Brake fluid instead of LHM!!!!!!
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  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Default Brake fluid instead of LHM!!!!!!

    How's this a couple of years ago I sold my nice Low km BX TZI(except for GODDAM dog hairs imbedded in the upholstery and carpet )
    to an enthusiastic middle aged eastern european guy, I gave him the low down on the Hydraulic system and where he should take it for a service when it was due, so a couple months down the track the IMBECILE decides to top up the LHM reservoir with you guessed it FRIGGIN BRAKE FLUID after I told him not to use ANYTHING BUT LHM!!!!!

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    It gets better folks, he rings me up a couple months later asking me if I CAN BUY IT BACK FROM HIM because he's found another car and does'nt need the Cit anymore, then he goes on to say the electric windows are not functioning properly and the air/con is not very cold and I hear him say under his breath "STUPID CAR" but then he says "it's a very good car"!, I tell him I don't need it anymore so he says "ok".

    A week or so later he rocks up at my place with the car and his BIG DOG sitting on the uncovered passenger seat (I spent 3 days trying to get as many dog hairs off the seats, etc. as I could )
    and asks me again if I CAN BUY IT BACK FROM HIM!!! and that's after he told me about the brake fluid episode!!!

    WHAT A FRUITCAKE!!!!

    Surely Brake fluid would be detrimental to the seals,etc.
    Last edited by raver; 22nd February 2006 at 11:25 AM.

  2. #2
    CitroŽn, what else? smiffy1071's Avatar
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    i guess some people really are born that stupid!!! john s
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  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    I've also read that some have topped it up with coolant. "Well, they're both green, aren't they?"

    The web site also had instructions on flushing the system when such stupidity has taken place. About 4 doses of the proper flushing fluid over 20,000 km before one can feel safe.

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    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlampre
    About 4 doses of the proper flushing fluid over 20,000 km
    Wrong! 200 miles. Here's the URL:

    http://www.cybernex.net.au/clubs/ccc...ts/fluid3.html

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    Fellow Frogger! chris's Avatar
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    It boggles my mind that brake fluid continues to be the defacto standard in this day and age. Is it used anywhere else, for anything? Manufacturers aren't silly enough to use it in hydraulic power steering systems, so why persist with the awful stuff in hydraulic brakes?

    Chris
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  6. #6
    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raver
    Surely Brake fluid would be detrimental to the seals,etc.
    This says it well:

    4. What happens if I put brake fluid in my LHM system?

    Remember Chernobyl? The Citroen LHM hydraulic system will suffer an equally devastating meltdown. Even the smallest amount of the vegetable-based brake fluid could damage a Citroen LHM system to the tune of several thousand dollars. Although extensive flushing of the hydraulic system will lessen and slow down the damage, the brake fluid will attach itself to many of the larger seals and diaphrams (spheres and accumulators) and could cause further hydraulic deterioration for many coming years. Sometimes the only possible repair is to replace or reseal the entire hydraulic system. Solution? Make sure that only you or a qualified Citroen mechanic adds fluid to the hydraulic resevoir.
    Got this from http://www.citroen-ca.com/faq.html

  7. #7
    Moderator Alan S's Avatar
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    Methinks that would be Hyper hysteria.
    I know of a car that it has been done to and the owner when he twigged it had been done, simply flushed it out.
    It's not all that many years ago it was common practice to "lubricate" rubber components when installing them using brake fluid, so as the only things rubber in there are seals, why all the panic, particularly when you remember, if it was only "topped up" then what percentage brake fluid is actually in there and is it compatable with LHM or is it just floating on top of the LHM?
    Also, what would it come into hard contact with? Brakes are dead ends, spheres are more back and forth than circulatory, so in reality I'd reckon it would be height correctors and the accumulator/PR that would be the most likely to be contaminated and as I say, what % of Brake fluid would be in there?

    I'd suggest that if your buyer fed carrots to his camel, it probably wouln't kill the camel but might make it fart a lot and the same could apply to brake fluid in a BX. Not recommended, possibly make it feel a bit off for a while but not terminal.
    Of course, you don't have to tell him that when you offer him 100 bux for it.


    Alan S
    If it ain't broke, use a 12" shifter.....that usually does the trick!!

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    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    Thanks Alan, if I get my car repaired I'll refill with brake fluid, LHM is s-o-o-o expensive.

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    Fellow Frogger! Jack Z's Avatar
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    Hmmmm so does this mean that we can actually use Dexron III in our ZF auto's.... instead of DII like the manufacturer recomends....

