Solve the mystery…

I get in my truck this morning, start it up and head out for work. When I go to make my first stop down the street, the brake pedal goes all the way down and the brakes just barely slow the car down, much less stop it. I pull the emergency brake to stop, slowly drive the car onto the parkway of a neighbors house and check under the hood.

The brake fluid reservoir is completely empty. Not a drop of Dot 3 in the damned thing. I feel around the reservoir fittings and all around the master cylinder and its connections and there isnt a drop of brake fluid anywhere so neither is leaking fluid.

I follow the hydraulic lines from the master cylinder though the engine compartment and under the car and there appear to be no kinks or cuts or breaks on those lines.

When hydraulic fluid is leaking from the brake calipers, it usually drips onto the brake assembly and tires. I check all four brake assemblies and tires and find no evidence of hydraulic fluid on them.

I walk over to the driveway where the truck was parked and there appears to be no evidence of hydraulic fluid on the asphalt. Even though it has been raining for over a day, there are no swirls on the adjacent wet areas that would indicate a fluid leak.

Now, I ask you, where the hell did my hydraulic brake fluid go?

26 thoughts on “Solve the mystery…”

  1. Seriously, though, Val, that is weird and a little creepy. Ask around and see if it’s even possible for that to happen without evidence. In my experience, when the brake lines leak it’s either a hell of a mess on the ground or you smell it burning as you drive the car around for SEVERAL days before it gets that bad, depending on the size of the leak.

  2. Val, I am not a mechanic nor am I usually am I an alarmist, but if I were you, I’d listen to Caltechgirl’s insinuation.

    Unless I missed a heat wave in Miami, whereupon the oil could have evaporated (although oil isn’t as prone to that, as water-based fluids, of course…), or you just plumb forgot to refill it, it sounds way fishy.

    That you’re driving a truck tells me you’re probably the kind of man who probably gets down and dirty with your fluids, unlike my dad who doesn’t know how to change a lightbulb.

    Go to your mechanic and find out what it could be, but tengas cuidado in general.

    Cuba brings out hate in people, sadly.


  3. yo no se nada de mecanica…pero si algo de los metodos de algunos hijos de p…,te aconsejaria hacer el habito a todos en tu casa,cada vez que vayan a salir a manejar,pues que checkeen el carrito antes de salir..u know,walk around,check underneath it,and before gas it..try the breaks…aunque tu tienes buen angel de la guardia,a veces ellos estan ocupados,y solo quedas tu pa’cuidarte…

  4. Caltech,

    yes. It was a little creepy actually.


    The fluid would be hard pressed to evaporate because its a closed system.

    I checked every single inch of hydraulic line, connection, etc..not a drop of fluid anywhere.

  5. Val,

    Could it just be that the last time you took it in for service, they were supposed to replenish the brake fluid and forgot to do it? This would explain the lack of leakage evidence. It may had just finished. Let’s think positive!!

    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “You can’t expect to prevent negative feelings altogether. And you can’t expect to experience positive feelings all the time. The Law of Emotional Choice directs us to acknowledge our feelings but also to refuse to get stuck in the negative ones.” ~ G. Anderson

  6. Val, I am not a mechanic, but have heard anecdotes of mysterious brake fluid disappearance caused by leaky seals in the brake boosters sucking the fluid into the booster vacuum reservoirs and into the engine via the vacuum hose and intake manifold. Did you happen to notice any white smoke coming out of your exhaust pipe recently?

  7. since i know nothing about mechanics, i say that someone was driving by your house, saw they were low on break fluid, and decided to syphen it from your car.

    have a great week! 71 degrees today in Las Vegas. 2 more weeks and summer will be here! ::booty shorts::WOOHOO

  8. I would start parking the cars in a garage if you have one, otherwise make one. That sounds real scary, and hate in people is terrible.

    Please take care

  9. Miguel,

    I had no smoke from the exhaust but I will check the intake manifold and vacuum hose today when I get home. Although, if the engine were burning hydraulic fluid, not only would there be smoke, but you could smell it as well.

    cucu, yes! Booty shorts!

