No brake fluid going to right rear

Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 TOYOTA AVALON
  • 3.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 165,235 MILES
I replaced all brake pads front and rear and went to bleed the system starting from the furthest wheel from the master as I was taught and that was the right rear. Open up bleeder no fluid! Removed bleeder still no fluid? I continued to bleed the other three wheels and all were fine. Fluid to all. Beside the obvious crimped brake line what else could do this? Portioning valve? Just to one wheel?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Tom.
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 AT 2:49 PM

9 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It sounds like you have a plugged bleeder, try to remove it all the way.

Here is a complete guide on how to bleed brakes and flush them:

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-bleed-or-flush-a-car-brake-system

An issue is you likely used a helper to pump the brake pedal and he pushed it to the floor. The brake pedal must never be pushed more than halfway to the floor, unless the master cylinder is less than about a year old. Crud and corrosion build up in the lower halves of the bores where the pistons do not normally travel. When the pedal is pushed further than normal the pistons run over that crud and the lip seals can be ripped. That will lead to internal leakage and a slowly sinking brake pedal, and that may not show up for a few days.

The next concern is some master cylinders have a valve inside that trips to block fluid flow to one or two wheels when a leak develops, as in a rusted steel line or ruptured flex hose. That prevents a total loss of brake fluid. If you have that design and the right rear wheel was bled first, that valve would have tripped as soon as the brake pedal was pressed with the bleeder screw open. That would explain the no fluid at the right rear.

The fix for that blocked fluid flow is to open that bleeder screw, loosen the cap on the reservoir, then give a very short, quick blast of compressed air to that bleeder screw. The goal is just to move that valve in the master cylinder. You do not want to force any more air into the line than you have to because it will just have to be bled back out again.

If all you did was replace brake pads, there is no need to do any bleeding, although all manufacturer do have a recommended time interval to replace the brake fluid to get the moisture out that it has absorbed. If you are just doing this recommended fluid maintenance, open one bleeder screw at a time and to avoid making a mess, stick a hose onto it and run the hose into a bottle. Loosen the reservoir cap and let the fluid run through on its own. Be sure to not let the reservoir run empty or you will have a lot of bleeding to do.

All of the problems can be avoided by gravity-bleeding the system. That is the only method I have used for over twenty five years. Simply open all four bleeder screws, loosen the cap on the reservoir to prevent vacuum from building as the fluid tries to run down, then wait for the fluid to start dripping from one wheel. When it does, close that bleeder screw, then do the same thing for each next wheel as the fluid shows up. Once all four wheels are bled, "irritate" the brake pedal a few times by pushing it down about an inch by hand. That will wash any remaining air bubbles into the calipers and wheel cylinders. Open each bleeder for a few seconds to burp those bubbles out.

The next thing is you are going to have to exercise the brake pedal a few times to run the pistons out of the calipers until the new pads contact the rotors. When you do that, again, never push the pedal more than halfway to the floor to prevent damage to the master cylinder.

There are a number of things professionals do to avoid causing brake noises and to reduce those noises that occur naturally. I can cover those if you want me to.
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 AT 3:32 PM
Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
I tried all that and still have no fluid going to the right rear. Thanks, Tom
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 AT 7:07 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If you gave the right rear bleeder screw a shot of compressed air and there is still no brake fluid coming out, you may need to work the brake pedal a little to convince the fluid to start flowing. Usually pushing the pedal down about an inch a few times is enough to get it started. Be sure the cap is loose on the reservoir too, otherwise vacuum will build up in it which will stop the fluid from running out.
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 AT 7:18 PM
Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
I will try that tomorrow and get back to you. Thanks, Tom
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 AT 8:07 PM
Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
Well, I found out why no fluid was going to the right rear wheel. The bleeder screw was clogged, but now I have an intermittent brake pedal. First stop is fine second stop just about to the floor. If I put pressure on the pedal it goes all the way to the floor. Pump it and it is right back at the top. And this repeats after every other stop. Time for a new master cylinder? No leaks anywhere.
Any thoughts on this? Thanks, Tom
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Friday, April 3rd, 2015 AT 3:29 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
When you have drum brakes on the rear, badly-misadjusted shoes will cause a low brake pedal that will be overcome by pumping the pedal multiple times. The pedal will go low again after it is released for at least a few seconds which gives the shoes time to retract away from the drums again. You have disc brakes on the rear so we can rule that out.

