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Bodger Fix What they don't show you in the repair manual - tales of duct tape, bailing wire and WD 40.
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  • 1 Post By Warin

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Old 29 Oct 2012
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Exclamation Making brake fluid - when you don't have any (remote use only)


Remove all the old fluid. Flush if possible.

The brake fluid is a combination of water and dish washing detergent. The water provides the fluid action, the detergent provides seal lubrication. Yes it will boil if you use the brakes too much. Be careful, use engine braking as much as possible. Cease travel frequently and feel the brake temperature ... if hot wait for it to cool (make a cup of tea?).

Once returned to anywhere with real brake fluid ... flush the system ... anything that will clean out the water .. eg efi cleaner, carb cleaner, methylated sprits, etc etc. Then put in new fresh brake fluid. I'd then flush that out in a day or two with more new fluid...

Your braking system will be expensive to replace. Be certain you need to do this. And if you do ... spend a lot of time cleaning the water out. Consider replacing all the rubber bits in your system after using this method (might be the best way to ensure you have removed all the water).

Yes this can be used for clutch fluid, same thing with out the overheating problems?
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Old 10 Dec 2012
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I've seen a bush taxi in Guinea use straight water. If it had still been at the taxi park I'd have taken a different vehicle but out in the middle of nowhere you don't have the option.
By the way he did it I'd assume it's not at all uncommon!
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Old 22 Mar 2013
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Because water cannot be compressed.

I suppose you could use radiator water too.
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Old 22 Mar 2013
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Good tip Warin. I knew there must be something like that for hydraulics.

When the brakes on my first car packed up I used engine oil thinking 'it looked the same'. Bad idea (ruined all the seals very quickly).

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Old 23 Mar 2013
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Brake Fluid for less than $1US - Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld - BBC - YouTube

Low boiling point warning stated above still applies, as it probably will to nearly any acceptable field expedient.

Petroleum products generally unnacceptable even in an emergency. They tend to cause rubber seals to either expand or turn to black goo. Water/soap solutions can be flushed, leaving you with a restorable system once proper fluids are obtained, provided that it isn't left in there so long that it rusts or corrodes metal parts.
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Old 23 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
Good tip Warin. I knew there must be something like that for hydraulics.

When the brakes on my first car packed up I used engine oil thinking 'it looked the same'. Bad idea (ruined all the seals very quickly).

I once had engine oil on my hands when replacing brake seals, they swelled up in seconds.
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