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Break fluid flush... Did I just get scammed?

Discussion in '1st Gen Tundras (2000-2006)' started by Desrat, Apr 2, 2024.

  1. Apr 2, 2024 at 3:54 PM
    #1
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    I have done the brake fluid flush myself 2 or 3 times on this truck and, honestly, doing it kind of sucks plus I think my crappy harbor freight vacuum pump may have let a little air into the system last time, resulting in a longer brake pedal travel until full braking power.

    So this time around I decide to let a shop do it. I have been to this independent shop a few times before and they always seemed good. Get the truck back yesterday, and braking definitely felt firmer/less pedal travel. Today I look under the hood and see this.

    First, it's definitely a higher level than it was when I left it off. They filled it to above or maybe right at the max line, before it was a bit over halfway btwn min and max.

    Second, what the hell is this color?! Looks like the old fluid that I flush out. Looks nothing like new DOT 3. I am tempted to say they scammed me and didn't flush a damn thing and just put more fluid in the master cylinder.

    I have a water tester but the battery is dead. While I wait for the batteries to show up so I can test water content, I want to hear your thoughts - is this a normal color for one day after a brake flush?

    PXL_20240402_223836593.MP.jpg
    PXL_20240402_223512525.MP.jpg
    PXL_20240402_224028483.MP.jpg
     
  2. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:06 PM
    #2
    w666

    w666 D. None of the above

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    It may be DOT 5.1 fluid, which has a bluish color.
     
  3. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:08 PM
    #3
    Jack McCarthy

    Jack McCarthy Truck repair enthusiast; Rust Aficionado

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    They’ve been pulling that scam since I could first drive a car and earlier. Changing fluids means partial drain and/or topping off. Easy for them and $$$ from you.

    My other favs are wiping down spark plug wires (claiming replacement), vacuuming off air filter and flipping it over, and claiming gear oil and antifreeze were changed out. Seems the only thing they actually do is change the oil.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2024
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  4. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:19 PM
    #4
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    Yeah I am just hesitant to believe they ripped me off because they are very well liked around here. Plus, they said they took the rear wheel off while they were bleeding the back and noticed uneven wear on the brake shoes and adjusted them for free (the uneven wear is true, it's something I noticed when I checked all my brakes a couple weeks ago, but I didn't tell them anything about that), which leads me to think they aren't BSing me.

    At the same time, I'm not sure why they had to take the wheel off and the drums to do the brake bleed... So many questions... I always just left everything on...
     
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  5. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:26 PM
    #5
    Jack McCarthy

    Jack McCarthy Truck repair enthusiast; Rust Aficionado

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    Unless you have a brake bleed wrench, it can be difficult to bleed the rear brakes with a standard straight box wrench (wheel gets in the way). Removal of the wheel makes it much easier. They probably popped off the drum to just take a look.

    Sounds like they may have done their job and just used the turkey baster to change out the remaining fluid in the master cylinder.
     
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  6. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:33 PM
    #6
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    But then why is the master cylinder fluid still looking kind of prehistoric? Shouldn't the old fluid have drained all thru the brake lines and new fluid put in the master to keep it at the "max" line?
     
  7. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:35 PM
    #7
    FrenchToasty

    FrenchToasty The Desert rat, 6 lug enthusiast

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    Removing the rear wheel seems odd to me. What shop so others in the area can make informed decisions
     
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  8. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:36 PM
    #8
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    Are all the brake bleeder bolts moist?...including the fifth bleeder that’s located up high on the rear load sensing valve linkage? If so, then i would say they bleed the system. But i will say that just bleeding the system is different from flushing the entire system.
     
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  9. Apr 2, 2024 at 4:40 PM
    #9
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    As in the fluid in the reservoir looks old? if that’s the case, there’s nooks and crannies inside the plastic reservoir that’s very difficult to clean. Just flushing the inside of a plastic reservoir won’t make it look shiny new again.
     
  10. Apr 2, 2024 at 5:01 PM
    #10
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    That's fair enough, but I got the batteries for my fluid tester and check it out...

    The last LED is 4%. "Urgent, change of liquid is necessary"

    :mad:

    And I just checked the receipt to make sure I wasn't insane and that I did ask them to FLUSH the brakes. "Perform complete brake system flush, bleed system, and test."

    WTF?

