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Brake Fluid is Leaking


winkmccarthy's Avatar
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12-24-02, 05:45 AM   #1  
winkmccarthy
Brake Fluid is Leaking

I've been having to refill my brake fluid every 4-5 days. I have no parking brake either, but my brakes had been working well, until this morning on my way to work. They were completely soft when I left, and had to use my engine to slow me down. Any ideas on what this could be? I can't drive the car until I get it fixed, since the brakes are completely gone. The car is a 1988 Mazda 626 DX four cylinder. Any help would be most appreciated, as I'm a woman and tend to get ripped at auto shops. I'd like to take it in with a clue. Thanks!

 
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Jason R's Avatar
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12-24-02, 06:56 AM   #2  
You certainly have a leak somewhere (and probably ran the master cylinder out of fluid). If you want further diagnosis you'll have to look to see from where the fluid is leaking.

Have a helper. One of you pushes the brake pedal with slow full strokes. (You'll have to have fluid in the master cylinder) The other person watches under the car to see where brake fluid is dripping or spraying under the car. I used to be able to do this by myself…… If you’re still nimble enough give it a try.

If you can't see it dripping anywhere, don’t forget to look in all wheel wells and check the backs of all 4 tires. A brake leak close to one of the wheels (possibly with mechanical brake components that are leaking) will usually coat the inside of the tire with oily brake fluid.

I can't imagine how somebody can rip you off on a repair like this. You might ask to see the leaking part. They might possibly tell you that your master cylinder needs replaced since the pedal went to the floor (I think I read that once somewhere). That's bull. I've has several autos that had the pedal go to the floor and I've never had a master cylinder go bad on me.

You will have to have the part replaced that is leaking (of course) and the system will have to be bled to get the air out (there is air in there now, that's why the pedal feels like that).

This vehicle is now unsafe to drive. Hopefully it is parked where it can be fixed.

 
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12-24-02, 07:29 AM   #3  
Joe_F
Excellent advice from Jason. Right on the money. Bravo.

One addition: If the friction (pads and shoes) are worn out, it may cause the wheel cylinders (in the back) to extend past their limits, which will cause it to leak, soaking the friction.

I suggest that the brake system be gone through COMPLETELY by a professional to restore it back to proper condition. Don't gamble, brakes are highly important.

 
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12-24-02, 07:40 AM   #4  
Joe! Your signature shortened! lol

I started scrolling like crazy and your post just zipped by.

And thanks for the bravo.

Good call on the wheel cylinders too.

 
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12-24-02, 07:45 AM   #5  
Joe_F
Jason:

Not by my choice . By the choice of the forum. Which can only mean one thing.

Less typing more, "You must check the Basics below first", repeated by "You must check the Basics below first", repeated by you got it .

Happy Holidays

 
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12-24-02, 07:45 AM   #6  
winkmccarthy
Gentlemen-- Thanks so much for the reply. I will have a complete check up done on the breaks as soon as possible. One last questoh, though, how much $$ are we talkin'?!!! A ballpark range would be great! Also, Joe-- I posted a while back re: heater core. I took your advice and it worked. It was the thermostat vs. heater core that someone quoted $600 bucks for, but it ended up costing me $120 total. Thanks a million!!!!!

 
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12-24-02, 07:49 AM   #7  
Joe_F
No problem, glad it worked.

Tough to say what the cost would be as we don't know what the problem is.

Figure the worst: All new friction, hardware in the rear, master cylinder, bleed the system and two new wheel cylinders out back.

I'd hazard a guess of about 500-600 bucks if that's what we're up against? It's probably four to five hours labor, plus parts to do it all.

Sometimes it's tough for me to estimate cost for others as I pay wholesale for the parts and do the work myself .

 
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12-24-02, 08:01 AM   #8  
Happy hollidays to you and all!

**falls to floor**

Man, I'm glad I do my own work. $500?

I think I want a new job.

Although it's not really that bad considering the importance of the brakes!
(Whoops... I just noticed that his is a Mazda..... $500 is a bargain!)

My brother in law had a Nissan stanza ('87 mind you) that needed a new exhaust system from the manifold back. It was several hundred for the parts alone. (The car was noisy as heck all the while they owned it too)

 
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12-24-02, 08:10 AM   #9  
Joe_F
Welcome to the world of old Japanese cars, Jason .

Figure it out:

A rebuilt master is probably 75 bucks or so, shoes, pads and hardware, maybe another 75, that's 150. Then another 20 each or so for wheel cylinders, is 200.

200 in parts is a guess thus far. It's probably 4-5 hours labor, at 50 bucks an hour (that's cheap nowadays too), is another 250 to 300, plus tax, and it's probably a 400 to 500 dollar bill.

That's assuming the rotors and drums are OK. Again, we do not know the extent of the problem at hand here.

Yes, doing it yourself saves money but brakes are not the thing to learn on without proper tutelage .

I would hazard a guess that my 84 Oldsmobile would cost half of that in parts as the parts are more common and reasonably priced. In fact, most parts are. That's why I still drive it. LOL.

 
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12-24-02, 08:15 AM   #10  
Originally posted by Joe_F

Yes, doing it yourself saves money but brakes are not the thing to learn on without proper tutelage .
Absolutely!

 
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12-25-02, 02:45 PM   #11  
Joe_F
Remember that your life (or mine if you crash into me) could depend on your brakes.

Never gamble with your life. Cars are cheap. Life "ain't".

 
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