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Help - am i gonna die or do i have a week?

Hi folks, i’m JUST about ready to turn in my car and get a new one, but i really really would rather wait until next weekend (i have a trip this weekend, life is busy, etc etc). My power steering went out and i took it in immediately and they say a) we gotta fix the serpentine belt tensioner and b) the rear brake cylinders are leaking and cracked. I said “i just need to drive it home tonight, just do the belt tensioner” They did and i paid them. NOW: can i drive it to work (40 mi) tomorrow and Wednesday, or am i risking my life?

Thank you!

Is the brake fluid reservoir full of fluid? Keep an eye on it. As long as it stays full you should be OK.

A slight leak in a wheel cylinder is not life threatening.

If the leak is severe, however, and the brake fluid reservoir goes empty you may lose braking ability completely.

How much is it leaking?

Rent a car.

uh, where is the brake fluid reservoir?

The owner’s manual will show you where it as and how to tell if it’s full.

Do you ever check ANY of the fluids?

Perhaps it would be best if you didn’t drive the car. Brakes are not something you want to gamble with.

Like ducks in a shooting gallery…

I can just see the car dealer salivating over what he’ll give you for this trade-in. Why don’t you get this stuff fixed so you can stop worrying about safety and try to bargain for your best trade-in deal? Rocketman

You might as well get this stuff fixed before you trade in the car. The dealer will probably inspect it anyway before giving you a trade in value. If faults are found then, they’ll deduct however much the repairs will cost them, plus maybe a little extra to really put the screws to you and improve their bargining position.

Hi all,
thanks for the advise. Yes, i do check the fluids. i actually know that she burns a little more oil than the average car, so i check it every time i fill up and add a qt about every 2k. i get a lube and oil about every 5k. I would pay for the fix, but in the last 3 mo i have put in $800 into a car whose KBB trade-in value is $900 (actual value listed at $1200), so frankly, i DONT think that paying $500 for this fix would increase my bargaining power enough to make it worth it.
Guys, i was smart enough to ask the question because i know i ain’t no car genious, but lets not assume that since i dont know one thing i dont know anything about cars. THANKS!

You’re risking your life any time you climb in a car. Unfortunately, there’s no way anyone here can tell you whether the risk is significantly larger in your car than in any other.

One thing to watch out for if you decide to drive the thing, pressures in the braking system are very high and small leaks can become big leaks very quickly.

On most cars, the brake master cylinder is under the hood directly in front of the driver in line with the brake pedal. It should be nearly full of a clear or perhaps somewhat discolored gasoliney smelling liquid (which is not gasoline). Some older cars had opaque metal master cylinders that you had to open up and look in to check fluid levels. Most foreign cars made since about 1990 have transparent plastic master cylinder reservoirs that allow you to check the fluid level visually.

thank you! this is quite helpful. i have decided not to drive it unless i have an “emergency” btw now and next weekend. No freeway, and i’ll check the fluid if i have to drive it.