    PXL_20240402_235909541.MP.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
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  11. Apr 2, 2024 at 5:11 PM
    #11
    Jack McCarthy

    Jack McCarthy Truck repair enthusiast; Rust Aficionado

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    Yeah, that doesn’t seem right. The fluid in the reservoir should definitely look cleaner than it was originally. It may not be the cleanest but it should be noticeable especially if it was bad before.
     
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  12. Apr 2, 2024 at 6:00 PM
    #12
    The Black Mamba

    The Black Mamba Black Sneks Matter

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    While I can not deny the results of your tester, nor do I have any experience with one, I will say that mineral brake oil (not standard brake fluid) is green in color. It looks identical to what you have there. However, mineral brake oil is not DOT approved and is mainly for use in mountain bikes with a fluid brake system. New DOT brake fluid should be clear, translucent and or look like Mountain Dew. Sometimes brake fluid will turn green over times, which is bad, but will normally be a much darker, like tea color than what you have now. If it is not itemized on your receipt, call the shop and ask exactly what is in your reservoir.
     
  13. Apr 2, 2024 at 6:21 PM
    #13
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    I have plenty of experience with dot 3 and dot 4 fluid, having done the flush on this truck myself previously and used dot 4 to do the same on my other ride. They have always been fairly clear with a slight amber/yellow tint.

    Even if this is mineral oil and that's a normal color, uhhh.... Why would they use mineral oil!!!!

    It's (I think) a reputable place I couldn't see them doing something that stupid. I am going to go over there tomorrow and see if they can explain it or convince me my tester is wrong.
     
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  14. Apr 2, 2024 at 6:29 PM
    #14
    Jack McCarthy

    Jack McCarthy Truck repair enthusiast; Rust Aficionado

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    They definitely owe you an explanation as to why it’s green. I’ve never seen brake fluid that color myself other than when it breaks down and that’s a dirty green, not bright like it’s dyed.

    Report back when you find out. I’m curious myself.
     
  15. Apr 2, 2024 at 6:37 PM
    #15
    bfunke

    bfunke Tundra Curmudgeon

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    I think Motomaxx brake fluid is that color.
     
  16. Apr 2, 2024 at 7:18 PM
    #16
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    Don't forget about ktm dirtbikes! Their Magura hydro clutch also uses mineral oil.
     
  17. Apr 2, 2024 at 7:24 PM
    #17
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    Before you get worked up, there's a very simple test to see if it's mineral oil (which i doubt it could be) or DOT fluid. Take the Pepsi Challenge by just putting a teeny tinny bit of the fluid on the tip of your tongue. If you don't like the flavor of it whatsoever, then it's DOT. If it tastes like baby oil, then it's mineral. I know the test isn't california proposition 65 approved, but it's dead nuts quick and reliable.
     
  18. Apr 2, 2024 at 7:32 PM
    #18
    FrenchToasty

    FrenchToasty The Desert rat, 6 lug enthusiast

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    Get a tan challenge
     
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  19. Apr 2, 2024 at 7:55 PM
    #19
    MadMaxCanon

    MadMaxCanon New Member

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    Too many, but not enough....
    I have that pen tester too and it's close enough accurate to where I'd be worried about the max reading.
     
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  20. Apr 2, 2024 at 8:09 PM
    #20
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    Interesting idea but I'm not going to do it LOL, cancer concern aside:

    Let's say I do and that confirms it's mineral oil. The shop screwed up, they should be putting DOT3 or better in.

    Let's say I do and that confirms it's DOT brake fluid. OK, it's still blue and it still is testing at >4% water, so the shop didn't fully flush my system like I paid them to.

    So either way, I am still talking to the shop to get to the bottom of this.
     
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  21. Apr 3, 2024 at 3:21 AM
    #21
    BroHon

    BroHon Don't Re Member

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    I've flushed a couple systems, seen green, especially on our 00civic. But it was a dirty green not like your pictures.
    I have always done the flush solo too. Pickle jar with a few inches of fluid/elevated loop of clear tubing/pump away. But I'm slightly red-neck and cheap af.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2024
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  22. Apr 3, 2024 at 6:10 AM
    #22
    TacomaTRD4x402

    TacomaTRD4x402 New Member

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    You can ask them to show you the exact kind of brake fluid they used so you can buy a bottle and see what color it actually is and also do your test on it.

    I hate putting my trust into a mechanic I don't know. I try to do all of my own maintenance whenever possible but when I can't, I have a trusted mechanic friend I can go to.

    Hope everything works out OP
     
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  23. Apr 3, 2024 at 9:27 AM
    #23
    badass03taco

    badass03taco New Member

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    hwat?

