1999 Chrysler Sebring Front Brakes Dragging

Tiny
RANDY52644
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 CHRYSLER SEBRING
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 114,000 MILES
Bought this car used about 3 weeks ago. Replaced front pads because one pad gone, another metal on metal. It had been sitting on the lot all winter prior to me buying it.

Replaced rotors, pads, calipers. Daughter drove it to school 40 miles and OK. 8 hours later when returning home, she noticed brake pedal felt hard when pressed. Also had to push hard to get brakes to work. After a couple miles of stop and go city driving, couldn't get past 40 MPH once she got on the 4 lane. She could smell hot brakes.

I told her to pull over and stop. 20 minutes later she started the car again and after putting the car in gear and taking her foot off the brake, the car would coast and pull itself without brakes dragging. She drove remaining 38 miles home without incident. This same problem happened 2 days later.

When she got home, both front rotors are hot enough to burn and have a slight smell. The last 20 miles home are rural driving with very little braking required.

I jacked up each front wheel and both can be turned by hand without much effort.

Fluid in master appears clear and not milky.
This car does not have ABS.
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Friday, March 26th, 2010 AT 8:37 PM

10 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I think you're going to find a real easy fix, ... I hope.

My guess is you jacked the front end up and found the brakes were free an hour or more after the car was driven. That gives the brakes a chance to release. If you press the pedal again, I suspect you will find it is high and hard, and then the brakes will drag.

Loosen the two steel lines at the master cylinder and you should find the brakes do not release. Open the bleeder screw on one caliper and it WILL release. If it does, look for a metal bracket holding the center of the rubber brake hose. Rust builds up inside the crimp and constricts the hose. Fluid can be forced past the restriction with heavy pedal effort, but it can't release and go back into the reservoir. Use a channel lock pliers to open that crimp up just a little.

The other clue is the car was sitting for a long time. That's when this typically happens.

Carsdiodoc
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Friday, March 26th, 2010 AT 9:30 PM
Tiny
RANDY52644
  • MEMBER
Thank you for your quick reply. However not all your statements are true in my situation.

After my daughter returned home, both front rotors were still too hot too touch. However I could stop and go, stop and go in my driveway without locking up. Even a short trip down the highway and everything was OK. I must have pressed the brakes during that test run two dozen times without lockup.

Both times she experienced lock up were on the return trip home. We live in a rural area so not much braking until she arrives at school in the big city in the morning and no lock up.

The car sits for 8 hours before heading home. She has a couple miles of stoplights then open country for the last leg of the trip. In both cases, it was when she left the stop and go and got on the open road that things got hot. Is this just coincidence or could there be something factoring in?

In the morning I will check for the clip you mentioned. Also going shopping for all new rubber hoses for both sides. Do you think the master cylinder would be suspect?
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Friday, March 26th, 2010 AT 10:08 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Yes, the master cylinder can cause this, but if it is, you have much bigger problems. Look at the rubber bladder seal under the reservoir cap. If it is ballooned up and mushy, the fluid is contaminated with petroleum product. The lip seals in the master cylinder will also expand like that and they'll grow past the return ports. When the brakes heat up, the heat will transfer to the fluid which will heat up and expand, but since it's trapped and can't get back to the reservoir, the brakes apply harder, and get hotter. The only proper repair for this problem is to replace every rubber part in the entire hydraulic system.

Don't change the hoses yet until you've checked for fluid contamination. If only a few parts are replaced, they too will become contaminated. Then, if you replace the other parts and fluid later, the contamination will leach out of the new hoses and recontaminate the new fluid.

If the rotors are that hot after such little braking, the calipers have to be staying applied. You have to catch it while it's happening. If you loosen the lines at the master cylinder, and the brakes release, you'll know the master cylinder is the cause. If the hoses are constricted, the calipers will only release by opening the bleeder screws.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, March 27th, 2010 AT 2:36 AM
Tiny
RANDY52644
  • MEMBER
The rubber seal under the cap is normal and not sticking out or bulging. The fluid is completely clear and you can see the bottom of the reservoir clearly. No dirt or sludge in the bottom.

If the fluid was contaminated, would it appear so clear and clean? When the calipers were replaced, the purged fluid finally also became clear and not milky.
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Saturday, March 27th, 2010 AT 6:29 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Sorry for the delay in replying. My Verizon e-mail service is down for maintenance going on two days now. I am not receiving automated messages that you posted another comment. Hopefully that will be fixed soon.

