Disclaimer: Substituting brake fluid with alternatives should only be considered as a temporary solution in emergency situations. Always prioritize using the correct brake fluid for your vehicle and consult a professional mechanic if you’re unsure.
Brake fluid is a vital component of any vehicle’s brake system. It plays an essential role in the transfer of force exerted through the pedal to brake calipers, which allows the vehicle to be brought to a complete stop.
However, there could be situations where you require replenish your brake fluid , or completely replace it however, you might be unable to access brake fluid or enough time to visit the store to buy it. In such instances you may be wondering what alternatives that you could use instead.
In this blog we’ll explore some alternatives that you could utilize as a substitute for brake fluid. We’ll also provide some tips regarding when you can safely make use of these alternatives.
Soap and Water Solution: A Quick Fix
One option for a temporary brake fluid substitute is a soap and water solution. Here’s how it works:
- Mix any type of soap or detergent with water
- Soap provides seal lubrication
- Water offers hydraulic action
This mixture has been shown not to corrode or rust the brake system. However, it’s crucial to flush out the old brake fluid before introducing this solution to avoid any negative effects on your braking system.
Radiator Water: Another Emergency Alternative
If you can’t get your hands on soap and water, radiator water alone can serve as a temporary alternative. It’s important to remember that relying solely on water can lead to your brakes overheating and potentially boiling, especially if they become too hot. This may create steam bubbles in the system, negatively impacting your braking performance.
Flushing Out the Old Brake Fluid
Before introducing any substitute solution, it’s essential to remove all of the old brake fluid from the system. This helps prevent negative interactions between the oil and the substitute solution. Once you’re back in a safe location, have a reputable repair shop flush out the temporary solution to ensure it doesn’t damage your braking system.
Important Considerations for Brake Fluid Substitutes
Remember, not just any liquid can be poured into your brake system. Brake fluids are glycol-based hygroscopic fluids, meaning they absorb moisture. So, it’s necessary to choose a substitute with similar properties to brake fluid. Mixing different types of substances is strictly forbidden.
Choosing the Right Substitute
- Verify that the substitute has properties similar to brake fluid
- Avoid mixing different types of substances
- Consult a mechanic if you’re unsure about a specific substitute
How to Check Your Brake Fluid Level
Do not wait for an emergency! Monitoring your brake fluid regularly level will allow you to avoid difficult situations and ensure that your vehicle is in good condition. Presented below is a simple guide to ensure that your brake fluid is consistently maintained at the appropriate level.
- Park on a level surface: Ensure your vehicle is on a flat and even surface to get an accurate reading.
- Turn off the engine: Wait for a bit until the engine is no longer hot before you inspect the brake fluid.
- Locate the brake fluid reservoir: Check your car’s manual to see where the brake fluid tank is located.
- Check the fluid level: Look for the minimum and maximum level markings on the reservoir’s exterior. Your brake fluid should fall between these two levels.If it’s less than the minimum the time is now to fill it up.
- Inspect the fluid’s color: Brake fluid should be clear or light amber. If it’s dark or cloudy, it may be time for a brake fluid flush.
Be sure to examine your brake fluid level regularly, ideally every few months or during routine vehicle maintenance.
DIY Brake Fluid Flush: A Comprehensive Guide
If your brake fluid is due for a flush, you can save some money by doing it yourself. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and effective DIY brake fluid flush:
Gather the Necessary Supplies
- Brake fluid: Check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended brake fluid type.
- A clear hose: This will help you see the old fluid being flushed out.
- A wrench: To loosen the bleeder screws.
- A container: To catch the old brake fluid.
- A friend or assistant: To help with the brake pedal during the process.
Flushing the Brake Fluid
- Drain the used brake fluid: Open the brake fluid tank and use a syringe or turkey baster to eliminate the old fluid. Be careful not to spill any fluid on painted surfaces, as it can damage paint.
- Refill with new fluid: Pour the new brake fluid into the reservoir until it reaches the maximum level.
- Bleed the brakes: Begin with the wheel that’s farthest from the master cylinder, find the bleeder screw, and connect the transparent hose. Put the opposite end of the hose in a container.
- Pump the brakes: Have your assistant pump the brake pedal a few times, then hold it down.
- Loosen the bleeder screw: While your assistant is holding the brake pedal down, open the bleeder screw to release the brake fluid. You’ll see the old fluid flowing through the hose and into the container.
- Tighten the bleeder screw: Before your assistant releases the brake pedal, close the bleeder screw. Repeat this process until the fluid coming out of the hose is clear and free of bubbles.
- Repeat for all wheels: Follow the same steps for each wheel, working your way closer to the master cylinder.
- Top off the brake fluid: After bleeding all the brakes, top off the brake fluid reservoir to the maximum level.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully flushed your brake fluid. Remember to dispose of the old fluid safely and responsibly at a local recycling center or automotive store.
Wrapping Up: Safety First!
While soap and water or radiator water can be used as emergency substitutes for brake fluid, always prioritize safety and use the correct brake fluid for your vehicle. These temporary solutions should be used with caution and only when absolutely necessary.
Your braking system is crucial to your safety, so make sure to consult a professional mechanic to check and maintain your vehicle promptly.
Remember, safety first! Happy driving!