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 Brake Fluid Replacement??

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matthew
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PostSubject: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 02 Jul 2009, 21:25

I'm wondering about replacing the brake fluid in my '04. I'm assuming it's never been done. I've read opinions about whether this is necessary or not, with a lot of people thinking it's not. Honda manual says do it every two years. It just seems like it couldn't hurt on a now 5 or 6 year old bike.

I'd like to know if it's a straightforward job or not, and what exactly the procedure is. If anyone has done this and has pictures of it, that would be fantastic.
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masscoot
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 02 Jul 2009, 23:26

Brakes are something not well documented on this or other forums. Maybe because they are straightforward and fairly simple to do. I have never attempted brake maintenance myself because, I don't want to find out the hard way I've done something wrong affraid .

What I can tell you is that Brake fluid is very unfriendly to plastic parts so before you begin the job make sure the dash or other plastics are covered well.

One other characteristic of brake fluid is that it has no color, it is clear. When you look in the viewing windows on the reservoir it should be clear. As brake fluid becomes contaminated (from air & moisture) it will turn amber to a darker brown. If you have neither of these conditions and the brakes are working fine then leave it alone. If you notice that your fluid level is down you can top it off.

One thing you should do is to visually inspect all of the rubber brake lines for any sign of cracking or deterioration. If you find any cracking (similar to dry rot on tire sidewalls) you have a reason to drain and replace fluid as you replace the brake lines.

I'd love to see a tutorial on brake pad replacement and or brake bleeding for the SW. We have almost everything else documented quite well!
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Cornishman
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Fri 03 Jul 2009, 03:31

Good post and reply. I look forward to a tutorial from the more mechanically adept.

Edit

These youtube clips may provide some insight. Bike brakes work in a similar way so generic advice should help.

Youtube clips
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matthew
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Fri 03 Jul 2009, 11:25

Thanks. I'll take a closer look at the fluid windows to check for discoloration, although whenever I've done this I can't really tell if the color is off or not. (Maybe that's a good thing). I understand that it should be clear, meaning, I guess, transparent, meaning I shouldn't really see the fluid at all?
And I'll look at the hoses to check for cracking.

Anyone else have a pictorial, or other experience to share?

I'll also have a closer look at my shop manual to see if they cover this procedure.
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MikeO
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Fri 03 Jul 2009, 15:59

I understand brake fluid should be changed every three years. The dealers my partner and I used did it on my bike and his BMW at least that often.
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honda_silver
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Fri 03 Jul 2009, 17:44

matthew wrote:
Thanks. I'll take a closer look at the fluid windows to check for discoloration, although whenever I've done this I can't really tell if the color is off or not. (Maybe that's a good thing). I understand that it should be clear, meaning, I guess, transparent, meaning I shouldn't really see the fluid at all?
And I'll look at the hoses to check for cracking.

Anyone else have a pictorial, or other experience to share?

I'll also have a closer look at my shop manual to see if they cover this procedure.

I am planning on changing my brake fluid this winter. I am investigating the Harbor Freight brake bleeder ( http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=92474 ) to reduce the possibility of air bubbles.
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matthew
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Sat 04 Jul 2009, 14:14

Sure looks like it would be worth 20 bucks (plus a few more for shipping of course). Maybe it would also help with the plastic protection issue? Keep things a bit neater?

Also, thanks for the youtube link. Gives me a good starter understanding of the process, and makes it more clear that the bleeder kit is a good idea.
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MikeH
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Wed 08 Jul 2009, 13:45

I just changed the fluid and bled the brakes. This was a first time experience, so I made a few 'oops' but was able to work through it thanks to some advice from Jake on the yahoo forum. I documented my experienced and wrote the following tutorial. Hopefully it will be of help to others.

http://www.4shared.com/file/116785031/2a6569e9/Brake_bleed_tutorial.html
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matthew
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Wed 08 Jul 2009, 14:46

Hey Mike, thanks a million. Great tutorial, and warnings. One of the video clips in an above post shows a gizmo - basically a bottle - that automatically re-fills the cylinder as you're bleeding, presumably eliminating the need for an assistant. I can't remember if the Harbor Freight bleed kit - also above -has this feature or not.