Based on your observations, I don't think you have to worry about fluid contamination. You are going to have to catch this while the problem is occurring. The odd thing is that both front calipers are affected. This is a split-diagonal system so each front brake is on a different hydraulic circuit. Getting one to release probably won't release the other one.

There are three things that could allow the hydraulic circuits to release pressure. When the problem occurs for you, park on a slight incline and leave the car in neutral so you'll know when the brakes release. (I suggest not parking on a long or steep hill. You'll look funny chasing after the car like I did once)! You can loosen the two nuts holding the master cylinder to the power booster. 1/8" is plenty. If the brakes release, the booster's pushrod is misadjusted. Swollen lip seals will not release when doing this because the pistons in the master cylinder are already fully released.

Next, loosen the steel lines where they bolt to the master cylinder. If you do this with the reservoir cap loose, no air will enter the system. If the brakes release, the lip seals are swollen or the pistons in the master cylinder aren't fully returning. If that doesn't help, loosen the bleeder screws at the two front wheels. If they release, the hoses are constricted. If, by some chance, they still don't release, the caliper mounting surfaces should be smoothed with a flat file to remove rust and dirt that are preventing the caliper from sliding sideways freely. Those surfaces should receive a light coating of high-temperature brake grease. Also look for bolt-on pins the caliper mounts with. They must be free of rust pits and hardened grease. If you pry the pistons into the calipers with a flat blade screwdriver, you should be able to slide the caliper sideways a little with hard hand pressure. If the caliper won't slide, it will keep the outer pad applied and it will wear much faster than the inner pad.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, March 28th, 2010 AT 9:44 PM
Tiny
RANDY52644
  • MEMBER
Here's my latest update.

I have now changed:

Both rotors, pads, calipers, rubber brakes hoses and the master cylinder. I have flushed almost 24 ounces of brake fluid throughout the entire system including front and rear.

Both rotors are still too hot too touch after driving the car about 3 miles using the brake very little.

The brakes never stick at a stop sign and the car rolls freely after driving. It appears to take about 40-50 miles of driving before the rotors and pads get so hot as to drag the car to a stop.

Going in a different direction tomorrow. Buying both front hub assembles. I don't think it had anything to do with the brakes after all.

Randy
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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 AT 10:00 PM
Tiny
DAVEMAC13
  • MEMBER
I have a 97 neon, and a very similar problem occurs. I replaced the front pads, and a few days later, on a very hot day, the front left brake wouldn't release, had a brake burning smell and melted the plastic hubcap off. The mechanic said the caliper was seizing, bought a new caliper. Few days later when it was hot again, same thing happened, I pulled to the side of the road, got out looked at it (like my stare could fix it), got back in the car, started it and it was fine for the ride home. Then winter came, zero problems all winter, yesterday it was hot (about 75) and the same issue happened. When it does happen, the pedal feels different, less play to go hard, and it seems to fix itself or release when I let it sit for about 5 minutes. Mechanic seems confused and wants to replace this that and the other thing. Never heard of this problem before, he says. The engine creaks and pops alot when it is cooling, following this issue. It only seems to occur on hot days, fluid was replaced when the caliper was done. Any thoughts? BTW Randy, replaced my hubs 2 years ago

Dave
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 8:07 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Look back a ways in this thread to my comment about peeling open the bracket that holds the center of the hose. Rust buildup inside the crimp constricts the hose.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 10:53 AM
Tiny
RANDY52644
  • MEMBER
My Sebring didn't have the metal band on the brake hose. I did however replace the hoses anyway. When the old hose were cut open next to the fittings, no rust was found and the inner rubber lining appeared to be intact. In fact after replacing the hoses, I still had issues.

I don't want to jinx myself but it appears my daughter's Sebring "may" be fixed. She has driven it over 100 miles without any brake overheating issues.

It appears in my case, there may have been several problems causing the brakes to overheat. However the problem may have been fixed before finally replacing both front hub assemblies.

Several people told me front disc brakes should not run hot under normal driving conditions. This statement caused me to chase my tail longer than I should have. After checking front rotors on a number of vehicles, I found that almost all were hot enough to cause a severe burn.

I believe my problem may have been fixed after replacing one or all of the following parts:

Pads, calipers, rotors, hoses and master cylinder. When the rotors still ran too hot too touch, both hub assemblies were replaced. True, it was money well spent since both hubs were in poor condition. I do believe the poorer condition of the right hub was responsible for the right rotor running even hotter than normal.

It was an expensive "shotgun" approach by replacing everything one piece at a time. When I get ready to work on the rear brakes, I'll replace everything the first time.
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 6:31 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Wonderful news. Hope it stays working properly.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 AT 1:12 AM

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