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Old 08-16-2017, 05:37 PM   #1
Jonasan308
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1999 SC1
Default Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

So, apparently, the brakes on my SC1 went out on my mom. She said she was doing 80, went to hit the brakes and they didnt work and the light came on. Somehow she was able to get off the highway without crashing.

Theres a strange smell outside the car. There doesnt seem to be a leak anywhere. The brake light is not on. When i got to press the pedal, it sinks to the floor. Also, the engine idle seems to vary if i press the pedal in all the way, and occasionally it will drop to like 6-500 rpm if i press it. The cylinder is full of fluid. The wire to a connector is connected with electical tape. I was going to head to the store and get butt connectors to properly connect it. Could this be my issue? Btw, the MC wire tape isnt my doing, the car was like this when i bought it, and i didnt know.

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Old 08-16-2017, 05:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

I wouldn't bother with the wire right now, that can't cause the total loss of brakes, even if the wire is bad. Does the pedal go all the way to the floor when the engine isn't running?

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Old 08-16-2017, 06:12 PM   #3
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1995 SC2
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Is it ABS or Non-ABS?

You probably need a rear wheel cylinder, if it is drum brakes. They can "leak" fluid, which causes the sinking brake pedal, with the fluid leaking into the drum assembly and being burned off by the shoes.

Once you get them off, let my know. I actually have a spare wheel cylinder, from when I had all my brakes done.....

I replaced the MC, because I found a leaking O-Ring, in the bottom of the reservoir. MC failure seems to be an issue, with the S-Series, as I rarely see many S-Series at yards with MCs still in them.

I also suspect that the MC is not actually the problem, but rather incorrect bleeding being performed on them, leaving air trapped in the system.

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Old 08-16-2017, 06:29 PM   #4
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

It was going to the floor. Was.
I somehow got brake power back. I was testing it out to see how it was stopping and i got power back in the driveway store and get wire connectors. Didnt see your post before i went to the store.

I noticed something too. The rear wheels, they were noticeably hot. I went to walk past one and felt the heat coming off it. Both wheels on the rear were hot enough to burn my fingers, but the front wheels were cool enough to touch. You could be right about the wheel cylinder. Ill look and see what it is and what needs to be done if thats the issue.

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Old 08-16-2017, 09:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Inspect the rear brakes and park brake cables.
The brakes likely got hot enough to boil the brake fluid which is why the pedal went away and then came back. Boiled fluid equals vapour equals no more brake pressure.

The park brake is not partially on is it?

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Old 08-17-2017, 06:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Either way if the rear brakes were hot enough you couldn't touch the wheel the rear brakes need attention. If it were mine it would get shoes, drums, wheel cylinders, and hardware.

Make sure the parking brake cables are not stuck as well.

I would not drive it until the cause of the failure is found and corrected. If it can't be found I'd just replace master cylinder, rubber hoses, as well as the stuff above.

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Old 08-17-2017, 07:45 AM   #7
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2001 SC2
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

3 reasons for the brake light to come on:
  1. car has ABS and it's system has failed tests bad enough (ABS light also on...)
  2. parking brake sensor on from the p-brake being engaged (or sensor failed and stuck on)
  3. sensor reading at MC indicates low fluid level.
#1: not really dangerous, IMO anytime the ABS light is on the brakes work 100% correct and not to worry about if your's doesn't have ABS.
#2: possibly the p-brake got left on, cooking the rear brakes
#3: taped up wiring under the hood is begging for a fire, and on the brake fluid sensor can turn on the light from a poor connection making it think there's low fluid.

I'd see if the p-brake is stuck on and if not take the drums off to at least clean up the area anyway (if it is stuck on, release the handle then goto town with a BFH around the drum). Once the drum is off I'd see if everything moves freely.
Then I'd try bleeding the rear lines to see if new/unboiled fluid helps.

