'99 F150's weak brakes

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  #1  
Old 11-26-10, 10:08 AM
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'99 F150's weak brakes

I have a '99 F150 Lariat SC, 5.4L, 2WD, disk front/drum rear. It does have a towing package but not the high GVWR option.

I have owned this truck since 2001, and it currently only has ~65K on it, so obviously it is an occasional driver - very nice condition, garaged, well-maintained.

But, this truck has always had substandard brakes, and I'm comparing that to my other vehicles and to a '99 Silverado I previously had as a company truck.

By "substandard", I mean that the brake pedal has always been pretty mushy, and although it will activate the anti-lock system and intermittently lock the wheels in an emergency situation, you always wonder whether you are going to stop in time. They just feel inadequate for the weight of the truck. Further, I frequently tow a single-axle trailer carrying a ZTR mower, total weight about 1800 lb. The brakes were so poor in that situation, that I ended up putting brakes on that small trailer to feel confident in traffic.

I've tested the booster per instructions found on 2 or 3 websites and there doesn't seem to be any problem there.

Periodically, I get fed up and try some upgrades to improve the situation. Most recently, I've replaced the front calipers, pads (Hawk - 2nd set), turned the rotors (aftermarket drilled variety), completely bled the system, turned the rear drums (original shoes have plenty of lining left), but have felt no improvement.

I've also talked to SSB (Stainless Steel Brakes Corp) about a rear-disk conversion, but they told me it would not noticeably improve braking power. Probably true, since the majority of the braking action is on the front axle.

What next? I'm suspicious of the master cylinder, but before I replace it, I am wondering whether a MC from perhaps an F250 or F350 would bolt in and provide a little more fluid pressure.

Any advice? Similar experiences? What about swapping in a MC from a heavier truck?

TIA!
Neal
 
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  #2  
Old 11-26-10, 11:03 AM
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(Quote) I mean that the brake pedal has always been pretty mushy

DOT 3 and 4 brake fluids are compatible. DOT 5 is not compatible with 3 and 4.

So which brake fluid are you running?
3 works best on your truck.
Last flush was when?
Last power bleed was when?
 
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Old 11-26-10, 06:47 PM
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Yes, I'm aware of the compatibilities. Power flush with DOT 4 was done 2 -3 months ago, at the same time as replacing the calipers, pads, etc.

Thanks,
Neal
 
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Old 11-26-10, 07:59 PM
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Have you checked with you'r local dealer about this issue?? I believe there was a service bulliten regarding a booster, Master or something,, I may be wrong, but just for goofs, Take the VIN into the dealer & ask about this issue.... Roger
 
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Old 11-26-10, 09:10 PM
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you feel your brakes are worse than 99 silverado? i have 2000 silverado, and it is all across the forums that it has sheatty brakes. they are made like this.
funny, your description of the way brakes feel is exactly what they feel like on mine. i have learned to keep very large distance from a car in front; basically, am "fill the gap" magnet to all on the freeway. they have never failed on me, but yes, i do have that eerie feeling that they won't stop when i need them. or use both feet for REAL braking power.

strange.... sorry to say, but it sounds, judging from mine, that you got some heck of poorly designed brakes. if i were you, i'd have gone to specialty forums, ford forums, and ask around. maybe it's a year, and you are dumping $$ chasing no existent ghosts.
 
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Old 11-26-10, 09:59 PM
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Try this........cut the rotors, install ceramic brake pads on the front and clean and adjust the ream drum shoes and bleed the system.
I would be surprised if you don't notice a dramatic difference in stopping power.
 
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Old 11-27-10, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by hopkinsr2 View Post
Have you checked with you'r local dealer about this issue?? I believe there was a service bulliten regarding a booster, Master or something,, I may be wrong, but just for goofs, Take the VIN into the dealer & ask about this issue.... Roger
OK, I can give that a try - I think I can check that on the web.

Thanks,
Neal
 

Last edited by sundvl76; 11-27-10 at 05:12 PM.
  #8  
Old 11-27-10, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ukrbyk View Post
you feel your brakes are worse than 99 silverado? i have 2000 silverado, and it is all across the forums that it has sheatty brakes. they are made like this.
funny, your description of the way brakes feel is exactly what they feel like on mine. i have learned to keep very large distance from a car in front; basically, am "fill the gap" magnet to all on the freeway. they have never failed on me, but yes, i do have that eerie feeling that they won't stop when i need them. or use both feet for REAL braking power.

strange.... sorry to say, but it sounds, judging from mine, that you got some heck of poorly designed brakes. if i were you, i'd have gone to specialty forums, ford forums, and ask around. maybe it's a year, and you are dumping $$ chasing no existent ghosts.
Yes, I had no problem towing light trailers with the Silverado, but the F150 is worse. Part of the reason the F150 has such low miles is that I'd use the Silver all the time and leave the Ford at home!

I've previously posted this exact question on the Ford-Trucks forum twice and had no real help there, except for the suggestion of switching to braided SS lines, which is probably a good idea.

