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Old 08-05-2020, 03:51 PM   #1
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Dizzy 2007 Ion NON-ABS Low Pedal after brake work

boy oh boy where to start. Blew out a rear wheel cylinder at 170K miles. Replaced the cylinders, shoes, springs, drums in rear. Did the pads and rotors in the front while I was at it because they were pretty much due. I was pretty certain that I trashed the seals in the master cylinder when bleeding it because i was getting clear bubble free fluid at each wheel, in this order RR/LF/LR/RF, and still had no pedal. It would just go to the floor. Got a new master cylinder and no improvement. Had a mobile mechanic come by and he thought I got a defective one after trying a manual two person bleed job. Brought it back for a replacement, same issue. I can get the car to stop, the pedal is just super super low and i don't feel like I have the stopping power it should, especially with all new brake components (sans calipers in the front). Again, clear bubble free fluid at all wheels. The fluid was old and gross, I have bled it so much now that it is clear new fluid present in the whole system.

But the damn master cylinder. As the thread title indicates, it is a non ABS and it is an automatic so the master is fairly simple, two ports. As I understand one circuit is right rear and left front, the other circuit is the other two wheels. When I first tried to bench bleed I had a conundrum because you cant really install the bleeder plugs and route the hoses into the reservoir because the reservoir on this vehicle is tiny and has a very small barb fitting for the hose from the main fluid reservoir to connect to. You cant really fit the little clear hoses that you would normally bench bleed with into that small opening in the barb fitting. I tried but it felt like they were pretty pinched shut. I also tried a bleeding tool that I had success with on other vehicles, a syringe with a rubber thing on the end to push up against the ports and force fluid in and air out from the ports. I'm honestly not sure if either method worked.

There are no bleeder valves on the master cylinder and it installs on the car at a pretty steep angle so I don't know how you could bleed it on the car. Even with the rear of the car jacked way way up on jack stands it is still nowhere near level.

With it being able to stop, albeit with the pedal way down near the floor, I brought it to a reputable mechanic in my area and he couldn't figure out what what is going on. Local GM dealer wont take the vehicle in for service because it is over 10 years old and they haven't been the primary mechanic on it. Annoying.

I am at a loss on how to bleed this car to get my brake pedal back. All of the threads I have seen relating to this have been for cars with ABS and/or manual transmissions and that doesn't really apply to me. If anyone has any insight on how to resolve this issue I would happily send a sanitized care package of the finest local beer the great state of New Hampshire has to offer.
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Old 08-06-2020, 05:33 AM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2007 Ion NON-ABS Low Pedal after brake work

You're not alone;, from 4/15/2014.
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Old 08-06-2020, 05:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2007 Ion NON-ABS Low Pedal after brake work

I had this problem on my car (manual trans, no ABS) after replacing the rear shoes. In short, the self-adjusters for the rear shoes weren't adjusted out far enough after the new shoes were installed. I'm surprised your mechanic didn't catch this.

This will cause low rear braking power, more brake pedal travel before braking occurs, and a park brake that doesn't work very well if at all. The park brake should be able to hold the car on a modest decline with only about 5-6 clicks. If it doesn't then the shoes probably need to be adjusted outward more. I had to readjust them a couple times before I got it right. I found that they needed to be adjusted out enough for the drums to be difficult to slip on over the shoes. Once you have the shoes adjusted properly, everything will feel and work right. Do not tighten the park brake cable more unless you know for sure the shoes are properly adjusted because it won't do any good.

This problem is more noticeable on manual transmission cars because the park brake is (or at least should be) used every time the car is parked. This isn't the case with an automatic transmission car so it often goes unnoticed.

The wheel cylinders in drum brakes that aren't properly adjusted need more hydraulic fluid to extend further out before the shoes hit the drums. All that movement with no resistance makes the brake pedal softer. Wheel cylinders don't keep their position as the shoes wear because the springs attached to the shoes force them to retract when you let up on the brake pedal. As the shoes wear the self adjusters are designed to gradually to unscrew outward to make up for it.

There's nothing on disc brakes that forces the calipers to retract. The caliper pistons just gradually hold more fluid as the pads wear. That's why you shouldn't ever need to add brake fluid and also why the caliper pistons need to be compressed when you replace brake pads.
2007 Ion 2 Quad Coupe 5-speed manual 183K miles *gone*
2007 Chevy Equinox LT 205K miles
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L 74K miles

Last edited by ruley73; 08-06-2020 at 05:30 PM.
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bleed, brakes, low pedal

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