    I mean after all they're BOTH ATF's... both made for he same application and there's only a DI between them....

    Have a lot more in common than LHM and DOT3 so couldn't possibly cause TOO much grief... surely.....
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  10. #10
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    I've seen a brake fluid DS that had LHM sphere's on it .... The diaphrams were .... gone ...... Litterally, they'd turned to a gooey sludge and dropped down onto the suspension cylinders.

    The rubber used on LHM cars is VERY different. If you soak an LHM seal in brake fluid, it'll react and be mutliples of it's previous size within a day... Most likely it'll turn to sludge within weeks.

    As the percentage of brake fluid added would be quite low, it is possible that flushing it ASAP may cause no long term damage. I'd only take the risk if I purchased the car extremelly cheaply (and that's coming from someone that would have a whole spare parts car). Just think of the seals that could be cactus...

    --power steeirng (huge quanties of fluid travel though it)
    --all those little pipe seals
    --regualator
    --all those return lines
    --spheres
    --height correctors .... etc, etc...

    Worst case scenario.... Who hydraulic system needs every hose and seal replaced

    Really you would want to flush it's fluids IMMEDIATLY. Don't believe for a second brake fluid is a cheaper alternative.... a) It'll destroy the hydraulics and seals in a very short amount of time. b) it's more bloody expensive than LHM. I know this as I have a brake fluid ID19.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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  11. #11
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Z
    Hmmmm so does this mean that we can actually use Dexron III in our ZF auto's.... instead of DII like the manufacturer recomends....

    I mean after all they're BOTH ATF's... both made for he same application and there's only a DI between them....

    Have a lot more in common than LHM and DOT3 so couldn't possibly cause TOO much grief... surely.....
    At least dexron is a mineral oil. Try a brake fluid in the slugomatic box and see what happens. At least if Dexron is put in the LHM reseviour it will not destroy every single rubber item in a short period of time

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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  12. #12
    Fellow Frogger! Jack Z's Avatar
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    I've always used ATF to get out of trouble during those times when LHM was nowhere to be found and to this point without any problems.

    In fact due to the detergent qualities of ATF it seems to act as a flushing agent and gives the whole system a good clean if the condition of what comes out is any indication.

    As long as you get it flushed and replaced with LHM within a reasonable amount of time I have never experienced any negative consequences....

    Can not imagine why anyone would even consider brake fluid


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  13. #13
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Z
    I've always used ATF to get out of trouble during those times when LHM was nowhere to be found and to this point without any problems.

    In fact due to the detergent qualities of ATF it seems to act as a flushing agent and gives the whole system a good clean if the condition of what comes out is any indication.

    As long as you get it flushed and replaced with LHM within a reasonable amount of time I have never experienced any negative consequences....

    Can not imagine why anyone would even consider brake fluid


    If it was a big enough emergency to use brake fluid .... Plain old water would probably be a better option, at least it won't destroy all the seals .... Maybe desiel or enigne oil ......... Heck just about anything that is mineral based. I can't imagine an 'emergency' that would be that bad (maybe being stuck in the middle of a desert with no available help ??).

    seyea,
    shane L.
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  14. #14
    Moderator Alan S's Avatar
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    You guys just look at the pitchers and don't read the wurds at times don't you?

    As I said, what percentage is the issue.
    I can relate to a system being totally empty being filled with brake fluid causing major grief, but if it gets say 10% in it for a limited period, you'd have to believe in the tooth fairy to think it would destroy the system in that set of circumstances.
    If you have a busted head gasket and get say 10% water in the oil, does it instantaneously blow the engine up?

    Bunch of bloody panic merchants. As I say, I've seen a GS that this has happened to and there have been no detrimental effects; that's fact not theory.
    Recommended practice is engine oil, but that's not what happened so it needs to be looked at factually and I doubt he'd have used more than say 500mls max due to it coming in 250 mls bottles and the system holds what...4 - 5 litres? and of that, how much is actually in the system?


    Alan S
    If it ain't broke, use a 12" shifter.....that usually does the trick!!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Z
    I've always used ATF to get out of trouble during those times when LHM was nowhere to be found and to this point without any problems.

    In fact due to the detergent qualities of ATF it seems to act as a flushing agent and gives the whole system a good clean if the condition of what comes out is any indication.

    As long as you get it flushed and replaced with LHM within a reasonable amount of time I have never experienced any negative consequences....

