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Old 01-06-2006, 05:21 PM   #1
PlasticCarsRock
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1995 SL2
Default SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

I recently purchased a '95 Saturn SL2 from my uncle. After sitting for a year, I licensed the car and these are my problems. Having never driven a Saturn before; I have no idea how the brakes should feel. When stopping, the pedal seems to pulsate a bit (mainly at low speeds) (not abs; just gently but firmly moving up and down slightly). The car has abs and 4 wheel discs. This is not my major concern however; I can deal with this (if it's not safety threatening). My major problem, I think, is that the pedal goes to the floor fairly easily. I am a distance runner so I suppose my legs might be a bit stronger than most, however, I know on my mom's car (a Mercedes) that the brake pedal won't go to the floor no matter how hard I push (I've had several people pull out right in front of me (like less than 30 meters on a 55mph road). I haven't tried a panic stop with my Saturn yet, but sitting at a light once, i thought I was rolling (the truck next to me was backing up because he went too far into the intersection) and I pushed a bit harder and the pedal went to the floor. There is an obvious mark in the carpet (as if this has happened before). Is this normal; I've had not problems stopping (but I've never tried to stop "fast"). I did activate the abs once w/o putting it to the floor. Should I bleed the brakes? Could it be something else; if so, how do I check/remedy it? Thanks in advance for any help!
Also, the brakes never look shiny (like on most cars), they stay a dull (almost rusty) color. I don't think it's rust because I've seen some obvious rust on them (after it rains); and this always comes right off when the car is driven. Could this have anything to do with the car sitting, relatively unused for a year? It only has a couple hundred miles since then, mostly short trips (about 5-10 miles).
Thanks again for any help!!!

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Old 01-06-2006, 05:54 PM   #2
amazinghl
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

The brake pedal travel distance is probably fine.
Your front rotors are warped. Changed them with cheapest rotor you can find and along with the decent pads, then, bleed the brakes. (Buy the 1 gal DOT 3 from napa and new bleeding valves too)

That's what I'd do. (Did that to all three of my cars) Probably cost you under $100, if you do it on your own, but knowing you can stop when you need the most is priceless.

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Old 01-06-2006, 07:22 PM   #3
Sky King
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1999 SC2
1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Brake pedals should never go all the way to the floor, ABS or not. I am not real familiar with the actual function of the ABS control but a pedal that goes all the way to the floor ususally means that there is a leak somewhere, either internal, ie the master cylinder bypassing internally or external somewhere else. If it is external, obviously you will be loosing brake fluid. Check the level in the resevoir. As for the pulsing and vibrating, you have warped rotors. As Amazinghl said, get some new rotors. They are inexpensive from a variety of aftermarket sources such as NAPA and AutoZone, just replace them. If your fluid level was allowed to get low enough, you may have sucked some air into the system. This would result in a spongy feel to the pedal. This would necessitate bleeding. I think ABS systems require a bit different proceedures for the bleeding process. A search on this board should result in a good "HOW TO" on this.

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Old 01-06-2006, 07:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Funny, I can pushing the pedal all the way down to the floor, if I push hard enough.

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Old 01-06-2006, 08:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Unless tha e car is actually USING brake fluid (level regularly drops in the mastercylinder resevoir) It sounds like either frozen (stuck) FRONT calipers and or SEVERLY worn brake pads to me.

If you have never done brake work before, have the brakes looked at professionally. Brakes with existing problems are not for amatuers. (No offense meant)

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Old 01-06-2006, 08:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by amazinghl
Funny, I can pushing the pedal all the way down to the floor, if I push hard enough.
To be honest, you really shouldn't be able to. I understand you probably don't ever have the need to push that hard but liquid, ie brake fluid, is not compressable. When the pads and shoes reach the end of their travel upon contact with the rotor and drums, that should be the end of the travel for the pedal. Actually that is why you feel the pedal pulsing with warped rotors. The pads are being pushed back which pushes fluid back up to the master cyl and hence you feel it in the pedal.

A pedal that goes all the way to the floor is indicative of several possible problems. Like I indicated in the earlier post, you can have leaks either internal or external. The fluid is bypassing in the master cylinder or being pushed out somewhere externally. You would usually notice as a slow bleeding down of the pedal with steady foot pressure. The other is extreemly worn brake components, such as pads or shoes which means the pedal has to be pushed further to get these items to travel far enough to make contact. This is a general statment because disc brakes don't actually fully retract like shoes in drum brakes when the pedal is released.

Another cause could be air in the system but this us usually felt as a spongy peday because air is compressable. As the pedal is pushed, you compress the air in the system. It is spongy because the air will push back but you can press harder and get more pedal travel as the air compresses.

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Old 01-06-2006, 08:29 PM   #7
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1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
Unless tha e car is actually USING brake fluid (level regularly drops in the mastercylinder resevoir) It sounds like either frozen (stuck) FRONT calipers and or SEVERLY worn brake pads to me.

