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96 Geo Prizm brake problems

What started as a simple front brake job has given me a huge headache. I changed the pads, and the brakes seemed ok until we started noticing they would sometimes lock up and make the car slide and squeal. I took the wheels off, looked over everything, and saw nothing. My parts store suggested that I change the hoses. Did that. Car was running fine for abit then it went back to locking and sliding if I had to make even semi fast stop. Took the wheels off again. Looked much closer this time and saw that the dust boot on the drivers side caliper was torn. I removed the boot and clip and put new ones on. I did not,however, remove the piston. Put it all back together. Still same problem. Take wheels off again. This time I noticed fluid leaking from the passenger caliper. The threading at the banjo bolt for the brake line was stripped. Got a pair of used calipers and replaced both. Car acted fine…for awhile. Now it is back to slipping and sliding if I have to brake fast. It does fine as long as I have time to slowing apply the brakes, but there are surely gonnna be sometimes in life when I need the brakes the work when I slam them on and not just send me sliding into traffic or a person. It is a 96 geo prizm and does not have abs, but I know for sure it would stop on a dime a year ago. Help??

What exactly is “slipping and sliding” if you have to brake fast? The whole car? That has nothing to do with the brakes. Its got to do with a) a driver going to fast for conditions, and b) tires - perhaps coupled with road conditions. So if you’re saying that you’re skidding then your problem probably isn’t with the brakes.

You would have had to have bled the brakes. Perhaps you used to have air in the lines & a soft pedal and you just have to get used to a firmer pedal from having bled them? Either that or you need to clear up what you are describing.

Or are you saying that you hit the brakes but don’t really get much braking power out of them? If that’s true, then you don’t drive it anymore until it is fixed. If the pedal is really hard to push down & you can’t get enough pressure on it you look at the brake booster. If the pedal gets really soft and sinks you replace the master cylinder.

Does this car have anti-lock brakes?

This car slides or skids even if Im only going 15-20mph and have to hit the brakes hard. The roads can be clear and dry and it will still do this. I can hear the front tires squeal and it feels like they slide. I bled the brakes out everythime after I did work to it. The brakes will stop the car and it does fine as long as I dont have to slam them on. It does sometime make an almost grinding noise from the driver side tire when I left off my brake pedal but it doesnt do it all the time.

That’s just called braking too hard. And I will guess that you used to have air in your lines, so there’s some part of your brain that still thinks the pedal is as soft as it used to be.

And take a close look at those tires.

If you think there is something more going on maybe just have a good local mechanic take if for a quicktest drive.

What brand/model brake pad did you use?

Well the calipers certainly seem suspect, Look at the vacuum booster line for the brakes. My guess is it needs replacement, either that or a new master cylinder or new calipers. Online is hard to properly diagnose!

If your brakes are locking with just normal pressure being applied, then I would suspect the vacuum booster was over-boosting the brakes…Disconnect and plug its vacuum line to the booster and CAREFULLY test-drive the car…(there will be no power brakes) Does that cure the brake locking??

If the problem started after a pad change, maybe the calipers and the slide pins are a problem. I am not sure of the quality of the used calipers you used. When the wheels lock, get out and see which wheel is hot and which one does not spin if you jack the car up.

I rebuilt the master cylinder and the brakes seem much better now. Except…when I bled the brakes I got a bunch of old dark fluid out (which I expected) but when I bled the rear driver brake I saw what look like white foam come out of the line. Should I be worried? Also, different system, same car, she is now giving me problems starting. I can turn the key and all the lights come on but the engine doesnt turn over. No grinding or wierd noise, it just clicks and doesnt turn over. I have to try turning the key a few times then it will finally turn over and start up. I was thinking the starter is faulty, but a friend said it would make a noise if it was the starter.

This is a common problem for high mileage Toyota starters. You turn the key but get only a click from the starter. The second or third turn of the key will get a crank and start. What happens on high mileage Toyota starters is that the contacts in the starter solenoid get worn enough that the contactor disc will not make contact with both fixed contacts.

The cheap fix is to remove the starter; take the cover off the solenoid; and replace the fixed contacts – the disk usually is still useable. You can get the fixed contacts at an auto electric shop or from the Toyota dealer parts department. The more expensive fix is to replace the starter.

Hope this helps.

My starter finally gave up the fight and decided to die. I replaced it with a rebuilt but it makes a horrible noise now when I start my car. Does the new starter take while to “break in” or have I maybe done something wrong. The car runs fine and starts with no trouble. For lack of better wording, the sound it makes is like a grinding squeal if that helps.

Something is wrong with the starter. I suspect the wrong pinion gear is in that starter or something went wrong with the re-manufacturing process. It sounds like the starter pinion is out of line with the flywheel, causing it to bind slightly. This is probably the cause of the bad sounds. I would recommend taking it back out and bench-testing it to see if the sounds are internal to the starter. Either way, the starter will not last long doing this.

Front brakes skidding can be caused by the rear brakes not working at all.