    Can not imagine why anyone would even consider brake fluid


    Jack funny you should say that!
    When I bought the BX the LHM reservoir had ATF in it so I queried
    the owner about it, he put me onto the mechanic who had serviced the car since new (an infamous Cit specialist here ).
    I rang the mechanic and asked him why he had used ATF instead of LHM, he told me that LHM was too expensive and ATF did the same job without any problems, apparently he has been using ATF for many years and swears by it!!!

    Basically that BX had ATF in place of LHM since new!
    Last edited by raver; 22nd February 2006 at 10:48 PM.

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    Moderator Alan S's Avatar
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    It's not hard to have happen; just pull into a servo with either a bloody know all or a dill behind the counter and it's as good as done.
    I personally have been told that "they all use brake fluid these days, this is what Citroen recommend" as well as being offered coolant based on "look, see it's the same stuff.....same colour."
    I wonder about the cleaning properties of ATF as I can see little reason for it to be high in detergents. Engine oil I can understand, but I get the impression that the black shit that always comes from systems that have been fed on ATF are giving up alloy particles just like the effect that rhubarb has on an aluminium saucepan.
    Recent flushes of autos that have been fed on Dex3 has revealed the fluid getting very emulsified looking even after a short space of time and the fluid gets an abrasive feel to it and as most of the ATFs are full of friction enhancers, I reckon eventually it would have to increase some of the tolerances within these systems.
    Milspec aviation hydraulic fluid I can see as a viable alternative as it has the correct mineral base and is close to LHM in composition and properties, but again, why would you use it when it's almost double LHM price.


    Alan S
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    Just to throw my into the fire....

    When I got my 1997 Hydractive 2 Xantia about 9 months ago, I discovered it had, yep, you guessed it, ATF in the LHM system, and not just a little bit either, I would say it was 95% ATF, about 5% LHM. (LHM seems to float on top of the ATF, making the oil in the tank look green when just peering through the filler hole)

    Although I bought it from an independant car dealer, they had only just bought it from Citroen NZ - yep, the main Citroen importers for New Zealand, who had bought it off the previous owner (presumably traded it in) and onsold it to the local car dealer.

    Now I know for a FACT that the local car dealer did no work to the car and definately would not have changed the LHM, which means that either Citroen NZ put ATF in it, or they DID NOT CHECK THE LHM in the tradein and discover the ATF before onselling it.

    I wonder if I should ring them up and rakk them up about it ? Legally I probably don't have a leg to stand on, but it might make me feel better

    The oil was full of black particles in suspension in the oil as you describe Alan. I've stripped and cleaned the front height corrector and it too was clogged with these black particles, which were interfering with the delay chamber operation.

    It's anybodies guess whether these black particles are Dexron III "friction enhancers" or whether it has scoured the insides of some of the alloy hydraulic components...

    I have yet to do the rear one, but no doubt it needs doing, as it has a habit of overshooting, which is a sign its clogged with grit.

    Are there any damage symptoms that could be explained by the wrong oil being present for a longish, unknown amount of time ? Well, yes.....

    Two actually, apart from the aforementioned clogged height correctors - the front Hydractive 2 electrovalve has serious amounts of leakage in the on mode, and as this is a needle valve, it is most likely that the tapered seat has either been scoured, or more likely it has particles of grit trapped on the seat preventing it from sealing properly.

    As there is a built in filter on the HP inlet the particles must be fairly small to get through.

    The second problem is major scouring and damage to the chrome (?) plating on the front suspension strut shafts, and possible unknown amounts of damage to the bushes inside the strut.

    See my post on frenchcarforum for actual photos of this strut shaft wear:

    http://www.frenchcarforum.co.uk/foru...ic.php?t=17319

    Can I prove that either of these problems is related to the ATF ? No, I guess not, but there is a reasonable chance that it is...

    By the way, all the brake lines were full of ATF too, so someone had bled all the brakes since the change to ATF....surely they must have noticed they were bleeding red oil instead of green...

    Regards,
    Simon
    Last edited by Mandrake; 23rd February 2006 at 06:28 AM.
    1998 Xantia Mk2 V6 Auto Exclusive

  18. #18
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    There is a Citroen Specialist here in Adelaide who swears by ATF in place of LHM!

    He's been involved with Citroen's for about 30+ years now!!!

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    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    In my case I was speaking in terms of a refill, not topping up. My system is almost empty with it leaking for 2 weeks and my attempts to seal it.

    So, I've got about 2l of LHM left, 10L of Transmax-M and about 4l of coolant. How should I mix this? Shaken, or stirred?

    Seriously, given that I just want to get back to Melbourne and then strip the car would a few hours of ATF hurt if I was going to remove and clean all the parts over a period of a few weeks? I'd really rather hang on to my precious LHM and use whatever else I've got.

