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2004 1.8 liter Passat- The brake light came on on my dashboard this morning. My little Christmas miracle this morning (and the result of the hangover I was experiencing from last night) was that I checked the power steering fluid instead of the brake fluid. It was really low so I walked to the supermarket (auto parts stores are closed today) and bought some brake fluid and poured it in. About half a second after putting it in, I realized that I was pouring it into the wrong place :banghead:. Wanting to avoid any other Christmas miracles, I just decided that I'll drop it off at the mechanic tomorrow and have him change the power steering fluid and see if there is a problem with the brakes or if it just needs fluid (I'm assuming it is just low on break fluid, but I'm not feeling too mechanically inclined at the moment, and even checking the brake fluid is a minor project in my car). My question is, can I expect there to be major repairs to the power steering because of this? It's only about a mile from home to the garage so it won't get a lot of use. I basically trust the mechanic and don't think that he'll tell me I need work that I don't really need, but still....
 

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If I were you, before even starting the engine and circulating the fluid, I'd get a turkey baster and remove what you can. Then remove the hoses and drain the pump reservoir, then do a PS flush as described elsewhere on this forum. At this point, you don't have brake fluid in your steering rack, and you should endeavor to keep it that way. Brake fluid is nasty stuff, and the pump and rack are pretty particular as to what you put in them...
 

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X2. If the engine has not been turned over since you added the wrong fluid, it'll still be contained in that reservoir and not yet circulated throughout the system. If you've started the engine (even for a short time), you'll have circulated that fluid through the system and the flush/removal procedure will be more involved. Don't risk your rack, pump or hoses if you can help it. If it has not been started, keep it that way and get the car towed the one mile to the shop. Make sure you notify the shop personnel so they know not to start it after the truck drops it off. The Passat requires a specific type of fluid in the power steering system. Make sure the shop knows this and doesn't use the wrong stuff. If you've already started the car, you've circulated the fluid and may as well drive the car the one mile to the shop.
 

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Best thing your mech can do is flush the ps system and hope for the best. Break fluid is nasty stuff to many things not designed to accept it. Hopefully the ps system (or at least the really expensive and hard to get to parts) will tolerate it but you won't know how that will impact it long term.

Why is checking the brake fluid level a minor project? Is it because of the rain cover? You can just open the reservoir cap, remove the screen and look down in there.

Edit: good observation by Scott and Steve. You are not explicitly saying that you turned the engine (I assumed you did). If so, remove the ps tank, wash it and dry it and top it off with the right fluid before turning the engine and you will be fine.
 

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Rubber seal compatibility with petroleum based hydrocarbons & automotive brake fluids and silicone oils are not compatible in general, i.e. I didn't see any rubbers that are good for both.

Flush should be done ASAP with proper PS fluid. 2 qts should be enough. I used little more than 1 qt Ravenol SSF for my 1.8t.

Wait to see if leaks show up later.
 
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