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Old 12-03-2007, 07:41 AM   #1
sfitts
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Dizzy brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Just bought 1998 Saturn SC1 L4(automatic tranny with traction control) and brakes work BUT the pedal goes to the floor before you get any braking power. We called the seller who assured us the car passed inspection and all systems were good. He said it has always been this way and was fine. I don't believe this is right. We checked brake fluid and it is full. We applied brakes while running and cannot see any bubbles in the reservoir. Can it still be the master cylinder or a worse culprit like the ABS module. FYI: there are no lights on to indicate a problem and no codes set.

Confused!! We will bring for a diag at the garage but were wondering what we could be up against. There is no way we are driving this car like this! I may be a girl but I used to work in a service dept at a dealer and I KNOW this is not right! Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Old 12-03-2007, 08:05 AM   #2
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Definitely not right. You might need to bleed the brakes, worst case there could be a leak or stuck parts or something. Your brakes should start to work with just a little bit of pedal movement.

Just because it "passes inspection" doesn't mean it is working properly.

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Old 12-03-2007, 08:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

I'm wondering if it has something to do with what I've read....that if you bleed the brakes it has to be done in a certain order and then the ABS system needs to be reset by a scan tool. If this was not done properly could it cause the problem we are experiencing with this car?

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Old 12-03-2007, 08:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

The evil engineers at Saturn decided to have a pedal response set lower then any other car I've driven, sure it's not just that it's a bit lower then where most cars are set?

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Old 12-03-2007, 09:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

The pedal goes just about to the floor. I would say at least an 8 to 10 inch drop from the top pedal position before you get to the brake.

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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Originally Posted by sfitts View Post
The pedal goes just about to the floor. I would say at least an 8 to 10 inch drop from the top pedal position before you get to the brake.
yeaaa i think somethings wrong.

when the car is off, and you pump the brakes does it hold pressure?

Not sure if this is a solution but ive noticed that when i make sure the caliper pins are well creased, the brake pedal is slightly higher and firmer. just a thought

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

I can of course assume that you've already cleaned and adjusted the rear brakes (drum systems only).....The distance between the shoes and the drums are a major factor in when you start to feel the pressure on the brakes in the pedal. Clean and adjust the rear brakes, I'll bet it hasn't been done in quite a while.

Don't listen to people telling you to bleed the brakes. The only time brakes need to be bled is if a failed component was replaced and air got into the lines. Air doesn't just get into brake lines on it's own, it's a sealed system. Bleeding is only going to be a waste of your time.

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:42 AM   #8
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

I'd start with bleeding and flushing the old fluid out of the system. Then check the front brakes and look at the caliper guides and lube them like it was mentioned.

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Try pulling and releasing your parking brakes 10 to 20 times first (this will adjust the rear brakes via the automatic adjusters). Then, if that doesn't work, you'll have to pull the rear tires and drums and take a look.

Take a look at the adjuster assembly in this picture:

It's adjusted automatically each time you pull the parking brakes.

As long as your brakes are assembled correctly, the adjuster should function correctly. If not, then someone who previously worked on your brakes put them together wrong.

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:58 AM   #10
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Happy Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Will take all advice into consideration.
I will also update when the problem is found for all you techies out there! It's nice when a puzzle is solved! Any other ideas please feel free to list them.

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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Originally Posted by oseberg View Post
Try pulling and releasing your parking brakes 10 to 20 times first (this will adjust the rear brakes via the automatic adjusters). Then, if that doesn't work, you'll have to pull the rear tires and drums and take a look.

Take a look at the adjuster assembly in this picture:

It's adjusted automatically each time you pull the parking brakes.

As long as your brakes are assembled correctly, the adjuster should function correctly. If not, then someone who previously worked on your brakes put them together wrong.

Disregard this horrible advice. The adjusters do NOT work by themselves reliably. This has been proven true by more than one Saturn Certified technician on this board, including myself. The above advice is absolutely incorrect and should be taken with a grain of salt to say the least. Clean and adjust your rear brakes properly, you'll be right back where you want the pedal to be.

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:33 PM   #12
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Again one of those debates about back brakes. In this matter is whether a mechanism is suppose to operate to its design.

Inherently in vehicles that are exposed to the elements, mechanisms fail to operate as designed. The word "automatically" in this part of the hemisphere where there are warm, humid summers and cold sub-zero winters with road grime is meant to "automatically" check over mechanisms that are designed to work automatically.