    IMG_1226 (1).jpg
     
  24. Apr 3, 2024 at 9:39 AM
    #24
    Tyman

    Tyman Isaiah 41:10

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    Can’t wait to see what the shop says….
     
  25. Apr 3, 2024 at 11:00 AM
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    TacomaTRD4x402

    TacomaTRD4x402 New Member

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    :popcorn::popcorn::popcorn:
     
  26. Apr 3, 2024 at 11:45 AM
    #26
    Jack McCarthy

    Jack McCarthy Truck repair enthusiast; Rust Aficionado

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    It’s leftover green beer from St. Paddy’s Day.
     
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  27. Apr 3, 2024 at 12:12 PM
    #27
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    Wrench long enough in your life and you’re bound to accidentally get every sort of automotive fluid in you face, mouth, and hair. Kinda like digging a ditch, you’ll eventually get covered in dirt. Remodel enough houses and you’ll also know the taste of drywall, plywood, and fiberglass insulation. It’s just things that come with the territory.
     
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  28. Apr 3, 2024 at 2:46 PM
    #28
    Desrat

    Desrat [OP] New Member

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    Alright so this morning I talked to them and asked some general questions like "what fluid would you put in a truck that says DOT 3 on the cap" and "ok so what color should that be if the fluid is new?" so as to avoid leading the witness.

    They said what I expected them to say. It should be clear with maybe a little yellow. At that point I let them know the fluid in my master cylinder is blue and looks an awful lot like the old fluid. They said bring it in and they will flush it again for free.

    Drop off the truck and make a point to show the shop manager the master cylinder. He immediately says yeah that doesn't look right, and we go check to confirm that the fluid they put in is clear without any dyes added that could possibly give it this color. Sure enough, they are using DOT 4 and it's very clear. I test the fluid in the new bottle with the $10 Amazon brake fluid continuity checker and it measures "1%" water. Interesting.

    Anyway I leave and come back a few hours later and the fluid in the master cylinder is CLEAR now. Manager says they flushed it 3 times. Brake lever still feels good. Forgot the continuity tester so I drive home and test it. I realize that the reading this thing gives is now ENTIRELY dependent on how far into the fluid I dip the leads in. If I just touch them to the surface, it measures very low (0 or 1%). If I dip them in all the way, it goes all the way to red, 4%.

    Bottom line, I think my master cylinder was just dirty as hell and needed several flushes to get it cleared up. I no longer trust the continuity tester. I looked at all the 1* reviews (of which about 8% on amazon are) and a lot of them say that they never got it to work and it would read red, 4%, on brand new fluid bottles that just got opened. Who knows why. I could buy new bottles and experiment, e.g. try old vs new batteries in the tester, try dipping the leads in to various depths, etc. but I don't have the time right now.

    PXL_20240403_212855833.MP.jpg
     
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  29. Apr 3, 2024 at 3:49 PM
    #29
    remington351

    remington351 New Member

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    I think you are being too influenced by a $5 Chineseium moisture tester that probably costs thirty cents to produce. It's actually a pretty complicated piece of test equipment. The two prongs that are inserted into the fluid transmit an electrical charge between them. One sends the charge at certain voltage and the other prong records the charge. Depending on how much water is in the fluid, the voltage will vary by a certain amount, then the preprogrammed circuit board will translate that voltage change into a signal to illuminate a 1%, to 4% light for you to observe.

    The challenge for our thirty cent meter is that both brake fluid and water conduct electricity, just at different levels of resistance. Also, you have varying amounts of other contaminants in your master cylinder that also conduct electricity skewing your results. So, you are asking a lot of your meter to be able to detect perhaps 20-30 drops of water mixed into almost two full beer cans of brake fluid and associated crud in your master cylinder.

    I think you were best served by what you observed without the meter. New fluid is translucent amber/yellow and your crud was green. Once you pointed that out to the service manager he immediate confirmed green fluid is no bueno as well.

    The guy defending placing unknown chemicals on his tongue, well I bet he's fun to have at parties but not sure how long he can keep doing that before fentanyl, mercury, or polonium catches up to him.
     
  30. Apr 3, 2024 at 4:19 PM
    #30
    whodatschrome

    whodatschrome New Member

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    Guy?...i have a name you know. Also thanks for the heads up that my scamazon meth tester that i just ordered this morning probably won’t work. Looks like it’s back to the good ol’ tried and true lickmus test...i meant litmus test.
     

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