Broken Brakes

Last month at the IPD Garage Sale I bought a complete set of vented rotors, calipers, and pads for the front brakes on my 1978 242. After swapping this new equipment onto the car, which badly needed it, I noticed that the brake failure light was coming on. After several bleeding sequences using the Motive Power Bleeder there was no change.  The car was driven for quite a while with a spongy, yet functional brake pedal.  Since the brakes were still working fine, I was convinced that their was still air in the system, and that it would work itself out over time through successive brake bleedings.  Despite several further bleedings, the problem remained.

Two days ago, when I went to bleed the brakes on more time, I noticed that the rear passenger’s caliper had started to leak out of one of the piston seals.  “Ah ha,” I thought, “this must have been the cause all along.”  I ordered a new caliper from a local CarQuest ($44), installed it, and… still got the same spongy brake pedal and brake failure light.  IPD sells their rebuilt calipers – same Ate brand – for $105.50 (less $27.50 core) = $78.00 and YOU have to pay shipping to return the core.

After consultation with some of the gurus on turbobricks, it seemed likely that the brake master cylinder had failed.  I ordered a remanufactured one from local parts supplier Baxter Auto Parts for $45, including core charge.  IPD sells this part for $132.92 (no core charge).  Well, the master cylinder fixed the problem, and I now have a nice firm brake pedal and no brake failure warning light randomly turning on and off.  Hooray!

One thought on “Broken Brakes”

  1. Helpful information:
    I had a pretty bad problem with my 1984 244 DL (B23F). Had the front brakes fixed (Meineke), needed calipers, pads and rotor resurfacing. 2 days later the brakes failed completely, pedal just got soft real fast and then just went right to the floor. Limped home in 1st/2nd gears w/parking brake.
    Brought it back, they claimed that there was air in the brake lines and that the lines needed to be re-bled. Fine.
    I didn’t have any tools at the time, so had to let them do it.
    Later that day the brakes failed again.
    Brought it to another repair shop (closest one to me was a Mavis unfortunately), they re-bled the brakes and put in a new master brake cylinder.
    2 days later, same problem. Brake fluid was boiling in the lines. Had Mavis re-bleed brake lines. Later that day – same problem yet again!
    Decided I wasn’t going back to Mavis again.
    Brought it to a small garage where the car has been before and I trust these guys (they were extremely busy for the past week and didn’t have time to work on the car, which is why I went elsewhere in the first place.
    They discovered that the new parts actually had THREE bleed valves per side, the old ones (and the only make they were familiar with at the Meineke and the Mavis) – and no, unfortunately I do not recall the parts manufacturers right now – ONLY HAD 2 bleed valves. They hadn’t been bleeding the system properly from the get go! Two different shops!
    My mechanic bled all three valves on each side, and I’ve never had the same problem since (going on 2 years now). Hope this is helpful to others out there!!!
    After what my mechanic told me, there’s a good chance that I didn’t actually need the master brake cylinder at all – just a PROPER bleed job!!! So this may same some other owners out there some money at least.

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