Rear calipers that have the parking brake built into them will not self-adjust simply from working the brake pedal like all front calipers do. The parking brake has to be exercised a few times to cause them to adjust. Until that is done, the brake pedal can be too low because a rear piston will travel much too far before it contacts the pads and pressure can start to build, but they will not stay there. The pistons will pull back again rather than self-adjust. This is not an issue with your car either because your parking brake is a separate internal drum brake similar to the very trouble-free design Chrysler used for many years.

You have ruled out an external leak, and that would not be intermittent. An internal leak inside the master cylinder can be intermittent like you described. Based on the recent work that was done, my vote is for internal leakage in the master cylinder. There is a trick you can use to make replacing it easier, but this might be a little tricky on your car. Remember when I said to never push the brake pedal more than halfway to the floor to prevent tearing the lip seals in the master cylinder? Well, that does not apply to a rebuilt unit that is less than about a year old because that crud has not developed yet. You must bench-bleed the replacement unit and it is okay to run the pistons all the way in.

Once you are done bench-bleeding the new unit and it is ready to install, loosen the two steel lines on the old master cylinder, unbolt it from the booster and pull it away, then use it as a handle to bend the steel lines up a little so the brake fluid will not run out. One of your lines comes off the top so you are on your own for that one. Just do whatever works. Screw the lines onto the new master cylinder, use it to bend the lines back down, then bolt it to the booster. Now, with those lines still cracked loose, have a helper push the brake pedal down very slowly. It should take about fifteen seconds to run the pedal halfway to the floor. As he does that, you'll see air bubbles pop out by the line nut, at least the lower one. Snug those nuts for both lines, then holler to your helper to quickly release the pedal. Once it is fully-released, loosen the nuts again about a quarter turn, then have the helper slowly push the pedal again. Be sure to tighten the nuts before he releases the pedal, otherwise air will be drawn back in. At most you might have to do this three times until you do not see any more bubbles.

Now, with both lines fully-tightened, have your helper push the pedal again, but still very slowly like before. Use a wrench to tap on the steel lines while he is moving the pedal. Once the pedal is down about halfway or so, have him release the pedal, again, very quickly. Do that a few times and you are done. By pushing the pedal slowly, the few remaining air bubbles in the lines will float back up while brake fluid gets pushed down to the wheels. Tapping on the lines with a wrench will loosen the air bubbles that stick to the lines. By releasing the pedal quickly, the fluid rushing back up will wash the air bubbles into the reservoir. This should work for the front line that comes off the top of the master cylinder. It will be easier to convince those bubbles to travel into the reservoir than to travel all the way down to a caliper.

This trick works well too when you are gravity-bleeding the brakes and the reservoir runs empty, as long as you catch it right away. Another trick if the wheels are still off is to use a flat-blade screwdriver to pry the piston back into one of the calipers. That will push the brake fluid back up rapidly to the reservoir and take any air with it.
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Saturday, April 4th, 2015 AT 7:39 PM
Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
Thanks. Will get a new master cylinder and let you know how it goes. Thanks again, Tom
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Sunday, April 5th, 2015 AT 12:02 AM
Tiny
TOPDAD1947
  • MEMBER
Finally installed new master cylinder all is well brakes are fine now. Thanks for all your help. Tom. P.S. Have any knowledge of cooling systems on Toyota's?
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Sunday, April 12th, 2015 AT 8:21 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I can help with generic cooling system wisdom. I am not familiar with specific details related to your car.
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Monday, April 13th, 2015 AT 7:28 PM

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