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O/T: Mundane old stuff on the shelf.

April 15 2017 at 6:38 AM
kleandan  (Login kleandan)

I know we all have some, you pretty much can't help but gather at least a little over time.
I'm talking about simple maintenance things that we use but have somehow never been used for one reason or another.
I am not talking about hard parts like carbs and intakes.
Yesterday I was fiddling with a car and checked the power steering level, it was a little low.
Off to the shelf to get some fluid to top it up. There were four bottles of power steering fluid.
The open bottle was at least 25 years old. The next bottle in line was from a local auto parts store that has been closed for 15 years and has never been opened. The two behind that bottle were newer but certainly not new and also never opened.

I chuckled, used up the old bottle, and went about my day wondering how much other old crap I have still waiting to be used.

What kind of accidental old stuff have you got waiting to be used one day?

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(Login lhstanford)

I have several brake fluid bottles lol, tons of others.

April 15 2017, 8:54 AM 

Something leaks though. wish i could figure out which one

This message has been edited by lhstanford on Apr 15, 2017 8:56 AM

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(Login 32bantam)


April 15 2017, 7:25 PM 

Lots of common automotive stuff here but what comes to mind is a can of Vinco boiler cleaner from the 40's... No idea why I need that but I can't seem to toss it out. I guess being in nice shape with hand drawn graphics has earned it a spot on the shelf along with old wax tins and other junk.

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Rich Ferguson
(Login RichFerguson)

Get rid of the old brake fluid.

April 16 2017, 4:55 AM 

Only use fresh brake fluid from an unopened container.

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(Login kleandan)

I know all about this but still I question the logic.

April 16 2017, 8:28 AM 

I know non-synthetic brake fluid is hygroscopic. It will absorb moisture from the air.
Where I find the "toss all opened brake fluid" mentality to become dubious happens in practice.
For instance, I'm doing a brake job and begin with a brand new bottle of brake fluid. I open it, fill the master, close the bottle and begin my work. If I need more fluid I open the bottle, pour in the needed amount, close the bottle, do the work.
Now I am finished and I still have a 1/2 full bottle of brake fluid. I ensure it is closed tightly and place it on the shelf.

YES, the brake fluid will absorb the microscopic amount of moisture that was in the air in the void created by me pouring out what I needed. While the scientific proof is there about moisture absorption the amount of moisture in the available air is not detrimental to the brake fluid in the no longer exposed container.

HOWEVER, that same brake job may go, by most car enthusiasts, untouched for two to three years often times more.
The fluid in the master cylinder IS exposed to atmosphere and will absorb moisture all the time because it is constantly being given moisture to absorb.
Yet nobody gives that a second look. The brakes work great...all is well.

But that danged open bottle MUST be tossed out because it is now junk fluid after being opened?

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Gary B
(Login Garyford)

"the logic" would seem to compare the permeability of the screw on cap

April 18 2017, 8:48 PM 

with that of the factory foil.

I am with you on this Cleandan, it seems like advice that was given back when tin cans with screw lids had not much seal or perhaps even in reference to open bottles without a cap.

I just used several old bottles I was too cheap to throw away, to flush thru the system on a truck I bought that apparent was contaminated with water and rust. After much flushing and observing the stream gradually turn from soupy to clear, it is apparent that clean brake fluid sitting in a can with a closed plastic cap is a LOT better stuff than most of what is in our cars.

How many folks flush their brake fluid every 5 years?

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(Login JoeTorino)

Shelf stock

April 16 2017, 5:19 AM 

I just used my last gallon of Castrol 20/50 oil that I bought at least 20 years ago from big lots for $5.00! I also have a glass bottle of Harley Davidson oil additive! JoeZ

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(Login machoneman)

Old oil is fine but not opened brake fluid.

April 16 2017, 8:22 AM 

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(Login kleandan)

Copied directly from your reference.

April 17 2017, 7:04 AM 

"Because of their affinity for atmospheric moisture, hygroscopic materials might require storage in sealed containers."

This suggests storage in a properly sealed container will control the hygroscopic effect.
If the sealed bottle will not control the hygroscopic effect the fluid will be bad regardless of it being open, closed, new or old.

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(Login machoneman)


April 17 2017, 2:05 PM 

Once the bottling plant sealing is broken, it's quite hard to determine if screwing the cap back on really does well seal a used bottle. It's too cheap to take a chance I say.

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(Login beoweolf)

Just saying... So,sending all old brake fluid to Land fill is...??

April 18 2017, 7:23 AM 

I've resurrected more than few old cars, trucks - hydraulic systems over the years. I don't know wharever the heck comes out of bleeding those old systems, but the gunk is often nearly solid, brownish. Maybe a mixture of rust, old rubber (neoprene?), and sometimes - actual water.

The point is, I tend not to use previously opened containers of brake fluid - just like I've been taught. However, the question is valid today more than it was in the past, what do you do with the leftovers? You can't - or at least,shouldn't mix it with used motor oil and I've never seen anyplace which says it takes "brake fluid".. so, maybe you just take it to those "free" HazMat collection points... dump it - to kill weeds behind the shed?

I do admit to using the old Brake fluid, sometimes - when doing a flush of an entire, old system... where I know I'll be wasting a lot.

... does that make me a gross polluter?

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(Login Posi-67)

It's some of the best paint remover..

April 18 2017, 6:52 PM 

known to mankind.. I like the weed kill idea as well.

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(Login kleandan)

With plastic bottles...

April 20 2017, 6:36 AM 

Checking the cap seal with flexible plastic bottles is easy.
I pull the foil seal and remove ALL the seal.
When I install the cap I squeeze the bottle and listen for air escaping.
If I hear no air escaping I have a good seal.
If I do hear air escaping I try to figure it out, it is usually a little debris under the cap.
If I can't seal it I don't keep that particular bottle. Only once has this happened.

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