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Does brake fluid have a shelf life?



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 14th 08, 10:20 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
metspitzer[_2_]
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Posts: 3
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.
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  #2  
Old December 14th 08, 10:44 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
Mortimer
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Posts: 104
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

"metspitzer" > wrote in message
...
>I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.


Brake fluid is hygroscopic (it absorbs water). I'd have thought even a good
screw stop would have let in significant amounts of moisture from the air
over the course of 15 years, rendering the brake fluid compressible and
therefore no use for applying sufficient braking force to the brakes when
the pedal was pressed.


  #3  
Old December 14th 08, 10:53 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
Steve W.[_4_]
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Posts: 540
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

metspitzer wrote:
> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.


Scrap it. Brake fluid sucks up moisture out of the air like the
government sucks up money.
Not worth the chance of contaminating the system.

--
Steve W.
Near Cooperstown, New York
  #4  
Old December 15th 08, 01:46 AM posted to rec.autos.tech
Tegger[_2_]
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Posts: 1,383
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

"Steve W." > wrote in news:gi42pb$boc$1
@news.motzarella.org:

> metspitzer wrote:
>> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
>> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.




Castrol and Girling fluids used to come in round metal cans with screw-off
caps. Even a metal cap has a polymer or coated-paper cap seal, and that's
the part that is not gas-tight. After 15 years that seal will have admitted
a lot of water molecules.


>
> Scrap it. Brake fluid sucks up moisture out of the air like the
> government sucks up money.
> Not worth the chance of contaminating the system.
>




Especially considering how cheap brand-new fluid is...


--
Tegger

  #5  
Old December 15th 08, 02:15 AM posted to rec.autos.tech
Nate Nagel[_2_]
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Posts: 4,686
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

metspitzer wrote:
> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.


If it is a metal can and has an airtight seal, it is probably OK.
However if the seal has been compromised in any way it is likely full of
moisture and only good for paint stripper. Personally I would not use
it. If it has ever been opened and partially used, it is definitely
trash. DOT 3/4 brake fluid is highly hygroscopic, this is why you
should change it every couple of years.

nate

--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  #6  
Old December 15th 08, 12:47 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
Vic Smith
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Posts: 952
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

On Sun, 14 Dec 2008 21:15:11 -0500, Nate Nagel >
wrote:

>metspitzer wrote:
>> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
>> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.

>
>If it is a metal can and has an airtight seal, it is probably OK.
>However if the seal has been compromised in any way it is likely full of
>moisture and only good for paint stripper. Personally I would not use
>it. If it has ever been opened and partially used, it is definitely
>trash. DOT 3/4 brake fluid is highly hygroscopic, this is why you
>should change it every couple of years.
>

Oh hell, I never touched the brake fluid on my '88 Celebrity in the 14
years it was in there.
Never had any indication it was affected.
Same with my current cars, one a '90 and the other a '97.
Never touched the fluid.
These are closed systems.

--Vic
  #7  
Old December 15th 08, 01:02 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
Mortimer
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Posts: 104
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

"Vic Smith" > wrote in message
...
> On Sun, 14 Dec 2008 21:15:11 -0500, Nate Nagel >
> wrote:
>
>>metspitzer wrote:
>>> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
>>> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.

>>
>>If it is a metal can and has an airtight seal, it is probably OK.
>>However if the seal has been compromised in any way it is likely full of
>>moisture and only good for paint stripper. Personally I would not use
>>it. If it has ever been opened and partially used, it is definitely
>>trash. DOT 3/4 brake fluid is highly hygroscopic, this is why you
>>should change it every couple of years.
>>

> Oh hell, I never touched the brake fluid on my '88 Celebrity in the 14
> years it was in there.
> Never had any indication it was affected.
> Same with my current cars, one a '90 and the other a '97.
> Never touched the fluid.
> These are closed systems.


Don't they have a reservoir vessel under the hood with a removable screw top
where you can check and top up the level as required? I bet that top is not
100% airtight and will let a small amount of moisture in over the months and
years. Isn't replacement of the brake fluid something that is done at
service every few years?