If you have never done brake work before, have the brakes looked at professionally. Brakes with existing problems are not for amatuers. (No offense meant)
I just had the car inspected and they said (although I don't know how much to trust the guys at the local auto shop-they broke (crushed) two of my wheel locks after all-after I gave them the key, they still insisted on using their tool) that the brakes were in good condition (I'm assuming that they meant the pads). Would they also check the calipers?
Yes, I am an amateur, (although I'm the only person in my tech class (PLTW) that would go near (let alone use) the welding equipment-that includes the instructor (what a joke)), however, my father has always done all of the work on our cars, and he would, of course, help me.
About the rotors, I suspected that they were warped, however, being 17 (and spending all of my time on school work), even cheap rotors are more than I can afford-I could probably convince my parents to chip in if it is necessary, however, I'd rather just put up with the pulsation if it is not dangerous.
As for the caliper, if it's frozen will I have to replace it, (or can it be unstuck)? How much $$ to replace a caliper on a Saturn (I know it cost a fortune on my mom's car-not a Saturn though)?
About the fluid, I can't tell how much there's supposed to be (I can't find any lines or anything on the container) but it appears to be normal (compared to my family's other cars) and the level hasn't changed at all-it's not loosing any. Am I correct that bleeding a '95 SL2 with ABS is the same as one without (even though some saturns are different with ABS)?
I really appreciate all the help I'm getting, keep the info coming! Thanks

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Old 01-06-2006, 09:01 PM   #8
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1992 SL1
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

you say pulsating brakes? Thats not usually just from warping brakes, but by also having bad lower ball joints and/or tie rods, i know mine are not warped, and it gets pulsations all the time. I would recommend having those looked at. ( Also, i checked history on my car, lower ball joints were replaced 2 times already, so i would check on that just to be sure)

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Old 01-06-2006, 09:10 PM   #9
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1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JS593
you say pulsating brakes? Thats not usually just from warping brakes, but by also having bad lower ball joints and/or tie rods, i know mine are not warped, and it gets pulsations all the time. I would recommend having those looked at. ( Also, i checked history on my car, lower ball joints were replaced 2 times already, so i would check on that just to be sure)
Wouldn't that be checked during inspection? The mechanic said my car was one of the best he's seen that's 10 years old with 60,000 miles. I know inspection covers tie rod ends; we've replaced several over the years for inspection (not on the saturn-other cars).

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Old 01-06-2006, 09:22 PM   #10
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1992 SL1
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasticCarsRock
Wouldn't that be checked during inspection? The mechanic said my car was one of the best he's seen that's 10 years old with 60,000 miles. I know inspection covers tie rod ends; we've replaced several over the years for inspection (not on the saturn-other cars).
If they ahave already inspected it then i wouldnt worry too much. Its just something to look out for... up here we tend to go through lower ball joints and tie rod ends every 2 years or so....

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Old 01-07-2006, 05:12 AM   #11
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1998 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

check also the chiltons for bleeding procedures when brakes pulsate does steering wheel jerk to one side or the other?because this usually means that there is still air in the brake lines or in the mater cylinder .If the brakes are not completely bled properly then thats normally what happens.

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:10 AM   #12
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by amazinghl
Funny, I can pushing the pedal all the way down to the floor, if I push hard enough.
me too. is that a problem?

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:25 AM   #13
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

You all have wierd problems. At least to me. My 91, god rest it's soul, had 100% clean & full brake fluid @ 114,000 miles. All I had to replace was front pads (got full ceramic), rear shoes (got semi-ceramic), and front rotors (went with Powerstop Cross drilled rotors). My rear drums didn't even need turned. You wanna talk about a hella stopping Saturn. Only way I could get it to stop better would've been to put a rear disc coversion kit. Didn't have the $$$ for that one. And my pedal, no matter how hard I tried to push it, never went past about halfway down. I coupled the brake system with good tires, and could do 108mph to 0mph in about as many feet.

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:33 AM   #14
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mkapp
me too. is that a problem?
Does it stop? Any leak?

If no to both, I wouldn't worry about it.

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Old 01-07-2006, 01:13 PM   #15
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1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

The car does not noticably pull to either side, however, the brake fluid appears black-looking in from the top of the resovoir. Is this just because the container is dark? Could this caused by air or some other problem? I don't think I have an internal leak because the pedal does not sink closer to the floor during a normal stop/sitting in traffic, etc. What color should the brake fluid be; I don't think it should be black. Please help. Also, thanks to everyone who has posted here with information.

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Old 01-07-2006, 01:36 PM   #16
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

yeah, brake fluid is normally a clear purplish color so when in the resevoir it looks different.
I did a disc conversion on mine not to long ago and when I changed fluid it was the same way.

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Old 01-08-2006, 08:13 AM   #17
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Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

To my mind a soft pedal (A pedal you can shove to the floor is soft.) with no accompanying loss in brake fluid indicates a problem with the master cylinder. These can failed catastrophically. If you don't want to replace it yourself, get it checked right away.

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Old 01-08-2006, 11:31 AM   #18
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1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

Is there anything I can do tho check the master cylinder myself? If not, I'm visiting the dealer soon to pick up a transaxel fluid filter, could they check it then or would I need an appointment? Anyone know how much it would cost (just to be checked)?

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Old 01-08-2006, 02:36 PM   #19
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1995 SL2
Default Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

If I pump the brake pedal several times with the car not running (the key out) the pedal will become firm and I cannot push it to the floor (not within reason anyway-I don't want to break anything (eg. the seat, my leg etc.)). Does this indicate anything?? Thanks for all of the suggestions I'm getting, I will bleed the brakes soon, that may help.

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Old 01-08-2006, 05:25 PM   #20
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Dizzy Re: SL2 brakes (pedal goes to floor, etc)

i have found after haveing a saturn sl2 that the mastercilanders are not good at all i had to get a new one from the dealer 2 weeks in to my car and then 3 months later i just did it my self because the after markets are way better they last for ever but i have ran in to a problem with the calipers locking up my neibor has one and it has gone through 3 of them from the dealers and i put aftermarkes on and it has not had a problem

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