Ride safe, with fresh new firm clean fluid and operation.
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dickie
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 09 Jul 2009, 10:52

Great Post...I appreciate you taking time to do this. I have used the mityvac for years but just purchased an air operated bleeding system and will try it on my GL1500 some time soon. We are getting ready for an August trip to Branson. I will probably change the Swing this winter. I suck all the old fluid out of the resevoir with a turky bastor and fill it up with fresh fluid prior to starting the bleeder process. This gets fresh fluid thru the lines faster. Also lets you wipe out the bottom of the resevoir while it is empty. You will not induce air this way because the lines are still full up to the resevoir. It is when you are sucking fluid thru the lines and allow the resevoir to go dry that will get a person in trouble. And as you indicated having someone filling the resevoir while bleeding is the answer. You may see a few air bubbles in the line while sucking the fluid which comes from the air around the bleeder screw threads but usually does not create problems because it comes around the threads and directly into the clear line while suction is induced. You can use vasoline or something similar to smear around the thread portion of the bleeder before starting which generaly cures this if you are concerned. You can also squeeze the brake and open the bleeder while the brake is pressed to force fluid out but make sure the bleeder valve is closed prior to the brake lever traveling all the way. This is a slower way and usually takes two people in coordination to accomplish bleeding this way. It works fine as this was the method prior to vacuum tools. Some people still prefer to do it this way and I would if I did not have the proper tools. I have speed bleeders on the GL1500 and have never liked them. Just could not get results that the vacuum units gave me. Of course that just may be me. Thanks again. Dick
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Fri 10 Jul 2009, 04:42

Thanks for info and tutorial!
Really useful!
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matthew
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Mon 20 Jul 2009, 13:59

Holy Shite! Here's a phase one report on my attempt to bleed the brakes:

I read Mike's tutorial; I even read the Yahoo forum posts from Jake; I bought me a MityVac and 4 bottles (12oz each) of Dot 4 fluid (not enough, as it turns out). So far I'd estimate that I've put in about 6 or 7 hours over 2 days. The job's not yet done.

Here's what I've experienced, and learned so far:

1) using the MityVac is a pain in the butt. I think my right hand will be sore for at least a week, if I can even use it at all.

2) Jake was right, you'll need (or I'll need, maybe you're different, or more experienced) a lot of new brake fluid. I've gone thru the 4 bottles and need more, and that's with re-using one bottle for about 2 hours - a no-no, by the way, since I guess it gets air in the fluid as you re-use it and re-pour it, so you end up bleeding air that you keep putting back into the system. Whew!

3) DO, I repeat, DO grease the threaded part of the bleed valve. Let me repeat this in case you mis-read it: DO, DO, DO, grease the threaded part of the bleed valve. Why, you ask? So that you can avoid hours of frustrating attempts to bleed air that keeps seeping into the line thru this valve as you're trying to bleed the system. As soon as I put some vasaline on this valve the line stopped taking on air, and the vacuum capability of the MityVac increased to a meaningful level. DUH!

4) As Mike said, and as everyone else who ever bled their brakes has said or has learned the hard way, DO NOT allow the master cylinder to drain of fluid and start sucking air. Mine just barely started sucking air - I could hear it - before I re-filled the cylinder, but this minimal lapse on my part made it necessary to re-bleed what may have been a pretty well bled rear line.
Re-doing this job is NOT something you want to have to do. It's enough of pain to begin with.

5) It is nice when you start to see your bleed line running clear of air bubbles. But don't be fooled. There's probably more air in there further up the line, and you'd be well advised to keep bleeding for a good while longer. Then you can experience the sinking feeling of having your accomplishment go to hell on you.

6) After 6 or 7 hours of this nonesense I'm not even close to the "rock hard" feeling in the levers that one is supposed to aim for. I've begun to doubt that I'll ever have the pleasure of knowing that feeling. I've been tempted to quit several times during this process so far, and if it hadn't been for my decision the try greasing the threads, I probably would have.

7) If I ever wish to inflict this same suffering on myself in the future - do it every two years? I understand completely why people NEVER do this job - I may just get a power operated (compressed air as I've discovered) bleed kit with an attached re-fill dispenser for the master cylinder. I can only imagine that this would make the task tolerable, maybe even simple, and lend itself to the recommended service cycle.

There's probably more, but I guess this is all I can bare to say for now. I'm hoping that I'll be able to complete the job successfully - finally - and will have the brakes I deserve, goll darn it!

