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Windshield washer fluid in brake fluid reservoir
Old 07-25-2009, 04:12 PM   #1
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Windshield washer fluid in brake fluid reservoir

Help,
I just poured about 2 or 3 tablespoons of windshield washer fluid in my break fluid reservoir. What do I need to do? I haven't driven the car yet.

I guess the difference in color should have tipped me off before I started pouring, huh. Helpful suggestions appreciated. I feel really dumb right now.

Thanks.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:24 PM   #2
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Use a turkey baster siphon out all or as much fluid as you can from the reservoir. Refill with the right stuff.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:30 PM   #3
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Thanks, never thought of that....obviously.
Appreciate the help.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:40 PM   #4
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Water is going to sink in oil. So, I'm assuming that a brake reservoir taps the oil from slightly above the bottom for just this reason. So, you *might* be able to get the water out from the bottom. But...

1) Brake fluid absorbs water.

2) WW fluid also has alcohol and detergents in it.

3) Water is VERY bad in your brake fluid. As your brakes get hot, the water (or alc in this case) will boil and produce a gas. Gas is compressible, liquid is not. Your brakes will not function.

4) Brakes not functioning is bad for your retirement plans, but will allow for a very high % SWR, for a very short time.

If you think you got most of it out, I might cautiously drive to the car fixer-upper place, and have them flush your brake fluid. It is a good preventive maint thing anyhow, and it is not expensive. Lotsa car guys recommend it, my Uncle was an aircraft mechanic, and he always did it himself. If it were my car, I would not drive at high speeds or even moderate traffic or long distances until it was flushed.

-ERD50
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:47 PM   #5
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What ERD said unless you feel right flushing it yourself.
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:00 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the feedback. I just syphoned out what I could and we're going to flush it next. I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:49 PM   #7
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Turns out it was the radiator overflow reservoir, not the brake fluid. Apparently draining and flushing that is easier than brakes. I have competent help taking over for me. Thank goodness.
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:58 PM   #8
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Turns out it was the radiator overflow reservoir, not the brake fluid. Apparently draining and flushing that is easier than brakes. I have competent help taking over for me. Thank goodness.
You don't need to drain your coolant if you put 3 Tbs of washer fluid in the overflow tank. It will be fine.

Now, regarding the stuff you syphoned out--if it was coolant, take it to an auto parts store and have them dispose of it properly. If it was the common green stuff with glycol in t, be very careful not to leave it in an open dish. Dogs like the taste of it, and drinking it will leave them blind or dead.
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Old 07-25-2009, 07:00 PM   #9
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Turns out it was the radiator overflow reservoir, not the brake fluid. Apparently draining and flushing that is easier than brakes. I have competent help taking over for me. Thank goodness.
Awww shucks, here I was getting set to brag that I saved someone's life today

Yes, a small amount of WW fluid in the coolant is probably not a problem at all. But just to be safe, you could flush the coolant reservoir. If you have not driven it yet, nothing in the reservoir would have mixed into the coolant in the engine, so no worries at all.

Flush it and refill with the recc mix of coolant/water (usually 50/50).

-ERD50
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:09 PM   #10
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Thanks again for all the advice. The coolant has been replaced....I'll drive it in the morning and make sure all is well.
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:12 PM   #11
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KB, now that your immediate problem is resolved you should do yourself a big favor and NEVER PUT YOUR HEAD UNDER THE HOOD AGAIN!!!
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:26 PM   #12
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Check your owners manual for when you should change the brake fluid - it might be time.
I do it every 30k or 40K miles. - it is easy and relatively inexpensive at Pep Boys
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:29 AM   #13
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KB, now that your immediate problem is resolved you should do yourself a big favor and NEVER PUT YOUR HEAD UNDER THE HOOD AGAIN!!!
I figured that out yesterday.
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:11 AM   #14
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Check your owners manual for when you should change the brake fluid - it might be time.
I do it every 30k or 40K miles. - it is easy and relatively inexpensive at Pep Boys
Now we are slightly drifting off topic, but I'd second the brake fluid changing, especially for vehicles driven in the mountains or with heavy trailers. The reason is that if your brakes get hot enough, they will boil brake fluid with water contamination. Once it is steam - no brakes! All brake fluid absorbs water vapor gradually over time .
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:13 AM   #15
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Great follow ups to the first aid.
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:46 AM   #16
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In the FWIW dept. (and now that the serious business has been taken care of):

Best buddy's (currently ex) wife was so proud when he came home from work one day. "Honey, I filled your car radiator up with water - it was low." Warily, he checked the radiator and there didn't seem to be any liquid showing at the top. On a hunch, he checked the oil. Sure enough, gravity feed forced oil - and water out the dip stick hole. She had filled the crank case - to the top of the oil filler in the valve cover with water. He emptied everything, changed the oil filter and refilled with oil and experienced no problems. Everyone has to get lucky once, I suppose. (The "X" nature of his relationship had nothing to do with this incident.)
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Old 07-27-2009, 02:51 PM   #17
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Now we are slightly drifting off topic, but I'd second the brake fluid changing, especially for vehicles driven in the mountains or with heavy trailers. The reason is that if your brakes get hot enough, they will boil brake fluid with water contamination. Once it is steam - no brakes! All brake fluid absorbs water vapor gradually over time .

Go to speedbleeder.com if you want to spend $70 or so making your
car much easier to perform this procedure on, homey. (I was taught
never to end a sentence in a preposition). Just make sure they sent
you the right size before you try to screw them in.
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Old 07-30-2009, 05:47 PM   #18
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I have a power bleeder too. Works great for 1 man brake bleeding/flushing.
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