I imagine the same is true of the power-steering fluid (if the car has PAS),
though the effect of water in the fluid is much less severe than for brakes.


  #8  
Old December 15th 08, 01:38 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
Vic Smith
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Posts: 952
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

On Mon, 15 Dec 2008 13:02:00 -0000, "Mortimer" > wrote:

>"Vic Smith" > wrote in message
.. .
>> On Sun, 14 Dec 2008 21:15:11 -0500, Nate Nagel >
>> wrote:
>>
>>>metspitzer wrote:
>>>> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
>>>> It is in a can with a screw off top. I didn't notice the brand.
>>>
>>>If it is a metal can and has an airtight seal, it is probably OK.
>>>However if the seal has been compromised in any way it is likely full of
>>>moisture and only good for paint stripper. Personally I would not use
>>>it. If it has ever been opened and partially used, it is definitely
>>>trash. DOT 3/4 brake fluid is highly hygroscopic, this is why you
>>>should change it every couple of years.
>>>

>> Oh hell, I never touched the brake fluid on my '88 Celebrity in the 14
>> years it was in there.
>> Never had any indication it was affected.
>> Same with my current cars, one a '90 and the other a '97.
>> Never touched the fluid.
>> These are closed systems.

>
>Don't they have a reservoir vessel under the hood with a removable screw top
>where you can check and top up the level as required? I bet that top is not
>100% airtight and will let a small amount of moisture in over the months and
>years. Isn't replacement of the brake fluid something that is done at
>service every few years?
>
>I imagine the same is true of the power-steering fluid (if the car has PAS),
>though the effect of water in the fluid is much less severe than for brakes.
>


I'm sure some will argue the seal, whether the lid is screwed on or
clamped on, isn't 100% effective.
Evil moisture laden air will somehow infiltrate.
I don't buy it.
But I won't argue against changing whatever fluid you want to.
It could be a safety issue.
Just remember that pouring it in the reservoir will expose it to the
evil moisture laden air to a much greater degree than any seal
leakage. Same with even checking it. Hell, when you pull the cap it
starts sucking up water.
All I'll say for sure is I've had many cars for many years and NEVER
changed PS or brake fluid and NEVER had brake problems related to
fluid.
Maybe I'm just a lucky guy.
I will say the way I drive I can count the times I have had to stand
on my brakes in the last 30 years on less than 10 fingers.
They worked fine, with no excessive fade.
Maybe if had more emergency stops it would show up.
I'd like to see a real chemical analysis of old fluid in a normally
sealed master cylinder before I change my habits.
Problem is in the process. Going by what you hear from the
moisturephobes, just opening the lid will have it sucking up water
from the air, nullifying any lab results.
The reservoir seals I see on the GM cars I've had don't look like
they'll let any air in, and that's been good enough for me.
If anybody thought critically about this, they'd just put some air
pressure on a removed cylinder and see if there's leakage through
the cap. I'll bet they're good for a couple PSI, more than they'll
ever get from the outside.

--Vic


--Vic


  #9  
Old December 15th 08, 01:55 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
John S.
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Posts: 981
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?

On Dec 14, 5:20*pm, metspitzer > wrote:
> I found some at a relative's house that may be 15 years old.
> It is in a can with a screw off top. *I didn't notice the brand.


If it hasn't been opened and the seal is completely tight then it may
be ok. Considering how inexpensive a can is, I would just buy new and
not have to worry about contamination.
  #10  
Old December 15th 08, 03:23 PM posted to rec.autos.tech
HLS
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Posts: 1,418
Default Does brake fluid have a shelf life?


"Vic Smith" > wrote in message
> All I'll say for sure is I've had many cars for many years and NEVER
> changed PS or brake fluid and NEVER had brake problems related to
> fluid.
> Maybe I'm just a lucky guy.


Clearly, you have never owned a Teves braking system... (And
maybe that confirms that you are a lucky guy)


 




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