Whoever is thinking of trying this for themselves: BE FOREWARNED! The first time, I suspect, is NO FUN AT ALL. At best, it will be a valuable learning experience. Or, it just might be the kind of thing that decides a person to, next time, take it to the pros.

Good luck! Final report awaits!

Oh, and my bad. I did pump the rear brake lever several times, in and out, while the bleed valve was open, not realizing that I was bringing air back into the system. This no doubt contributed to the problems I've had particularly with the rear brake lever continuing to be mushy.

By the way, I just read in a wikipedia article that a successful bleeding job will NOT necessarily result in a "rock hard" feel to the lever. There are other factors which can contribute to a continued slightly mushy feel, such as pad wear (I think). The rule of thumb seems to be that the lever should feel no worse than when you began, and hopefully a bit tighter.
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mickey
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Tue 21 Jul 2009, 06:05

I haven't done it, but if there is a bleed valve on the caliper it should be pretty straightforward. Suck everything out of the master cylinder, refill with fresh fluid, and pump it out the bleed valve using the usual "Squeeze.....wait......ok, squeeze.....wait.....ok" method. (Guaranteed to cause marital friction.)

Remember that the rear lever also actuates the center piston on the front caliper. I don't know how they address that issue. If there are two bleed valves on the front, the answer is obvious. If not....then I have no clue.

I've never had any success with any sort of "one man brake bleeder" system. Do the two-person version, no matter how much it annoys your wife.

Get a chunk of clear plastic tubing to attach to the bleed valve so you can direct the fluid into a container. As mentioned above, it WILL ruin paint and plastic parts! Nasty stuff. Barely crack the valve open. Otherwise fluid will leak around the threads and cause a mess. (It might anyway.) And make sure your help does not release the handle until the valve is CLOSED.

It'll take several open-close cycles to get the fresh fluid through the lines and caliper. I've seen colored brake fluid for sale to help make it more obvious, but the stuff is cheap enough I've always used the Overkill Method.

I've never done this on a bike, as I mentioned, but dozens of times on cars. It's messy and annoying, but not complicated. If the pedal (or handle, as the case may be) feels spongy, you have air in the system. Period. It's that simple.

I've been told that if you do this every year, preferably in the spring, you will NEVER have hydraulic problems with your braking system. It will outlast the bike. Brake fluid is strongly hydrophilic and absorbs water from the air. Water is the killer, not "old fluid." Keep it fresh and clean and the seals have no reason to dry up and rot. Always buy brake fluid in small containers, and don't bother trying to save the leftovers. Any container that has been opened should be discarded after you're finished. Be obsessive about cleanliness. A tiny bit of grit or oil in the system can literally kill you.
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mickey
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Tue 21 Jul 2009, 06:13

matthew wrote:
Etc, etc.

If you replace the pads you can expect it to take a while before the brakes feel normal again. Understand that when you squeeze the handle the pistons don't slide through the seals. There is so little movement involved that a slight flexing of the seals is sufficient to allow the piston to push the pads against the rotor. When you install new pads, the pistons have been compressed too far and it takes many applications of the brakes to gradually get them back into a happy place. You actually have to wear the pads out slightly before this happens, so expect a little "sponginess" for a while.

If you don't have any leaks in the master cylinder seals, and you do not allow the masters to suck air from an empty chamber, and you make sure you pour the fluid carefully so as to avoid bubbles, then there is no reason why you should get air into the system from the top end. It's impossible. If there is air in the system, and you haven't installed new lines or anything like that, then the air is in the calipers. Probably close to the bleed valve. Therefore, clear fluid coming from the bleed valves that is free of bubbles means there is no air in the system and your "sponginess" is probably due to the issue I discussed above. Air compresses a LOT, so sponginess caused by bubbles will be more severe.

Checking for leaks is simple: Squeeze the handle hard and maintain pressure. If it gradually sinks all the way down, then you have a leak. If it stays put, you don't.

In a car system, where the master cylinder is split between Front and Rear, it's possible to have a leak BETWEEN the circuits. You can have a "sinking pedal" and never lose fluid. That one caused me some serious puzzlement once.
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Tue 21 Jul 2009, 06:18

Another thought just popped into my head. Maybe a long shot.....

Ever heard of "cavitation"? It's the phenomenon that causes bubbles to appear behind a boat's propeller blades even though it's under water.

