Jan 06 2010

From One Dodge to Another

My tip for today: if you ever accidentally put something other than brake fluid in the brake fluid reservoir of your vehicle, don’t drive it.  Take the reservoir off immediately, dump it out, and make sure you get it cleaned out well and filled back up with proper brake fluid.

Last winter, we were getting ready to go somewhere and I had a few extra minutes, so I decided to check the fluids in my truck and top them all off.  One of my brake cylinders had a very slow leak, so I had to add some fluid every couple months, and I did so that day.  Unfortunately, we had had some sleet and snow the night before, so the jugs in the back of my truck were all crusted over with ice, and what I thought was a jug of brake fluid was actually engine oil.  I realized it after I poured some in, but then it was time to go, so I figured I’d worry about it later.  One oil can’t be that different from another, right?

Well, apparently it can.  I siphoned out what I could later, but some of the oil had already gotten down into the system.  It seemed fine for several months, and the leaky cylinder even stopped leaking, which I figured was because engine oil is thicker than brake oil.  But then the brakes started getting a little soft, and they’d shudder on hard braking.  Around November they got a lot worse in a hurry, and it was time to do something about it.

I limped it down to Spring Street Automotive for inspection, and found out the oil ruined all the rubber and plastic parts in the brake system, and also the drums and discs were getting awfully thin.  Basically the entire brake system needed to be replaced, which would cost about twice what I paid for the truck in the first place.  So off it went to the salvage yard.  Spring Street did a great job of going over it and showing me all the problems, by the way.  It was well worth the $28 charge.

Fortunately, some friends at church were looking to sell their car that had been sitting for a while.  It needed some work, but nothing too major.  The main thing is that one of the radiator fans doesn’t work, but that won’t matter until next summer when I want to turn the air conditioning on.  It also has a little deer damage, but how many vehicles around here don’t after a while?  It’s probably get better acceleration than any car since my 1973 Century with a 350 Buick engine and a 4-barrel carb, so it’s pretty fun to drive.  I can’t say I’ve ever been a big Dodge fan, so it’s kind of funny that I’ve owned two black Dodge’s in a row, but that’s the way it goes when you buy used and that’s the deal that comes along.

Here’s a picture of it the first morning I had to scrape frost off the window!

Frosted Neon

Frosted Neon

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