Are my brakes going to give out on me orrrrrr

Tiny
MAGGIECAIT
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 FORD FOCUS
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 130,000 MILES
My car was working fine and then the other day I turned it on and all of a sudden I had to push the brakes down much longer to get it to stop. When I checked the brake fluid, it was about empty. I put more in, but the brakes didn't work any better. I've still been using my car (I am a college student with no money) and the fluid hasn't gone down again so I'm pretty sure it's not a leak. I tried bleeding the brakes on my own but was only able to get one. As far as I can tell, there's no other symptoms like noises or anything, it just takes much longer to stop and the reservoir was empty when I looked. I don't want to take it to a mechanic and have them tell me I need all new everything if it's not that serious (I simply can't afford it). Plus, I need to drive about five hours in two days. What do I need to do?
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Monday, November 23rd, 2015 AT 9:06 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Low brake fluid level can be caused by worn front brake pads, although you would have pumped air down just a little way. By working the brake pedal, eventually that air would have worked its way back out. Bleeding is only going to force that air down further where it can be difficult to remove.

Another possible cause is an external leak. The red "Brake" warning light should have turned on, either due to low fluid level, or unequal pressures in the two hydraulic systems. A pad could have rusted off its backing plate. That can happen to a rear shoe too. Either one will cause a sudden low pedal.

The safest approach is to have the brake system inspected. There are some mass merchandisers that do that for free.
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Monday, November 23rd, 2015 AT 10:01 PM

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