Brake fluid plays a critical role in a vehicle’s braking system. It’s responsible for transmitting force from the brake pedal to the brake pads, which stop the wheels from turning. But, what happens when brake fluid ends up in the gas tank? In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the consequences of brake fluid in a gas tank, how it happens, and the steps you can take to fix the issue.
How Does Brake Fluid End Up in a Gas Tank?
Brake fluid can end up in a gas tank through human error or mechanical failure. The most common way for brake fluid to end up in a gas tank is when topping up brake fluid, it’s easy to accidentally pour it into the gas tank instead of the brake fluid reservoir. This error often occurs because the brake fluid and gasoline filler necks are in close proximity, and the containers may look similar. In some rare cases, brake fluid can seep into the fuel system through a leaky brake line, faulty master cylinder, or brake booster.
What Happens When Brake Fluid Gets into a Gas Tank?
When brake fluid gets into a gas tank, it can cause significant damage to the engine and fuel system. Brake fluid is highly corrosive, and it can eat away at various metal and rubber components of the fuel system. It can corrode the fuel pump, fuel lines, and injectors, leading to leaks and reduced performance. Moreover, brake fluid alters the chemical composition of the gasoline, causing it to become ineffective. This results in engine damage, power loss, reduced fuel efficiency, and increased emissions.
Signs of Brake Fluid in Gas Tank
If you suspect that there’s brake fluid in your gas tank, here are some signs to look out for:
If you notice that your engine is misfiring or sputtering, it could be due to brake fluid contamination.
Brake fluid in the gas tank can produce a distinct and unpleasant smell from the exhaust.
Poor Fuel Efficiency
When brake fluid mixes with gasoline, it reduces the fuel’s octane rating, leading to poor fuel efficiency.
A contaminated fuel system can cause the engine to stall or fail to start.
How to Fix Brake Fluid in Gas Tank
Fixing a contaminated gas tank requires thorough cleaning and flushing of the fuel system. Here are the steps you can take to fix the issue:
Drain the Gas Tank
The first step is to drain the contaminated gas from the tank. If the tank is nearly empty, you can use a hand pump to remove the remaining fuel. Ensure that you collect the old fuel in a suitable container and dispose of it appropriately.
Clean the Fuel System
After draining the gas, clean the fuel system using a fuel system cleaner. The cleaner will dissolve any remaining brake fluid residue and debris from the fuel lines, injectors, and pump. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaner and use it with the right amount of fuel. Run the engine for a few minutes to allow the cleaner to circulate throughout the system.
Replace Fuel Filter
Replace the fuel filter to ensure that any remaining debris or contaminants are removed from the fuel system. The fuel filter traps impurities and particles from the fuel, and it’s a critical component in keeping the fuel system clean. Install a new filter and ensure that it’s the correct size and type for your vehicle.
Refill the Gas Tank
After cleaning the fuel system and replacing the fuel filter, refill the gas tank with fresh gasoline. Use a reputable brand and the correct fuel grade for your vehicle.