  10. There was a time that I wasn’t paranoid. Then, one day about two years ago, I drove off down the highway and my left front wheel came off. Someone had removed my lug nuts – and had loosened the ones on the rear tire. I know they were there the night before as I had checked the tire pressure in all the tires. I blamed fidel. Maybe raul has a taste for brake fluid.

  11. When I saw this post, I thought it was something out of the Twilight Zone because, this morning, as I was pulling out my venerable MG outta the garage, thinking of enjoying a sporty ride to work…the brake pedal went all the way to the floor. The day before the car was sitting in the garage; brakes were working fine, as I checked them while engaged in troubleshooting and dealing with some electrical gremlins.

    No fluid on the garage floor; no evident leak – yet master cylinder reservoir empty. The car had just been to a quite competent mechanic from the Old Country for other reasons and he reported no problems.

    This, by the way, has happened before despite the fact I am somewhat fanatical about checking fluids, and making sure everything is as it should be.

    So, instead of helping you solve your mystery, I too ask: Where the h… did the brake fluid go? Regardless, “if it doesn’t leak, it isn’t British.”

    Well, will put on the Holmes Hat and if am able to solve the mystery – this time – will get back to you. Perhaps if not fidel’s ghost, it was the evil Moriarty’s doing.

  12. So, instead of helping you solve your mystery, I too ask: Where the h… did the brake fluid go? Regardless, “if it doesn’t leak, it isn’t British.”

    Oyeme! No abusen los Britanicos, que les doy una galleta!

    Just trying to lighten the atmosphere…because this is now very weird indeed.

    Guys, take photos, get documentation, go to your mechanic, and get diagnostics on paper, do everything to the letter of the law, and beyond. Porsia…

    I’m sure I won’t be the only person on Babalublog praying a little tonight, so that this now dual mystery is solved soon.


  13. ***
    Hey Val, it’s your power brakes booster.

    Been there, done that.

    It won’t take but about 10-20 miles of driving to suck your brake reservoir dry. There’s not that much brake fluid in there, is what, about a cup and a half?

    You won’t see any smoke or smell anything, brake fluid is alcohol and a sort of castor oil derivative so it will readily burn in the engine and the catalitic converter will probably mask any “funny” smell. The burn rate is slow so there will be little or no smoke to see.

    So, there you have it.

    Like I said: Been There, Done That, Have T-Shirt.


  14. If you have power brakes the diafragm in the pwr brake drum (that black canister usually around where the steering column comes thru in the firewal) may have ruptured with time allowing the brake fluid to be suctioned out of your system into the engine crankcase or into the induction manifold whereby your fluid either mixed with engine oil or was burned as recicled emissions, usually before that happens the driver notices braking degradation and the vehicle stalls whenever the brake pedal is depressed….if not pls. call the authorities…

  15. Val:

    Usually such things are errors or accidents, still ocassionally they are not. Make sure you have a “truck alarm.”

    BTW How does Raul C. take his break fluid ):>)

  16. Wow Val, this really sounds creepy – I would definitely park the truck where it’s not as easy to get to and definitely get an alarm. I hope this is just a mechanical thing and not some hijo de la gran puta pulling a stunt.

  17. If you have power brakes the brake fluid can be sucked throught the booster and into the engine, and the leak can be small enough that it doesn’t show up as smoke in the exhaust.

  18. Alberto:

    Regardless, “if it doesn’t leak, it isn’t British.”

    Q: Why do the English drink warm beer?
    A: Because they haven’t found a way to make a refrigerator leak oil yet.

    Lucas corporate motto: “Home Before Dark”.

    Val: Several have commented about a possible leak out the master cylinder into the vacuum booster. I’ll add my .02 here and agree- I’ve seen it happen (older, high mileage cars) a few times in my career. Strange, though that you had little or no smoke. Usually the amount in the reservoir is enough to make you look like a badly out-of-time steam engine for miles. Doesn’t take much, though, to have that sort of failure. Strong suggestion: If that is what happened, have ALL of the rubber components checked- lines, seals, cups, all of it. That system is only as strong as its weakest link.

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