The Brakes (oh no, not again!) - May 2001
My most recent adventure has been, again, underneath and
in the car fixing the brakes. I discovered quite some time ago
that I was losing brake fluid but couldn't pinpoint the exact
cause or point of leakage, and it was only occasional too. After
discussion with a mechanic I suspected the rear brake pistons
so had a local garage renew the pistons and look for any leakage.
The report was of no leakage anywhere and I was sent away with a
bill and a message of 'good luck!'.
The brake fluid was still leaking, except now continuously
(but slowly) and from the rear brake portion of the reservoir.
While parked in the car park at my place of work I
noticed rather a large patch of very fresh liquid under my car,
and drips dripping from the central area underneath and next to
the drivers feet, from the smell I could tell it was brake fluid.
The puzzling thing was that the
master cylinder, as was reported by the garage, was completely dry.
It occurred to me to look under the foot rest plate behind the
pedals, and behold! A little lake of brake fluid which could only
have leaked from one source - the master cylinder. It had leaked
directly into the car via the brake pedal pushrod.
I ordered a replacement and endeavoured to save myself some
money by fitting it myself, with the help of my father of course.
I was a little concerned when I noticed that the new one had only
one connector for the brake light pressure switch, whereas the old
one had two. Further investigation in the workshop manual revealed
that there was such a thing as a brake failure warning light, but
this was only half there on my car - i.e. pressure switch and
connector but no dashboard light. The surplus connector was covered with
tape and left dangling out of harms' way.
Removal of the old master cylinder was a case of lots of sweating,
grunting and bashed knuckles, but eventually it was retrieved, like
a treasure from the Titanic it had rust growing on it which gave it
an almost life-like form.
The new one was fitted, but only after one slight problem was overcome -
the reservoir is connected to the master cylinder via two rigid metal
tubes, at either end of which are rubber hoses that connect to the
reservoir and master cylinder. The ones at the master cylinder
end were old and weathered, and unfortunately one had split.
What could we do? We needed to get hold of a replacement tube but this was
Sunday afternoon, where is open on a Sunday afternoon? Well most
places, luckily. We tried some cheap hose from an autocenter,
but after much heating up and forcing it was clear it wouldn't do.
A visit to our favourite MOT centre in Scarborough supplied two
replacement hoses of exactly the right size and material which
slipped on with no trouble at all. Job done! The pipes were
reconnected and bolts tightened. The bleeding could now begin.
The bleeding was quite a lengthy process but went without any real
hitches, apart from the time that we realised the hand brake was on,
and even after that the rear brakes refused to activate without a lot
of bleeding. We also topped up the master cylinder, no doubt an
essential part of the process but another that we made up as we
Now I feel confident in my brakes, no fluid has leaked recently
and the pressure is good. Probably needs another bleed sometime but
that can wait for another day.