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    Ashtray Polisher donat's Avatar
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    What about Canola in LHS cars?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlampre
    In my case I was speaking in terms of a refill, not topping up. My system is almost empty with it leaking for 2 weeks and my attempts to seal it.

    So, I've got about 2l of LHM left, 10L of Transmax-M and about 4l of coolant. How should I mix this? Shaken, or stirred?

    Seriously, given that I just want to get back to Melbourne and then strip the car would a few hours of ATF hurt if I was going to remove and clean all the parts over a period of a few weeks? I'd really rather hang on to my precious LHM and use whatever else I've got.
    Dexron II based ATF (such as Transmax M) is probably fine for temporary get-you-home use, provided that you flush and replace the oil as soon as you can...but bear in mind that ATF is more expensive than LHM !!

    Since it's more expensive, the only reason to consider using ATF is if LHM was unavailable in an emergency. If you're just trying to be a skinflint and not "waste" your LHM, then you're perhaps asking for trouble if something DOES go wrong....

    By the time you take into account that flushing the system afterwards and refilling it completely is going to use more LHM than just topping up a leaking system, you're not saving LHM in the long run anyway...

    Regards,
    Simon
    1998 Xantia Mk2 V6 Auto Exclusive

  22. #22
    Fellow Frogger! tlampre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandrake
    Dexron II based ATF (such as Transmax M) is probably fine for temporary get-you-home use, provided that you flush and replace the oil as soon as you can...but bear in mind that ATF is more expensive than LHM !!

    Since it's more expensive, the only reason to consider using ATF is if LHM was unavailable in an emergency. If you're just trying to be a skinflint and not "waste" your LHM, then you're perhaps asking for trouble if something DOES go wrong....

    By the time you take into account that flushing the system afterwards and refilling it completely is going to use more LHM than just topping up a leaking system, you're not saving LHM in the long run anyway...

    Regards,
    Simon
    The economics of my situation are a little perverse.

    I may be going over to a manual so I have little use for the ATF, and even if I get another auto the one I'm looking at has had enough DII ATF put through it to not need to worry about changing it for yonks. Once home, the TRS will be drained of fluid and the parts removed as spares so they will not be flushed with anything, unless leaving a little ATF in them causes corrosion rather than protecting them from it. In which case I'll clean and dry them and protect them with light machine oil (which will be cleaned off before re-using them, of course).

    The message isn't getting through here, I'm not keeping the TRS as a drivable car, it will be parted out. It doesn't need topping up, it's empty as the leak is very fast, even faster now that I've been stuffing with it.

    So the plan is:

    Get new line.
    Travel 750km to where car is.
    Install line.
    Fill & bleed hydraulic system.
    Drive car 750km home.
    Pull it to bits.

    The question is, what to fill it with. Cash flow is an issue right now, this thing has been bleeding me dry (pun intended). Jeez, I'd fill it with Adelaide tap water if I thought it would work, but I won't drink the stuff so I could never be so cruel to put it in a car! Even one I intend to wreck!

    The milion $$$ question is; "Will I regret using ATF for around 9 hours of driving, letting it sit for a week before I drain it and start pulling it apart?"

  23. #23
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    ATF shouldn't hurt it in the slightest for short term use such as getting home.

    Remember it's not ideal, but most DS's in the USA have been using ATF in there hydraulic system since the 70's as LHM is so hard to find. Due to extended use there is now so much wear in there systems they will never be able to go back to the thinner LHM ... All the Dexron will do wear the system faster and nasties such as that. I've used it before as a flush, and wouldn't hesitate to do the same thing again.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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    '92 Range Rover Classic ... 5spd manual.

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  24. #24
    UFO
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    It should be noted that Mandrake is speaking from an NZ perspective where, for reasons best known to oil cos, LHM probably is cheaper than Dex 2.

    LHM in Aus is around $10/l Dex 2 is around 25 to 30$ for 4 l
    Craig K
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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO
    It should be noted that Mandrake is speaking from an NZ perspective where, for reasons best known to oil cos, LHM probably is cheaper than Dex 2.

    LHM in Aus is around $10/l Dex 2 is around 25 to 30$ for 4 l
    Yeah.

    I can get LHM in bulk (5 litres or more) for about $10NZ a litre, while Castrol Transmax M is about $50 for 4 litres... some of the fancier synthetic ones like Transmax Z are more like $80 for 4 litres...

    Regards,
    Simon
    1998 Xantia Mk2 V6 Auto Exclusive

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