Thanks,
Neal
 

Last edited by sundvl76; 11-27-10 at 05:09 PM.
  #9  
Old 11-27-10, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Mackey View Post
Try this........cut the rotors, install ceramic brake pads on the front and clean and adjust the ream drum shoes and bleed the system.
I would be surprised if you don't notice a dramatic difference in stopping power.
Per my original post, I have just recently (less than 1K miles) turned both drums and rotors. Rears correctly adjusted after drums turned. Hawk pads are reputed to be some of the best non-ceramic available as far as grab, but the real problem seems to be spongy pedal and low fluid pressure. I'll research the ceramic idea, however my understanding is that they are superior more for their ability to withstand constant hard braking (i.e. racing applications) than for their grab. Isn't that correct?

Thanks for the response,
Neal
 

Last edited by sundvl76; 11-27-10 at 05:10 PM.
  #10  
Old 11-27-10, 05:16 PM
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I find ceramic pads to be more effective than metallic.
I don't even consider metallic pads anymore due to the success and performance I have with ceramics but that's just me.
I'm not into racing just low maintenance, good reliability and performance.
 
  #11  
Old 11-27-10, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by sundvl76 View Post
Per my original post, I have just recently (less than 1K miles) turned both drums and rotors. Rears correctly adjusted after drums turned. Hawk pads are reputed to be some of the best non-ceramic available as far as grab, but the real problem seems to be spongy pedal and low fluid pressure. I'll research the ceramic idea, however my understanding is that they are superior more for their ability to withstand constant hard braking (i.e. racing applications) than for their grab. Isn't that correct?

Thanks for the response,
Neal
Then it could be either moisture in the fluid or bad brake hoses.
Old and weak brake hoses can cause a spongy brake pedal by a breakdown in the rubber and sucking air.
Do you still get bubbles when you bleed all of the brakes?
 
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Old 11-27-10, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by sundvl76 View Post
Yes, I had no problem towing light trailers with the Silverado, but the F150 is worse. Part of the reason the F150 has such low miles is that I'd use the Silver all the time and leave the Ford at home!

I've previously posted this exact question on the Ford-Trucks forum twice and had no real help there, except for the suggestion of switching to braided SS lines, which is probably a good idea.

Thanks,
Neal
sorry, brother. i feel your pain. honestly, i feel you are throwing money into wind. i am not even trying to improve mine, as after i learned it's a common issue, why bother. how much you spent so far? grand? two? i bet you it's underperforming boosters and the way they are made. i am no chevy fan, i have silvie only because i got it cheap and i need larger truck. otherwise, i wouldn't have even looked that way. but - and i apologize - i have even lesser opinion on fords.
maybe, instead of fighting the windmills, sell the sucker and get a better something? then again, trucks are so dirt cheap now that it's a loss which ever way you try to sell/buy.

just keep that distance, ya know....

PS caliper with multiple pistons? you have two per caliper, right? they also have electrical brake boosters, i believe. you explained it yourself - LOW HYDRAULIC PRESSURE, and that's booster job to keep it up.
 
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Old 11-27-10, 06:59 PM
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At the rear of the truck, on the left side of the diff, You will see what looks like a proportioning valve, with a lever and link, designed to hold off pressure to the rear brakes in "NON-PANIC STOP" situations when the body tends to lift in the rear. MAke sure the link is still connected , and the lever isnt binding.......Also, When bleeding, ensure ALL FOUR WHEELS are on the ground, and the vehicle weight is completely on the springs.( Either "Drive on LIFT, or crawl under it.....No JACKS permitted).
 
  #14  
Old 11-27-10, 08:30 PM
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eliminate as much guess work as you can as cheap as you can - use line locks at your flex lines and see how the pedal feels if a dramatic improvement problems lie downstream, if not look at master etc
 
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Old 11-27-10, 09:02 PM
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If you go to a MCyl with a larger bore you will have less pressure not more.
 
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Old 11-28-10, 01:34 AM
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Have you contacted your dealer yet about the TSB I mentioned??? If the caliaper slides on the front are free & the rear drum brakes are adjusted correctly this truck should stop on a dime.. There was a TSB but if you don't want to go to a dealer,, You can always try to Mickey Mouse another Master Cylinder into it & hope for the best,,,, Good Luck,, Roger
 
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Old 11-28-10, 08:05 AM
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After you’ve ruled out a defective brake booster and master cylinder adjust the "Actuator Rod" located between booster and master cylinder.
 
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Old 11-28-10, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by hopkinsr2 View Post
Have you contacted your dealer yet about the TSB I mentioned??? If the caliaper slides on the front are free & the rear drum brakes are adjusted correctly this truck should stop on a dime.. There was a TSB but if you don't want to go to a dealer,, You can always try to Mickey Mouse another Master Cylinder into it & hope for the best,,,, Good Luck,, Roger
Nope, you suggested that on Friday & I've been out of town - will swing by a dealer this week and ask about it.

