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Old 04-28-2009, 16:05   #1 (permalink)
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'99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

Hi guys. I figure it's my turn for a problem so here goes: My brother has the car this week for work as his is in the shop. I'm going over in half hour to check things out but until then I'm hoping you could leave me other ideas here as this problem is new to me and not in any books I can find on my shelves.

First off, the engine light has been on for a while (O2 sensor as previously scanned), My OBD scanner is no longer working and out of warranty, so until a sale comes around I ain't picking one up until then. Sad, I know!

He said that when he pushed the pedal in the brakes work, but barely (takes a long time to stop). He said that he had the pedal to the floor and it would stop faster, but still wouldn't stop on a dime as it should with the brake pressed to the floor. My SE doesn't have ABS by the way.

I'm going to do a visual inspection on the brakes. My bro said that there is fluid in the reservoir and is fairly full. I asked him to check for a vac leak around the brake booster, but as I've been neglecting to fix the muffler he can't hear anything abnormal.

So, any suggestions on what needs replacing or where to look for a fix? Thanks in advance guys.
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Old 04-28-2009, 18:16   #2 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

Change the master cylinder would be my first "guess". You have to do a complete
inspection on the car. Everything from the master cylinder to the abs system to the
brake parts. Could be anything. Find it. Fix it.
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Old 04-28-2009, 18:30   #3 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

He said it doesn't have ABS.

Does it have rear drums brakes? If so, check them for wear and adjustment, this can cause excessive pedal travel. The fronts may be having to do all the work.

A vacuum leak at the booster should result in a hard brake pedal.
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Old 04-28-2009, 18:59   #4 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

Alright guys, here's the update: and thanks for the thoughts so far...

I didn't have much time to check on things before it got dark, so, I did check for a vacuum leak. I pulled off a few vac lines to check for suction and there was sufficient suction at all ends. I never realized how deep the booster is installed..waaay down under the cowl.

I do have some pressure the first time I use the pedal, but upon the second try it goes straight into the firewall. I only drove up the street. Upon parking the car the brake pedal still had no travel. After I shut off the car and pumped the pedal a few times I gained a bit of pressure, but with some force I was able to put the pedal back toward the firewall.

The front brakes checked out good. I didn't have enough daylight to check the rears - yes, they are drums. The parking brake functions as it should and I couldn't see any abnormalities around the master cylinder/reservoir/booster that would have me think it's something mechanical.

I'm going to get it into the dealer, hopefully tomorrow, and get the brake fluid flushed as it's been 70K since I had it done it. Normally I just change out the reservoir fluid each time I check the brakes and replace pads/rotors/shoes. Dirty or plugged line(s) perhaps? Strange, but possible, in a 1 in a million sort of way.

Hopefully I'll be able to take a look at the drums tomorrow. But, would a broken retaining spring or clip cause this? Hmmm. When I put the brake pedal to the firewall the car came to a slow stop, but I didn't notice any pulling side to side which would have me believe that a certain wheel was the culprit. Then again, the proportioning valve might be doing its job here to keep the car straight as it undoubtedly 'thinks' when I put the pedal into the firewall that I want to make a panic stop, but in reality, it feels like I'm trying to brake the car going downhill with a 6000lb trailer attached.

It has me a bit puzzled. I do need to wash the engine though, it's frg'n dirty under there from this long winter.

Any more ideas guys send them my way! I'd like to know what I'm getting into more to fix it myself (if possible). Last case is to send it into the dealer, which I will call tomorrow to at least get an appointment. It's a busy place so it'll be at least Thursday I'm sure, before it'll be looked at, which gives me time to tear apart the drums. Wouldn't my luck have it, I can't locate my repair manual ANYWHERE.
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Old 04-28-2009, 20:51   #5 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

AutoZone.com | Get In The Zone! has lots of online repair guides for free, just create a free account.

Not an expert, but here's what I believe. If there is no fluid loss and you have the pedal going to the floor, either the master cylinder has failed or the brakes are way out of adjustment.

You say you feel like trying to slow the car going downhill with a 6000lb trailer attached. Maybe there is a lack of front brake pressure. It's probably the master cylinder.

*edit - If you have a brake booster fail, you will still have brakes but will have to push like hell for em, pedal will be stiff all the time.
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Old 04-28-2009, 22:25   #6 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

I had a similar problem with my old 1990 Taurus GL way back when. I'd adjust the rear brakes, have a firm pedal for a little while, then it would go soft and low. Car would stop though. Then one day, the rear brakes started making squeak and groaning noises. The brakes didn't have much mileage on them. I pulled the drums, checked the wheel cylinders, frozen solid both sides. Replaced the wheel cylinders, and never had the problem ever again. All the way till the car got totaled when I got cut off, a firm pedal with correct travel.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:34   #7 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

There's no associated brake noise or abnormal noise except for the exhaust leak that I've been meaning to take care of, but even that isn't too loud, it sounds more like my V8 Durango, just with lots of drone once the car gets moving. The brakes were done nearly two years ago and there's only 38-40K on them. First set lasted me 65K and I had replaced both rear wheel cylinders as the left rear had recently developed a slow leak so I replaced the right side cylinder at the same time. I upgraded to Monroe premium parts which have served me well on my other vehicles.

With any luck I'll be able to have a look at the drums tonight as there is definitely something not right.
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Old 04-29-2009, 14:23   #8 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

If everything checks out with your brakes and the pedal still drops, your problem maybe your porportioning valve. this valve connects all the lines in a block, this block sometimes stick in one direction causing premature brake failure.
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Old 04-30-2009, 16:08   #9 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

I won't be able to check the drums out til' Saturday...I'll re-post on how that goes...
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'06 Pontiac G6 GT 3.5L 220hp; 44,000m
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:57   #10 (permalink)
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Re: '99 taurus - Brake problem; long pedal travel and slow to stop

Update: Dealer is swamped to even look at it, so I'll tear apart what I can over the weekend as planned, providing the weather holds out!
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