I suspect it's possible that if your helper squeezes too hard on the handle and you suddenly release the pressure you could get a cavitation-like phenomenon that would cause bubbles to appear by magic throughout the system. The brake levers and hydraulics are designed to greatly multiply the force applied to the levers. As long as your helper maintains "positive" pressure you won't suck air at the bottom end. So I'd suggest you tell them to concentrate more on maintaining a constant pressure until you tell them to release the handle than trying to muscle it. Also, try to crack the valve open VERY slightly so that fluid just oozes out. That'll maintain pressure inside the system at a fairly high level as the lever is squeezed.

Just a theory.
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Wed 17 Mar 2010, 20:32

I am looking at the Honda Service manual "Brake System" chart.

It shows
"DOT 4" . It does not show how much fluid for a complete brake fluid
change ... I am trying to determine how much Amsoil DOT-4 fluid I want
to order.
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MaxB
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Wed 17 Mar 2010, 23:15

Things not mentioned:
1. Hondas do not use Silicon based brake fluid. You can use mineral based (like at most auto parts stores. DO NOT mix the 2 types. they are incompatible.
2. I have found that if you get air in the line at the upper cylinder, sometimes air gets caught in the banjo bolt on the master cylinder. To clear this air bubble , it is necessary to crack it and squeeze the lever and close while squeezing it to get that last bubble out.

I use the harbor freight suction type that was mentioned by Honda_silver. It is a good unit for the money.

MaxB
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 18 Mar 2010, 09:09

MaxB wrote:
Things not mentioned:
1. Hondas do not use Silicon based brake fluid. You can use mineral based (like at most auto parts stores. DO NOT mix the 2 types. they are incompatible.

I am curious how you found this??

How do you know if brake fluid is "Silicon based" or not then?
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 18 Mar 2010, 12:48

I'd say the standard "DOT 4" will cover the composition. DOT 3, DOT4, and DOT 5.1 are all polyethylene Glycol based. DOT 5 is Silicon based.

I know it is wikipedia, but you have to start somewhere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOT_4
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Thu 18 Mar 2010, 13:04

What I meant is that the standard, which is DOT 4, defines the requirements for composition and performance. In the case of composition, the DOT 4 standard is similar to DOT 3 and DOT 5.1, but different from DOT 5.

The rest of the differences between the standards I do not know. I'm sure that data points such as boiling temps, viscosity, water absorbsion and many either things make up the DOT # standards.

Honda does specify DOT 4 for our SilverWings, but does not include the data Bill (honda_silver) is most interested in - how much is needed for a full flush.
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PostSubject: Re: Brake Fluid Replacement??   Sun 23 Apr 2017, 12:28

I replaced my brake fluid on both my 05' and 06' Silverwings.

I started off with the front Caliper I used a turkey baster to remove Most of the fluid in the right reservoir, till brake fluid was just above the hole in the bottom of the Brake Fluid reservoir, and just filled it to the top full line inside the reservoir and then loosened the Top drain fitting on the front caliper, and pulled out the fluid with Vacuum pull, when that was done and clear fluid came out of the caliper, I topped off the Brake fluid, and put the reservoir Cover back on.

I changed to the Lower fitting on the front caliper and removed the cover on the Left Reservoir, I removed the fluid with the turkey baster to just above the hole in the bottom of the left reservoir, added fresh DOT 4 brake fluid to top it off, and put a Mity vac to pull old fluid out, until it came out clear, always refilling BEFORE it goes dry and sucks air into the system.

I then Moved to the Rear Caliper, still at the Left Reservoir, pulled more fluid out till new clean Break fluid was pulled out of the rear caliper.

Tip: If you get air into the brake line by accident!!, Or as a precaution do it anyway as it makes sure all air is out of the lines, I have done this for years and on 20+ different Motorcycles.
I get a short bungie cord, Tywraps what ever you have, and tie one around the brake Lever and grip, so it pulls in the brake lever, leave it pulled over night or a couple nights, the air in the line will work its way out over night. I will also after I remove the bungies, I crack the brake line Hose bolt, where it attaches/enters the reservoir, crack it loose, some, but not much, bubbles and fluid will come out be ready with a rag to wipe it off. Brake fluid attacks Plastic and Paint.

I then check the pull feel on the brake levers.

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