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Old 10-13-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
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Brake problems


1985 Ford E-150 van. Brake pedal suddenly has to be pumped. Discolored fluid in front half. Can find no leaks. But have to add brake fluid weekly. Master cylinder not real old. Bad master cylinder?

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Old 10-13-2009, 05:10 PM   #2
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Brake problems


If you have to add brake fluid you have a leak. The front half of the master cylinder usually feeds the rear brakes. You will have to trace the lines all the way back to the wheel cylinders. One you find the leak I suggest replacing the complete line and not splice a piece in.

edit: Do not forget to look at the firewall of the engine compartment. If it is leaking there it is the master cylinder.

Discolored fluid is usually from moister getting into the system.

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Old 10-13-2009, 07:55 PM   #3
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Brake problems


Could be a number of things. Usually when you have to pump the brake pedal it means there is air in the system. Usually the only way to have air in the system is because of a leak. Be sure to check all the lines very good, rusted lines can not only leak, but suddenly burst if they are too rusted. Also consider the rear wheel cylinders, they could be leaking. Usually if they are leaking you will see fluid on the back sides of the tires and around the drum. Your rear brakes could be out of adjustment. Try going in reverse and applying the brakes several times. Sometimes on older drum brake vehicles this will adjust them out a little.

Most of the times when a master cylinder goes bad it will give a soft pedal that no amount of pumping will correct. If you are able to pump it up and get a stiff pedal, its likley there is another problem, but not always.

Keep a good eye on that fluid level. Mark it with a Sharpie so if its leaking even a little, you will know.

Good luck.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
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Brake problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenknee View Post
If you have to add brake fluid you have a leak. The front half of the master cylinder usually feeds the rear brakes. You will have to trace the lines all the way back to the wheel cylinders. One you find the leak I suggest replacing the complete line and not splice a piece in.

edit: Do not forget to look at the firewall of the engine compartment. If it is leaking there it is the master cylinder.

Discolored fluid is usually from moisture getting into the system.
Good advice from Brokenknee.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:14 AM   #5
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Brake problems


It could be the rear seal of the master cylinder leaking fluid into the brake booster. If you don't see any other evidence of a leak, pull off the master cylinder and look inside the booster.
If this is the case, you may also want to replace the booster.
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