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Old 02-25-2019, 04:56 PM   #1
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Soft Brake Pedal

My brake pedal has seemed to be soft through about 1/2 of the stroke required to halt the pedal travel. It stops okay but it just doesn't seem right. I feel the brakes probably need bleed (air in system) but there are so many bleeders in the brake system I don't know where to start. The right front caliper was replaced just before I bought it. Also I now have the ABS light burning this did not affect the brakes any differently when it decided to stay one.

Is soft pedal normal on the newer/larger chassis mine is a 24/26000 version?
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Old 02-25-2019, 05:22 PM   #2
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A soft brake pedal is most likely air in the lines somewhere and is not normal. The ABS light on is also an indication of air in the system. A recently replaced caliper is another indication of air in the system. You need to have the system bled.

There are other possibilities but air is the most likely and also the cheapest to remedy.

I have always been told to look for your most recent problem to be somewhere near your most recent repair action.
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Old 02-25-2019, 05:34 PM   #3
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I would look where the did the work, making sure the bleader is on top. The wrong caliper will have it on the bottom. You can not get the air out from the bottom.

I would also check for loose wheel bearings. When the wheels roll, a loose bearing can cause the rotor to push the calipers in. That leaves some pedal travel to get them close to the rotors again.

A loose bearing can also set the ABS light. The space between the sensor and pickup ring can change.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:24 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies, I have bleed brakes on a lot of vehicles in my younger years. The group of bleeders near the master cylinder and booster have me buffaloed. How bad can I screw things up by trying the wheel bleeders only?
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Old 02-27-2019, 09:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brockx View Post
Thanks for the replies, I have bleed brakes on a lot of vehicles in my younger years. The group of bleeders near the master cylinder and booster have me buffaloed. How bad can I screw things up by trying the wheel bleeders only?
Nothing should screw up.

After caliper replacement, that's where the air would be and that's where I bleed it out.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:36 AM   #6
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I bleed the brakes last week-end and now have a good pedal. The passenger front had some air, but the driver side front had a considerable amount of air. However; I think I may have screwed up big time. The make-up fluid I added was DOT 4. After I had added the fluid I found and realized Ford specs (owner manual) called for a Ford product, Super DOT 4. I searched for the Ford product and found it was no longer used or available. The Newer F53's with the Hydramax system call for DOT 5.1. My first instinct was to arrange a full bleed and refill. However; I have seen some "chatter" online of claims that Dot3,4,5.1 are compatible mixes, with some concern that the boiling points would be less. Thoughts appreciated.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:56 AM   #7
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All but DOT 5 are compatable.

Use the 5.1 for the higher boiling point.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:09 AM   #8
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Thanks knew I would hear from you

Can you steer me to a reference on that so I can sleep tonight.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:27 AM   #9
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Brockx;

if you havn't done so yet, you might consider installing SpeedBleeders. I put these on my Southwind last year when I changed out all the brake hoses. WOW, made the bleeding job a lot easier.

Read down near the bottom of the article:

F53 Replacing Brake Hoses – 1999 Southwind 35S


..
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:13 AM   #10
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x2 on speedbleeders! can bleed my whole f53 in a few hours by myself! (going slow)
while dot 3/4/5.1 are compatible if spec calls for super dot 4 and its not available, then only dot 5.1 meets spec
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:37 AM   #11
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Brockx,

What Waiter21 & gator8 were referring to is somewhat of a recent procedure change in bleeding brake systems.

Besides what I did while growing up my automotive teaching career started in 1971. For the next 20 plus years nobody ever spoke of brake fluid flush as a standard (regular) service procedure. We usually bled brake systems during regular brake service around 30,000 or 40,000 miles for front disc and 60,000 to 70,000 for rear drums. In addition we didn't really work at flushing all the dirty old brake fluid out. Yes, how much bleeding was done was dependent on how extensive the brake repair.

I retired from teaching in 2006. Since that time complete brake fluid flushes are now recommended on a schedule of every 3 to 4 or 4 to 5 years. I don't know if the service industry has settled on an exact time frame.

Some have said just another useless service to pay for. Kind of like an oil change every 5 or 7,000 miles. I'm in favor of the service procedure for these reasons.

The brake fluid is the only fluid that is never filtered and it never circulates. It absorbs water very easily which ends up causing internal rust. And it is very caustic and corrosive to rubber. The rubber flexible brake lines corrode internally.

I LOVE the speed bleeders and were a great addition. They sure make the idea of flushing the system every 3 to 4 years something to look forward to instead of dreading. Replace your stock bleeders, bleed the system and leave them in place until the next time.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:50 AM   #12
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If you do the bleeding, you may note that it seems like its taking a long time to get fresh fluid to flow out the front calipers.

The anti lock brake pump is located (on my 1999) on the drivers side frame rail about midway between the front and rear wheels. This means when you bleed the front brakes, the fluid needs to travel all the way back to the pump, then all the way back to the front before getting to the calipers. On mine, it took about the same amount of fluid and time to bleed the fronts as it did the rears.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:32 AM   #13
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When I flushed my 1999 brakes for the first time in however many years, I used about a gallon of fluid when all was said and done.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:36 AM   #14
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Thanks to all for the follow up info. When I was a kid at 14 I was working Saturdays and after school at the local Gas station \ Garage. Lots of brake jobs usually leaking wheel cylinders, as stated above I also don't recall ever doing a fluid purge.
Looks like the smart money is a total purge using DOT 5.1. I was worried about the ABS system (there are several bleeders in that area) but it sounds like a master cylinder to wheel flush takes care of the ABS.

Losing brakes at a red light is a scary thought. Some of my concerns were centered on lack of information. My owner manual does not even address my 2008 24K-26K chassis but does require the 20.5k/22k to use Super DOT 4. Searching newer model manuals I did find the 24/26 to use the Super 4, with a warning not using would cause failure.
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