Thanks,
Neal
 
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Old 11-28-10, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Unclediezel View Post
At the rear of the truck, on the left side of the diff, You will see what looks like a proportioning valve, with a lever and link, designed to hold off pressure to the rear brakes in "NON-PANIC STOP" situations when the body tends to lift in the rear. MAke sure the link is still connected , and the lever isnt binding.......Also, When bleeding, ensure ALL FOUR WHEELS are on the ground, and the vehicle weight is completely on the springs.( Either "Drive on LIFT, or crawl under it.....No JACKS permitted).
I will look at the link & lever - that's new to me, never knew there was such a thing! Thanks.

RE: bleeding, that is interesting - why does that make a difference? I have to say I started learning to work on brake systems in the early '60's and have never heard of such a rule. I'm not saying it is not valid, just wondering when this came to pass and the reasons. Maybe have to do with the ABS?

Thanks, I have a power bleeder so it doesn't take long to re-do it.

Neal
 
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Old 11-28-10, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Crusher 396 View Post
After you’ve ruled out a defective brake booster and master cylinder adjust the "Actuator Rod" located between booster and master cylinder.
Seems like that would have been set correctly at the factory, wouldn't it? (MC has never been off.) I will certainly put the gauge on it if I end up putting in a new MC.

Thanks,
Neal
 
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Old 11-28-10, 10:17 AM
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RE: bleeding, that is interesting - why does that make a difference? I have to say I started learning to work on brake systems in the early '60's and have never heard of such a rule. I'm not saying it is not valid, just wondering when this came to pass and the reasons. Maybe have to do with the ABS?
Actually, it has to do with the height sensor I described. If it is in fact equipped that way, When the bed is loaded, The weight holds the rear of the truck down, when the bed is unloaded, A hard stop will shift the weight to the front brakes, leaving the back sorta "Floating". The valve I described, varies pressure to the rear brakes, dependant upon "Height " of the body over the rear diff.
The reason for bleeding with the wheels on the ground, is simply to simulate a loaded condition, and allow full pressure to the rear of the truck. With the vehicle on a frame hoist or Jackstand, and the wheels "HANGING", pressure would be reduced to the rear wheels, making bleeding very difficult.

It isnt an official procedure, so you wont find it in any book, just something Ive picked up on over the years,And it has worked out very well.
 
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Old 11-28-10, 12:20 PM
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That's interesting unclediesil
I was in a van that was rear ended by an overloaded 1/2 ton before.
Truck had likely over a ton on it and was doing a rear squat from so much work stuff.
Fronts locked up but rears did not help that much.
That was about a 76 Chev P/U
To the OP (original poster)
I would charm someone with a truck like that one and "feel" the pedal.
The mushy part sounds suspect to me.
If it were my truck I would rig up "plugs for the ends of the brake lines and the outlet of the master. And work forward by elimination.
I mean for instance start at the master and disconnect both lines and attach 2 small brake lines on the master that have plugs on the ends.
Bleed the 2 small plugged lines and see how the pedal is.
If then you got a good pedal then go Thu the system systematically to find the source of the "mushieness"
Note. I have never done this before but often thought of it if I could not find the problem.
 
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Old 11-28-10, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by frankiee View Post
If it were my truck I would rig up "plugs for the ends of the brake lines and the outlet of the master. And work forward by elimination.
I mean for instance start at the master and disconnect both lines and attach 2 small brake lines on the master that have plugs on the ends.
Bleed the 2 small plugged lines and see how the pedal is.
If then you got a good pedal then go Thu the system systematically to find the source of the "mushieness"
Note. I have never done this before but often thought of it if I could not find the problem.
Yes, another post recommended installing line-locks to effectively eliminate the front calipers from the system, then do a test.

Seems like a reasonable procedure, however the LLs are going to run at least a c-note by the time they're in place and would only be used for the test, so I'm not sure that is the best way to do this.

More research on this upcoming!

Thanks,
Neal
 
  #24  
Old 11-28-10, 05:36 PM
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actually what I meant is to rig up a plugged line that is only 6 inches long and use it as a testing plug.
A union and a line with another union and plug should be $5 to $10
Anyhows. Good luck with it and carefull
 
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Old 11-28-10, 05:41 PM
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Not the most Orthodox Idea, but a quick test is a pair of vise grips at the rubber brake hoses. Just enough to flatten, but not enough to crush.
 
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Old 11-28-10, 09:31 PM
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When I couldnt find line clamps I welded a peice of 1/4 rod to the jaws of a small pair of vice grips.
 
  #27  
Old 11-29-10, 07:27 AM
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Thanks!

Thanks so much to all for your suggestions. I've received much more help here than on the Ford Trucks forum, so I now have several avenues to follow in attempting to solve this problem.

I'll also say I have asked questions on some of the other DIY.com forums and received good info there as well - it's a great site!

Neal
 
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