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Old 12-22-2009, 10:54 PM   #1
Heckler
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Default Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

Got a little sloppy when I was bleeding the brakes tonight. 53 buick, front drums......put on new wheel cylinders tonight. I have a hard pedal, but the car doesn't want to stop!

Also, when it is finally coming to a stop, it's kinda "jumpy". Like it goes 'er, er, er, errrr' (like if you were slowly pushing your finger across a wet piece of glass). Ya'll know what I'm saying, right!?

I pulled everything apart and I think I must have gotten some brake fluid onto the drum/pads - the pads have a shiny/greasy look to them.

Anyway, these damn brake shoes are expensive and will take me at least a week to get new ones.

Is there something I can use to clean up the pads? Can I sand them down a little? What do you think?

Thanks! Heckler.....
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:56 PM   #2
Hyway Hauler
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

Remove your drum and spray with brake cleaner. (inside of drum, and all brake parts) Your shoes are not ruined, they are just greasy.

P.S. you can buy brake cleaner at most parts store. spray parts, blow off with compressed air and repeat.
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

After the shoes have been sprayed and cleaned, do some surfacing with some emery cloth to abrade the friction material where the brake fluid got on them. If it soaks in like from a leaking wheel cylinder it will usually cause them to chatter and grab.

Clean the drums also.
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:17 PM   #4
spununit
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

Brake fluid will not ruin the brakes, I have always used thinners to clean them, let them dry out a bit then hit them with some rough paper. You might have do it a few times if the fluid has really soaked in.
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

It sounds like you need new shoes. You can try to clean them with brake cleaner and sand them but they wont be 100%. Check the grease seal too while you have it apart.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

If they're just spattered, I've cleaned them with carb cleaner, lacquer thinner or brake clean. In the case of a blown wheel cylinder, I've usually replaced them.

In the interest of saving you a few bucks, I'll go with the others, clean, sand, reinstall and give 'em a try. If they still grab or stop poorly, replace the shoes.

Bob
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

After you clean them, if they still chatter, ride the brakes for a mile or so and burn the crud off. Note:clouds of smoke means too much pedal pressure!
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

If you need new friction material, take a look around your area (do people remember the Yellow Pages) and look for a commercial vehicle brake shop. The will be able to remove the contamiated shoe/s and bond or rivet new material on, usually for not a lot of money. this was standard practice in the day, before people decided that they needed to discard old parts and buy new ones. The metal shoes would be cleaned and relined and the reinstalled, or swapped for ones that the shop had rebuilt and had on hand using your shoes as cores to be relined and shelved for the next guy.
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

I once had a leaking wheel cylinder with new brake shoes, I just installed.
Took them off and boiled them in water with dish washer detergent for 1/2 hour and it worked. They were like new again and didn't grab.
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

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Originally Posted by Pitts64 View Post
Brake fluid ruins linings, pitch them and get new ones... Cleaning them is impossible especially with an oil based cleaner.....
From what I've read, products like Brakleen and contact cleaners for electrical devices are chemically similar to dry cleaning fluid. [Note: this refers to the 'non-environmentally-friendly products - not the ones in the green cans!] I've used these solvents many times to clean brake pads and shoes that have been contaminated with brake fluid. I [obviously] don't have a problem with using this method, as long as the contamination was [1] recent and [2] hasn't penetrated deep into the pad/shoe.

My method is to thoroughly spray the surface of the brake material and then sponge off with a clean paper towel. Repeat until there is no visible sign of the contaminant. I've never noticed any adverse performance or pad wear using this method.

Finally, as a precaution, I always wear nitrile gloves when working with this stuff... it can't possibly be good for your hands!!
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

myself i'd run 'em they'll probably wear in after a bunch of miles otherwise it shouldnt cost too much to reline them

Everyone will probably hate my post, but that is my take on it
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

Remember safety first, get yourself a pair of safety glasses or goggles, because that brake cleaner will set your eyes on fire or worse.........
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

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Originally Posted by nutajunka View Post
Remember safety first, get yourself a pair of safety glasses or goggles, because that brake cleaner will set your eyes on fire or worse.........
I'll tell ya from siphoning experience it dont taste worth a crap either
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

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Originally Posted by Hyway Hauler View Post
Remove your drum and spray with brake cleaner. (inside of drum, and all brake parts) Your shoes are not ruined, they are just greasy.

P.S. you can buy brake cleaner at most parts store. spray parts, blow off with compressed air and repeat.
Clean as outlined here. But, don't forget to re-grease where the shoe drags on the backing plate (usually 3 pads per shoe). Then, any remaining contaminents should cook out from heat while driving
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:20 PM   #15
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

Should be able to clean them with lots of brake clean and air, I like to scuff them up with a red zip wheel (scotch-bright pad on a rotary tool of some kind).
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

I've seen Speedi-Dri work in a pinch on shoes that were contaminated from a blown axle seal. Bury the shoes for a while and let the stuff leach the oil out. Cat litter might work too. However, I'd replace the shoes if they were mine.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:44 PM   #17
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

I've would just use hot water and maybe a scothbrite pad and give them a quick scuff, rinse out the drums also.. One thing brake fluid hates and thats water! Always worked for me in the past.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:53 PM   #18
john walker
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

if it's just a bit on the surface from 10 minutes ago, brakekleen usually works, then sand them. otherwise, you will never get them bone dry again, so toss them. safety first, yours and everyone in your path.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:10 PM   #19
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

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Originally Posted by redoilman View Post
I've would just use hot water and maybe a scothbrite pad and give them a quick scuff, rinse out the drums also.. One thing brake fluid hates and thats water! Always worked for me in the past.
Actually quiet the opposite - Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts and retains moisture.
Making it necessary to bleed the brakes on a regular basis and to not store brake fluid for a length of time, once the original seal is broken.

Water alone doesn't dissolve brake fluid.
That's why you need a detergent when washing it off your hands.

Boiling in water with detergent gets even very badly soaked linings as dry as they can be.
The detergent lifts the brake fluid and the boiling water flushes it out.
It's a very safe method, doesn't cost anything and works.

Solvents like brake cleaners, with a low flash point, don't penetrate much past the surface.
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Last edited by Road Runner; 12-23-2009 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:58 PM   #20
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Default Re: Does brake fluid ruin brake pads?

First you clean your brake pads as already described.

Then you see if the pads have glazed . If so, use a rasp (there is actually a special file that is used for this, it looks like a flat rasp with teeth that look like the arced scales of a fish) to roughen them up.
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