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Old 08-06-2008, 23:33   #1 (permalink)
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Brake job gone bad...?

Hi Guys

Two years ago we did the brakes on my 92 Topaz - we replaced the rotors, pads, calipers, front flex hoses up front, and replaced all hydraulic lines then bled the brakes. We didn't replace the master cylinder and didn't look at the rear brakes, didn't pull the drums and check the shoes or wheel cylinders.

A few days ago, I replaced the front rotors and pads, everything else we did before looked good. I used a c-clamp to back off the caliper pistons, backing them off all the way, but unfortunately forgot to take the lid off the master cylinder.

While I've got steady brakes, now I've got a low pedal. I topped off the master cylinder - it didn't take much - but that didn't bring the pedal up a whole lot.

What has likely happened? Blown the rear cylinders, the master cylinder or damaged the calipers?

Mark
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Old 08-07-2008, 17:46   #2 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: Brake job gone bad...?

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Originally Posted by tommyhorse View Post
Hi Guys

Two years ago we did the brakes on my 92 Topaz - we replaced the rotors, pads, calipers, front flex hoses up front, and replaced all hydraulic lines then bled the brakes. We didn't replace the master cylinder and didn't look at the rear brakes, didn't pull the drums and check the shoes or wheel cylinders.

A few days ago, I replaced the front rotors and pads, everything else we did before looked good. I used a c-clamp to back off the caliper pistons, backing them off all the way, but unfortunately forgot to take the lid off the master cylinder.

While I've got steady brakes, now I've got a low pedal. I topped off the master cylinder - it didn't take much - but that didn't bring the pedal up a whole lot.

What has likely happened? Blown the rear cylinders, the master cylinder or damaged the calipers?

Mark
I'd say look at those rear brakes already!!! The wheel cylinders can cause a soft pedal if leaking or if locked up.
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:56   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Brake job gone bad...?

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I'd say look at those rear brakes already!!! The wheel cylinders can cause a soft pedal if leaking or if locked up.
Yeah, I tried. I bought rear brake parts - brake shoes, spring kit and wheel cylinders - and found my old Chilton repair manual which I studied carefully. After thinking how I didn't have that special tool to easily and quickly install brake springs, and the chances I'd properly install the wheel cylinders without expert help, without getting brake fluid on the new shoes, I decided it was better to take the car along with the new parts to a garage. Good thing I did. The mechanic couldn't get the hydraulic lines to come off the old wheel cylinders so had to attach new pieces of brake line to the new cylinders. The drums were past tolerance to be turned (16 (?) year old drums it's not worth challenging). And it took a professional in a well lit garage with the car on a hoist over 2 hours to do the job right. Instead of a dim shed with the car on jack stands with me with a sore back.

I had to shell out $300 for the garage to do the rear brakes (plus the $70 for the parts previously bought), but at least I saved on the labour of installing the new rotors and pads up front. And now I got a real firm high pedal like I should, the car doesn't pull to one side or do other scarey stuff, and I'm not in fear I'm going to kill someone. Looked at another way, although I'm unsure how "no fault" works in my Canadian province, my insurance deductible is $500, more or less what I paid in total for the brakes. But no one's going to get hurt, and I'd lose my no-claim discount on my insurance premium if I did get in an accident. In any case, I'm sure I would have ended up getting halfway through installing the wheel cylinders then have the old thing towed into a garage anyway. So I figure I saved a step and a heck of a lot of frustration if nothing else.

The moral of the story which is worth sharing, if you've got a limited skill set like me, use good judgement on these DIY driveway jobs, take everything into consideration, even if it means flashing the old credit card even if increasing a pre-existing balance. And figure when you're ahead.

Now, I've got to go through the same exercise with my Silverado with 4 wheel disc brakes! Discs I can do if there's nothing tricky (there's a bolt on the caliper assembly that's sealed on in the factory and needs to be broken to get it off) . And maybe I can just have the rotors turned down. I'll see how it goes.

Mark
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