was so simple it was laughable. Turn a large can of brake fluid upside-down (quickly, with your thumb over the open cap) and submerge the can’s neck into the master cylinder fluid…allowing the can to rest on it’s own upon the rim of the cast-steel master cylinder reservoir. Wipe your thumb clean on your trousers. (the uniform-supply will deliver a fresh week’s worth of starched uniforms every Monday.)

As the reservoir level drops during draining….the upside-down can of new fluid automatically re-fills the reservoir without over-filling it. (sorta like the upside-down drinking-glass will pull water up into the glass as it’s raised up out of the soapy-dishwater-sink-before-moving-it-over-to-the-rinsewater-sink-and-into-the-drying-dish-rack. … You DO remember hand-washing dishes in a double-sink don’t you?)

(Double-benefit: hand washing dishes got your fingernails clean both of which caused the wife to allow you to help her out of her undergarments for her/your evening showers.)

(Notice it was a can of fluid and a cast steel reservoir with a stamped-steel top held onto the reservoir body by a heavy gauge wire bail. Don’t know how this might work with every variation of reservoirs in todays autos.)
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Old 02-25-2024, 07:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
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When I was a young new car dealer mech in the early Ď70s (before they were called techs) a fellow in the next bay showed me his trick which was so simple it was laughable.
Boxite, we must have been in the trade around the same time. Neat story about the old mechanic and propping a can of brake fluid in the master! You could learn a lot from the old guys. I did!

I started at a Chevy-Olds dealer in 1973 before walking across the street to Mecum Pontiac-Buick. Yup, same family as Mecum Auctions.

I passed the NIASE (now ASE) double-gear certification before getting out of the trade. Still rely on the troubleshooting skills I learned way back then!

The newspaper ad below was from the last dealer I worked for.
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Old 02-26-2024, 05:47 AM   #18
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Boxite, we must have been in the trade around the same time. Neat story about the old mechanic and propping a can of brake fluid in the master! You could learn a lot from the old guys. I did!

I started at a Chevy-Olds dealer in 1973 before walking across the street to Mecum Pontiac-Buick. Yup, same family as Mecum Auctions.

I passed the NIASE (now ASE) double-gear certification before getting out of the trade. Still rely on the troubleshooting skills I learned way back then!

The newspaper ad below was from the last dealer I worked for.
I remember you now Jeff, we have talked about Reichert before. I was from Crystal Lake and we bought our cars from Reichert, used at first then in 1965 my Dad ordered a new 1966 Belair wagon in turquoise for our big month long Southwestern road trip. In 1969 or 1970 he traded it in on a new red Olds Cutlass. I never got to drive any of them as I was too young.
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Old 02-26-2024, 08:26 AM   #19
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I remember you now Jeff, we have talked about Reichert before. I was from Crystal Lake and we bought our cars from Reichert, used at first then in 1965 my Dad ordered a new 1966 Belair wagon in turquoise for our big month long Southwestern road trip. In 1969 or 1970 he traded it in on a new red Olds Cutlass. I never got to drive any of them as I was too young.
Hey Brian, yes thatís right! Good to hear from you. Reicherts was an institution in Crystal Lake and Woodstock where they had the Chevy-Olds store. I worked at both shops.

Thatís such a cool story about your Dad getting the Ď66 Belair wagon for the Southwestern road trip. Itís what families did back then. Iíll bet youíd love to have that Cutlass now! People forget that at one time the Olds Cutlass was the #1 selling car in the USA.

I know this is getting off topic but Iím the OP soÖ

Before my dad passed he gave me a folder with invoices and window stickers from cars they purchased. I was born in June of 1955. Their first new car was a two-toned 1955 Chevy 2 Dr sedan, turquoise and white (cream?). I scanned it for grins (see below). You paid extra for turn signals, an heater and antifreeze back then!

Another was the 1969 Malibu Coupe in Dusk Blue metallic paint. I remember Dad sitting down with the salesman going through the options list to order. He was going to get the base 327 V8 but I noticed a car on the showroom floor with a 350 for $21 more. Couldnít convince him to go for the 4 bbl version but thatís okay. Now I wish I had that one today.

Anyway, good to hear from you and take a walk down memory lane!
-Jeff
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Old 02-26-2024, 09:26 AM   #20
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I hate it when they nickel and dime you charging for antifreeze.

Just wondering, so I used the inflation calculator and in today's dollars the 1955 ($2,287) is now $26,319 and the 1969 Malibu ($3,860) is $32,438. So, cars weren't exactly cheap back then either. Fully restored a Malibu goes for $35k or so according to this. So it maintained it's value if you kept the miles down and parked it for 50 years or so.
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