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Car repair - rear brake pinches and locks


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9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted October 29 2007 - 10:40 AM

I'm guessing this is going to cost some coin to fix: I've got an old '94 Honda Civic with a rear left brake that has started to lock itself after sitting for a few days. I've noticed my brake fluid levels are going down, so I am guessing I have a leak somewhere. I fear either a brake line has a leak, or my master cylinder for the brakes needs repair/replacement. When the rear brake locks, I make sure the brake fluid levels are up to snuff, and then I usually try pumping the brakes and accelerate/power through the braked/pinched condition until the car rolls normally again. This can't be good for the car. This also happened when it was raining, and my tire just skidded for a bit since it couldn't develop enough traction to break the locked/pinched condition, and had to wait until the streets dried up a bit before getting the car rolling again. If the car has this condition, and I try backing up from a cold start, I usually get this loud pinch thud sound which feels like I hit something as I roll backwards, but it's just the pinched brake. When it first happened, I thought I ran over something and killed it. It was spooky. Any guesses as to how much this is going to cost? At least it's a second car, as I bought a relatively new car in September, fearing my old car was going to develop repair issues, like this one, and didn't want a primary car that was developing such issues.
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#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Tim Hoover

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Posted October 30 2007 - 12:28 PM

I'm not a mechanic so I can't offer specific advice, but I recently had both front brake lines replaced in my car after they each sprung a leak within about two months of each other. I think the total cost was around $80 each for the repair. FYI, I'm still driving my old '87 Mustang GT, so your Honda may cost a bit more...
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#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted October 30 2007 - 02:19 PM

It sounds like a bad master cylinder to me, but you need Steve Schaffer's help on this one.

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Scooter

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Posted October 31 2007 - 11:49 AM

If it was a bad Master Cylinder, there would more problems/symptoms than described here. If you have a shop/tech you trust...have them do a clean and adjust/diag on the rears...and see what they say. Doing that will show them what's what. Sounds like you have a bad cylinder or the shoes on that side are so worn, they simply rub against the drum.

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted October 31 2007 - 12:38 PM

Do you leave the parking brake engaged overnight?
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#6 of 10 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted October 31 2007 - 12:59 PM

I tend to agree with Scooter. If it was a bad master cylinder, I don't think the problem would be limited to the one brake. It may just be a bad caliper, which still isn't a cheap repair, since you should replace both rear calipers, and will probably need new rotors and pads.

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#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted October 31 2007 - 12:59 PM

Yes, I've left the parking brake on while it's parked, all these years. BTW, the rear brakes are of the drum variety. From what I've read elsewhere, it might be the wheel cylinder, which hopefully won't be a huge amount, and maybe a brake line leak. I guess I'll find out over the weekend when I take it in. I had a shop that I trusted, but the owner sold the shop and the new owner is a bit on the clueless side. I'll probably take it to Midas (where I had my previous brake work done, I think about 3-5 months ago after getting them done 7 years ago, so I brought it back for the free lifetime warranty on pads), and if I don't like their estimate, I'll also try the nearby dealership.
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#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted October 31 2007 - 02:39 PM

If you've got a leaky wheel cylinder on the left rear it would sorta "glue" the brake shoes to the drum while parked for several days. In my experience leaky wheel cylinders are more common than leaky brake lines, but I'm in Fresno CA where it rarely rains, never snows, and cars don't rust. Another alternative is that the return springs on that wheel's brake are broken or have fallen off, or that the parking brake cable is binding on that side. When you take it in just describe the problem to the service writer as clearly as possible and ask for a diagnosis. There shouldn't be anything about Honda drum brakes that would be beyond the capability of a decent shop to diagnose or repair, but Midas doesn't always hire the brightest bulbs.
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#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted October 31 2007 - 02:53 PM

Thanks for the armchair diagnosis, Steve! I really hope it's an inexpensive fix as I don't want to pour a lot of money into this secondary car.
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#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 04 2007 - 04:13 AM

Well, I took the car into the shop and they ended up replacing the wheel cylinder in the left rear drum brake (they checked the right rear drum brake and it was okay). It goes just a shade over $100, so at least it didn't break the bank. I'll drive it a little more this week to make sure the condition doesn't re-occur.
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