Easy to remember if you own a Saturn where you need to check your gas each time you check your oil.

Guess more debates in this format come from how a message is delivered rather than the quality of its content. Just glad most can stay on the high ground when information provided deserves scrutiny.

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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Originally Posted by yazhere View Post
Again one of those debates about back brakes. In this matter is whether a mechanism is suppose to operate to its design.

Inherently in vehicles that are exposed to the elements, mechanisms fail to operate as designed. The word "automatically" in this part of the hemisphere where there are warm, humid summers and cold sub-zero winters with road grime is meant to "automatically" check over mechanisms that are designed to work automatically.

Easy to remember if you own a Saturn where you need to check your gas each time you check your oil.

Guess more debates in this format come from how a message is delivered rather than the quality of its content. Just glad most can stay on the high ground when information provided deserves scrutiny.
Very well said!

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yazhere View Post
Again one of those debates about back brakes. In this matter is whether a mechanism is suppose to operate to its design.

Inherently in vehicles that are exposed to the elements, mechanisms fail to operate as designed. The word "automatically" in this part of the hemisphere where there are warm, humid summers and cold sub-zero winters with road grime is meant to "automatically" check over mechanisms that are designed to work automatically.

Easy to remember if you own a Saturn where you need to check your gas each time you check your oil.

Guess more debates in this format come from how a message is delivered rather than the quality of its content. Just glad most can stay on the high ground when information provided deserves scrutiny.
^^^+1. a dissagreement in advice can be said in so many other ways

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Old 12-03-2007, 02:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
Disregard this horrible advice. The adjusters do NOT work by themselves reliably. This has been proven true by more than one Saturn Certified technician on this board, including myself. The above advice is absolutely incorrect and should be taken with a grain of salt to say the least. Clean and adjust your rear brakes properly, you'll be right back where you want the pedal to be.
Remember Point/Counterpoint back in the day on Saturday Night Live? I can almost hear Chevy saying to Jane Curtin, "Jane you ignorant sl_t!"

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Old 12-03-2007, 02:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Yes..Yes and what a good laugh when reading your post.

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Old 12-03-2007, 02:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Agree: Automatic adjusters work for a while, but over time can stop working due to build-up of road grime and corrosion.

They do need occasional servicing. How often depends on your driving environment. A good, thorough, safety inspection should see this, but not all inspections are.

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Old 12-03-2007, 04:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
Bleeding is only going to be a waste of your time.
Not to mention, unnecessarily (unduly) introducing a risk of getting air in the system (by not doing the bleeding procedure right).

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickSaturn View Post
Remember Point/Counterpoint back in the day on Saturday Night Live? I can almost hear Chevy saying to Jane Curtin, "Jane you ignorant sl_t!"
Aykroyd used it too, IIRC, but I believe Chevy originated it. SNL "reprised" this recently. The old gig was a spoof on the "Point/Counterpoint" segment of "60 Minutes", between Shana Alexander and Jack Kilpatrick. Well, "60 Minutes" (the real one) brought back P/CP about 5 years ago, with Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Around that time, Aykroyd hosted an SNL episode, and they spoofed the modern P/CP with Darrell Hammond as Slick Willy and, of course, Aykroyd as the pen-wielding Dole. Hammond/Clinton opened, with the expected "blah blah work hard, play by the rules, blah blah I'm tired of blah blah, I feel your pain". Aykroyd/Dole started his reply with a crisp "Bill you ignorant slut!" The audience went nuts.

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Old 12-03-2007, 05:44 PM   #19
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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... but I believe Chevy ...
I thought that Saturns were made by GM.

Anyway...

The automatic adjusters on my 95 SL2 still work great, as do the automatic adjusters in my 1980 Corolla and my cousins 1984 Toyota Pickup.

Sure, if they get all rusty, they'll stop working. But you'll notice when you remove the drums and try to adjust them and the star thing won't turn. Maybe it's a good idea to grease up the adjuster so that it won't rust the next time you service your shoes.

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Old 12-03-2007, 05:50 PM   #20
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Default Re: brake pedal goes almost to floor before brakes engage?

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I thought that Saturns were made by GM.

Not Chevy as in Chevrolet, Chevy as in Chevy Chase. And Saturns are made by GM.

As far as your adjusters working properly in everything you own, congratulations. You are the exception, not the rule. Rear drum brakes, even as part of preventive maintenance should be periodically cleaned and adjusted. Blindly relying on automatic adjusters to do the job for you is just plain lazy.

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