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Old 09-02-2008, 09:37 PM   #1
PHOENIX
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Exclamation Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

I got into a rush, wasn't paying enough attention and poured about 1/4"-3/8" of power steering fluid into the brake reservoir.

The car is a 2002 Chevy Malibu.
I noticed the mistake pretty quick and got a suction syringe and pulled out a little more than I poured in. I then filled it up with brake fluid.
A buddy of mine filled his up completely many years ago and it ruined the rubber on the underside of the reservoir cap.
What should I do now?
I think flushing the entire system is a good idea, but I can't do it until the weekend and even then I may have some trouble as my back has been hurting lately. My truck is still acting up so we need the car every day.
Does the master cylinder need to be replaced?
What to do?
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Last edited by PHOENIX; 09-02-2008 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:52 PM   #2
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

If the brake pedal wasn't pushed with the wrong fluid in the MC, just replace the MC to be safe. If it has been pushed, I'd reverse flush it with the old MC still in place, then replace it. If PS fluid is thruout the system, I've never seen one end up ok without new cylinders, calipers, hoses, prop. valve, ABS unit, master, etc... it can end up a real PITA.
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:54 PM   #3
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

Well that's bad news, because I did drive it after I sucked out the fluid and put the new in. This really blows. I can't afford this right now.
How much is this going to cost me?
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:06 PM   #4
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

you be ok if you syphined out the fluid before using the car
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:23 PM   #5
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

Well, you don't have anything to lose... so I'd replace the master, flush everything, and cross your fingers. It's tough to get the ABS unit cleaned up. If it gives you troubles after that, I'd replace everything with rubber in it, and get them to "warranty" your now suspect contaminated new MC. The last job I did like this, I bought a used ABS unit from a reputable salvage yard to save some big $. Hoses & the rest are not too pricey. Labor will be the killer, if you can't (or don't have time) to do it yourself.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:28 AM   #6
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

no reason to spend money if there no damage
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:04 AM   #7
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

I drove the car for about 2 miles after I sucked out most of the fluid and replaced it. I then drove about 15 miles. I ran about 32oz of new brake fluid through the master cylinder with the brake lines off. I then bled the master cylinder.

I must not have done a very good job bleeding the MC because the brakes are a bit spongy. It stops pretty well, but the pedal is not as firm as I would like. When the engine is off and you press or pump the pedal a few times its rock hard, but when the car is running its a bit spongy.

I'll get a price from the shop across from my work to flush and bleed the entire system. Its never been done and the car has 80-90k on it, so its probably not a bad idea anyway. If my back wasn't bugging me so much lately I'd just do it myself. Plus with sharing the car right now I really wouldn't have time to do it until after 8PM or the weekend.

The only damage I know for sure is a little spot on the rubber under the cap. Its a little bubble. I'm not real concerned about it as it doesn't appear weaker than the rest, but Ill check it the next few days.
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Last edited by PHOENIX; 09-03-2008 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:13 AM   #8
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

I really hope I got lucky with this.
When I did some Google searches about this I was a bit freaked out about what I might have just done to our car. It was pretty depressing.
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

Back it the 80's when i worked at a full service gas station (remember those?) a gal with a new Jag pulls in and asked me to put in some Power Steering fluid. I started to do so and she jumps out and tells me I am putting it in the wrong place! I was a little stunned and I showed her the "Power Steering" molded into the cap. She pointed to the master cylinder and told me her husband said it goes there.

He didn't! He did! Crap. Lady, are your brakes acting funny? Yes. OK, your brake system is toast. Park it over there and call for a ride. I'll bet your glad it was him instead of you.

Just so this isn't a highjack, if you removed the fluid before pushing the brake pedal, your fine. If you have 4 wheel ABS, you may need to go to the Chevy dealer to do a computer reset for your ABS and then re-bleed. Some do, some don't. Check a Hanes manual.
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Old 09-03-2008, 10:38 AM   #10
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

I just dropped the car off at the shop next to my work. I explained it to him and he said it will probably be alright since I sucked most of it out before applying the brake. He said he has a flushing machine, it will take about 30 minutes labor + fluid. I'm guessing there is a waste disposal fee also. Sounds like its going to run me around $50-80.

Something strange though. I took off the reservoir cap off this morning to look at the bubble. The bubble is gone! I don't know if the PS fluid dried it out and the correct fluid replenished it, but the bubble is gone and the rubber looks and feels healthy.

UPDATE:
The mechanic noticed a slimy substance below the float in the reservoir so he decided to pull the MC off. He then removed the reservoir and cleaned it out real well. The cap rubber and rubber between reservoir and MC still look good so it looks like I got lucky. Gonna cost a little more for the extra labor, but not too bad.
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Last edited by PHOENIX; 09-03-2008 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:35 PM   #11
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

dont worry it sounds like its all gonna be ok now
tranny fluid eats up soft rubber.. that is why when someone really irks ya you shoot tranny fluid on their windshield its eats the wipers.. its possible that the brake fluid has fixed the weak spot on the wipers
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Old 09-03-2008, 10:24 PM   #12
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Re: Power steering fluid in the brake reservoir.

I made the same mistake once but with a bottle of stop-leak. Same size, shape and color of bottle. Labels were even the same color. Sucked all the fluid out of the m/c and put in fresh. Never caused a problem. And the stop-leak went in the trash.
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