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Old 08-17-2017, 09:42 AM   #8
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

My mom says she the parking brake could have been up and she didnt notice. I wouldnt put it past her to forget something like that and never notice it...

I got connectors so if it doesnt rain on me, sometime today, i will fix the taped on connection.

I havent touched brakes on this car. Honestly, id rather swap the brakes for disk if it turns out thats cheaper than replacing parts inside the drums. But i still dont know for sure what happened because this time i wasnt there.

I dont have ABS. The strange smell is cooked brake fluid i guess? I couldnt get over that nasty smell that was all over my car and the hot rear brakes shows that there is something wrong back there. My old car, when the wheel bearing was on its way out, i touched the wheel and that tjing was pretty hot, but this time, my rear wheels were even hotter!!

Next step is confirming what it is exactly so, say i wanted to check for blown wheel cylinders, how will i do that?

And another thing. I realized that i could have been having warning signs of failure that i didnt pay attention to. When driving for the first time of the day, the brakes would occasionally pull to one side. It was random and it only happened like 1 time or twice, then it went away when driven. I wish i had known that was a sign that the cylinders needed replacing. Well, now i know.

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Old 08-17-2017, 03:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Brake cylinders have two rubber boots, one for each end of the wheel cylinder pistons. All it does is act as a dust boot. It should not have any indication of brake fluid, even when peeling it back from the cylinder. If you see brake fluid, the wheel cylinder is worn out and needs to be replaced. If one is damaged, worn, leaking, replace both as they're inexpensive. Bleed each side afterwards. Once you inspect rear brakes, you'll know what parts are needed.

If the parking brake were left applied, this would explain cooked brakes. Brake fluid should be flushed with fresh fluid flowing out each bleed screw. Dark brake fluid is old. Fresh brake fluid in light honey colored.

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Old 08-18-2017, 06:30 PM   #10
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

So i got the cover off the offending drum, and found the wheel cylinder covered in a black soot that smells very strongly. Lets assume this is brake fluid.

The shoes dont look bad. The lid doesnt look bad either. Wasnt expecting to be able to pop it off with not much effort. Definitely will be cheaper to install new cylinders. Only part im concerned about is bleeding. Im going to look for clear instructions on how to bleed brakes properly. Speaking of bleeding, the bleeder valve had a rubber cap over it so the end is still shiny brass.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:14 PM   #11
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

I wiped the cylinder down before putting it back together, and found a half inch hole in the seal of the cylinder. Hmm. No wonder the brakes failed.

I drove it around a bit on some side roads and low traffic to check braking. Found that i can sink the pedal halfway and have little/no braking until i sink it pretty far in, then the brakes start grabbing and stops. Before the brakes failed, i could tap the pedal and it would feel like its grabbing.

I drove it to check for heat off the wheels too. The wheels werent hot this time.

I ran out of light before i could check the other side. So i will do so tomorrow. Then next step is getting the wheel cylinders.

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Last edited by Jonasan308; 08-18-2017 at 08:21 PM..

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Old 08-18-2017, 09:27 PM   #12
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Post Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

A little tip when replacing wheel cylinders [just did both on my 1997 SL1] [also make sure to change the washers on the brake line bolt] take brake fluid and fill the cylinder. Proceed like this there will be a plug where the brake line goes, remove plug and put a small amount of fluid in the hole. Then lightly press the metal sides where the rubber cups are and you will see bubbles and the fluid will get sucked in. Repeat a few times till there are no more bubbles. This will make bleeding easier.

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Old 08-19-2017, 02:06 PM   #13
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Ah, so we fill the cylinder with brake fluid prior to installing it right? That does sound like a good idea.

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Old 08-19-2017, 02:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

I replaced a rear brake cylinder a while back and simply connected it to the hose, then opened the bleed screw a bit so the fluid flowed in due to gravity (the master cylinder being up high). I could hear it "burp" as it slowly filled and then closed the bleed screw once fluid started flowing out of it. The cylinder was already mounted to the backing-plate, and I tapped on the cylinder with a small hammer periodically to help loosen bubbles that might be clinging to the cylinder surfaces. That's all the bleeding that I needed to do.

