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Discussion Starter #1
So I just went and checked all my fluids. My brake fluid wasn't low but it was completely black and disgusting looking. My coolant was also low in my reserve/resovior. The radiator was completely fine no overheating issues. Any ideas as to why either of those things would happen? Mostly confused on the black brake fluid... I should add the brakes feel fine, but the pedal has been soft for quite some time.
 

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Are you sure it was black? Did you remove some in a glass and inspect it?

I ask because brake fluid doesn't really allow light to go through it. By looking in your reservoir it will likely look dark (generally green) but be fine when removed and inspected.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I dabbed a towel in and it wasn't black but still pretty dark..
 

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Water contamination reduces the boiling point of the brake fluid, and when it gets hot enough it starts to turn black like that. It's always a good idea to flush the fluid when doing a full relining of the brakes, which is typically 3-4 years, but very very few people take the time to do it. It's worth it!
 

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You can do it with gravity pretty easily too. Open the reservoir, support the front and back end of the car and take the wheels off, place a drain pan of some kind under the passenger rear wheel, open the bleeder, and let it work through, just keep the reservoir topped off. When it runs clean, move to the driver side, then the passenger front. That will pretty much exchange all your fluid.
 

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I like to do a brake fluid change every other year. Just siphon the old fluid out and refill with fresh new DOT 3 fluid. No sense running old fluid through the system.

Not sure if one can gravity bleed an antilock brake system. I know with my FJ, which has electric assist brakes, you can't do it that way. It's a huge PITA to bleed properly.

It wouldn't hurt to look at the shop manual. They are cheap compared to fubar
 

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I just went through the rear brakes on my Dodge truck. The brake fluid was pretty brown and I bleed it quit a bit to get some fresh fluid in the system. In my shop manual, it said just because the brake fluid was discolored doesn't mean its bad. So yours might be just fine. If you are a do it yourselfer, you can bleed them and get fresh fluid in, its not that big of a deal.
 

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You can replace just the fluid in the reservoir, but there is easily 3x that amount still in the lines and calipers. That's why you run it through.
 

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I try to flush the brakes every 2-3 years or so on everything. It keeps the water and hopefully the internal oxidation down.

Iron oxide comes in several colors... It can be black. I'd empty and re-fill the reservoir and then flush the fresh brake fluid down to chase the crap out of the lines.
 
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