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2004 neon overheating front brakes

I’m in the middle of a brake system teardown on a 04 dodge neon with 125k miles on it, and had a couple questions.

background: I noticed after driving a bit I would get some pretty severe pedal pulsing when braking, and when it got REALLY bad the steering would shake a little at highway speeds. It usually was OK when cold (eg first couple miles) and wouldnt always do it. braking seemed reduced a little.

I just replaced the front calipers, rotors and pads. Im in the process of replacing the back shoes and drums. already a marked improvement in braking and smoothness.

I noticed the outside of the rotors looked normal. the insides had significant spots that were pitted and rough.

The old brake pads had small cracks in them, and according to the sample pics on the box the new pads came in indicates overheating issues.

whats the best way to figure out the cause if the rears arent engaging enough?

also when removing the rear pads, is it normal for fluid to ooze/squirt out around the rubber covers over the ends of the cylinder if you overtravel the piston one way or the other as you try to remove one side of the shoes?

As cheap as they are, is it a bad idea to go ahead and replace the rear cylinders as well? I think it would cost me an extra $25 a set.

For the rear cylinders, yes, if you push one side out too far, they’ll leak. That’s pretty normal. They’re just two pistons in a tube - think of two spitballs in a straw. you push one in, the other will pop out. Same principle. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, however, once they’ve popped, go ahead and make sure everything’s clean. Don’t clean them with anything other than brake fluid (and some extra fine steel wool, if required). Be careful of the rubber seals. Put them together carefully, and ensure the boots are back on properly. Reassemble the system, and then bleed the rears.

If the rear brakes aren’t engaging enough…well, first, I guess you have to define enough. They’re drum brakes, and they don’t do a lot of work, anyway. Once you put them together, you should be able to go in reverse (just at idle), and pump the brakes to adjust them. You should hear (if you listen carefully) them click when you push the brake pedal.

They may also be adjusted using the hand brake. Hold the button, and lift/drop the handle several times. Again, you should be able to hear them click faintly. That’s the self adjuster … adjusting.

Don’t try to manually adjust them tighter. They’ll be fine after the automatic procedure.

If they weren’t leaking or sticking before, they most likely don’t need replacing now.

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Ensure you know what you’re doing with the brakes. IMHO they’re the most important feature of the running of a car. It doesn’t matter how fast you can go, how quickly you can get there, or how sharp you can turn if you can’t stop safely and efficiently every time. If you haven’t done lots of them, and are positive you know what you’re doing, get a manual, and read it.
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Good luck, in any event,