Do be sure to keep enough fluid in the master cylinder, if that goes low and air gets in at that end you may be into full-blown bleeding.

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Old 08-19-2017, 08:11 PM   #15
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

I think i should bleed and flush my brakes. The fluid at the master cylinder is dark looking.

I checked the other side earlier. Same story over there, nasty looking wheel cylinder covered in black dust that smells strong. The difference over there is, the surface of the drum rotor has a mirror polish, like the brakes had been working fine.

But, on the opposite side, the rotor had 2 patches where it was mirror polished, while the rest of the rotor is covered in light rust. I posted a photo of that one beforehand.

The seal wasnt busted, but i dug through the seal while i was cleaning the dust off it, so it was on its way out.

No brake fluid leak, no smell before they went out. Just a annoying squeak out of passenger side and the slipping when cold.

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Old 08-21-2017, 12:58 AM   #16
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

This is VERY IMPORTANT.

The CORRECT bleed sequence is Right-Rear, LEFT-FRONT, Left-Rear, Right-Front.

Your main reservoir(under the cap) controls one front brake and one(opposite side)rear brake. The secondary(front)reservoir controls the other two brakes, in the same fashion.

Incorrect bleeding will NOT get all of the air out of your system, amd you will have a spongy pedal.

And, I kinda figured it was a bad wheel cylinder. I had a bad one installed, and it was brand new. It was sucking air into it, when I released the pedal, but no leaks as brake fluid is uncompressible. My bad seal wasn't bad enough to let fluid out, but was bad enough to let air in.

My reservoir level was actually going UP, instead of down, despite my brake pedal going to the floor.

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Old 08-22-2017, 11:51 AM   #17
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

I may not go through with the full on bleeding, because i only bought a 12 oz container.

I got all the stuff i needed to work on it today and i come outside to see its wet, somewhat windy, and 80% chance rain is coming on today. I dont think i should be getting soaked and having the drum brakes open in the rain, or the hood. I hope i wont have to wait the rain out until tomorrow.

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Old 08-23-2017, 09:06 AM   #18
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1999 SC1
Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Good news: i removed one cylinder.
Bad news: the brake line got loose and leaked out all the brake fluid. And the MC low to the where i could see the hole in the bottom, theres still fluid but its really dark. It seemed to be pretty nasty looking brake fluid.

So, guess ill need to flush the whole thing. Hopefully the fronts are like the rears. If not... oh well. How much brake fluid do i need to refill the system and bleed it?

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Old 08-23-2017, 10:02 AM   #19
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

One quart plus the twelve ounces of plain DOT-3 brake fluid. Replace both rear wheel cylinders first and use new 'banjo' copper brakes washers between the brake line and wheel cylinders. Since brake fluid drained from the master cylinder, air in the lines is the least of your problems. The normal method of flushing/bleeding would require starting at the master cylinder, flushing/bleeding at the two output ports then proceeding the RR/LF, LR/RF to complete flushing/bleeding. A pressurized bleeder attachment can make this a quicker one man operation or use (slower) gravity without pumping (pedal action). Flushing/bleeding is complete when clear brake fluid flows and pedal hardens. Do not under any circumstances use engine/power assist to help flush brake fluid.

Your brake system has approximately one pint of capacity.

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Old 08-23-2017, 10:14 AM   #20
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Default Re: Brakes gone, pedal goes to floor, No light on

Hmm, so im bleeding the mc first. How is it done?

Im seeing things saying ill have to bench bleed it. Hmm. I dont have much around here, ill have to walk a mile and back to go get fluid. So should i be getting anything else besides brake fluid?

...
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Last edited by Jonasan308; 08-23-2017 at 10:20 AM..

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