Cars

What to do with the leaking brake fluid

Brake system failures can be divided into two main types:

– brake fluid leakage causing the failure of all brake cylinders;
– caliper jamming that is blocking the wheels so the car can’t move

The first one is up when the warning light flashes signaling the lack of brake fluid, or, if things are going from bad to worse, when the brake pedal is “caving in” into the floor.

In this case, you gotta find the leak (it is well recognizable by the trail of fresh runs on the inner side of the wheel – just take a look underneath a car).

If liquid level is dropping but there are no runs, this is a distinctive feature of vacuum hydraulic unit failure: the liquid drains into this bulky jar through the torn membrane. Service station repairs and brake system bleeding are required.

If you find runs on the inner side of a wheel – that’s because the brake cylinder piston cups are leaky. To make it to the station, just refill the liquid tank with the stopgap. However, this is when all kinds of trouble happen: having refilled the tank with soapy water, you press the brake pedal, and it begins to slowly go down. You press again – same old same old. After several attempts the tank is empty again What if you’re up for a long trip?

In that case, you have to: fully refill the empty tank yet again, raise the wheel with malfunctioning cylinder off the ground, take it off, cut a piece of rubber off a tire tread using a knife (if there’s an old tire knocking around somewhere nearby, it may be just a tad more reasonable to rather use it instead), unscrew the brake pipe off the cylinder, place the piece of rubber into the hole where the pipe is screwed, screw the tube back in place.

That piece of rubber will not allow the brake fluid to enter the malfunctioning cylinder,
and voila, you get a properly working braking system on all wheels. This is more than enough to get to the service center even in the challenging road conditions.

With the brake pipe fully unscrewed, the stopgap fluid will run out little by little. When the tank gets empty again, air gets into the system, and you can forget about correct operation of the remaining brakes. So you better stick to the above sequence of steps.

Should you find the leakage of fluid from some place other than a cylinder, from the brake pipe itself – lock it above the point of damage with several strong hammer blows (put a stone or something similar under the pipe to avoid damaging the bodywork). The pipe is wasted anyway and has to be replaced, so don’t hold yourself.

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