Brakes not working as good as they used to

Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
  • 2000 FORD RANGER
  • 3.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 108,000 MILES
My brakes will work sometimes and sometimes they would not be as good when I got the vehicle. It had no brake fluid, but I filled it up and bled the brakes after I got it and while I was driving the brakes just stopped working while I was driving. I was thinking it is the master cylinder?
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 4:07 PM

13 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You have to explain what "not working" means. There are a dozen different things that can fall under that description.
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 4:29 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
They did not work at all when I pressed on them, but when I got it they were spongy even after I bled them.
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 4:37 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
"Spongy" I can work with. "They did not work at all when I pressed on them" is like saying "I am in pain". Unless I get specific, you have no clue if I have a hang nail, a stomach ache, I cut my foot off with a chainsaw, or my ex-girlfriend came back. Tell me if the brake pedal goes too far to the floor. Is the pedal too high and unusually hard? Does the pedal feel normal but the truck does not slow down as fast as it should? Tell me what it is that makes you think there is a problem?
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 4:52 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
It goes to the floor and does not stop at all.
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 5:06 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
What would happen if the master cylinder had air in it?
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 5:35 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. My guess, based partly on mileage, but mainly on age, is the master cylinder has been damaged. Depending on the design of the reservoir, you may be able to find a clue that proves if I am right. When you just start pushing the brake pedal, brake fluid is pushed out of the two "replenishing" ports, also called the return ports. That fluid will squirt up and splash onto the reservoir cap, or if you are really aggressive, it can actually splash onto the bottom of the hood. Once the pedal is pushed far enough that the lip seals have passed those ports, the fluid is trapped and no more will squirt out. That trapped fluid is what gets pushed down to the wheels.

When the lip seals have been damaged, they don't push any brake fluid, so you wont get those two nice solid squirts. If you have a single round cap on the reservoir, you may not see those squirts even if they are there.

You can also try loosening the steel lines slightly at the master cylinder, then watch while a helper pushes the brake pedal about 1/4 way to the floor. The fluid streams should be strong with no air bubbles. Be aware that if you do not tighten those lines before the pedal is released, air will be drawn back in. That air can be removed by doing the same thing but your helper must push the pedal very slowly while the lines are cracked open, then hold it there, then you must tighten the lines before the pedal is released. You can also get the air out yourself by simply pushing the pedal very slowly about halfway to the floor, then releasing it very quickly. Pushing it slowly allows the air bubbles to float back up as the fluid goes down. Releasing it quickly washes the air bubbles into the reservoir as the fluid rushes back. This same procedure works when replacing the master cylinder, as long as it was bench-bleed before it was installed on the truck. I never have to bleed at the wheels when I replace a master cylinder.

Also consider that if your truck has anti-lock brakes, you may need a scanner to command some of the valves open to let the air escape from their chambers. That only applies to some vehicles that have four-wheel anti-lock brakes. A lot of trucks had rear-wheel, (RWAL) anti-lock brakes. Those have a much simpler valve design that sits under the driver's seat area, and do not require special bleeding procedures.
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 5:36 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
I also have a winning noise when I hit fifty five to sixty miles per hour. I do not know what that could be from, but it is coming somewhere from the rear end.
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Monday, October 17th, 2016 AT 6:28 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Lets get the brake issue handled first.
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Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 AT 9:22 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
I'm going to replace the master cylinder and see if that works and when I press the brakes the fluid leaks out from where the reservoir connects to the master cylinder
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 AT 3:22 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Hey RICKIE,

I have this guide for you to replace the master cylinder, check it out.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-replace-a-brake-master-cylinder

Please let us know what you find so it will help others.

Best, Ken
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 AT 7:03 PM
Tiny
RICKIE PORTER
  • MEMBER
I replaced the master cylinder and they work great now
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 AT 7:27 PM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Glad we could get it fixed please use 2CarPros. Com anytime we are here to help

Best, Ken
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 AT 9:15 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
All right! One in a row. Happy to hear it's solved.
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Thursday, October 20th, 2016 AT 5:48 PM

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