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'97 Corolla brakes dragging...bleed 'em?

I noticed that my car was stopping itself at low speeds. Both front calipers were hot, brakes weren’t pulling. I was thinking master cylinder but I saw a friend and he said the same thing happened to him, and you guys suggested he bleed the brake system, which worked. My nephew happens to be in town, so he’s gonna help me bleed the bloody thing. Sound like a plan?

Could you please explain “the brakes were not pulling”?

Sorry I wasn’t clear; When braking, it wasn’t pulling to one side like if a caliper was frozen.

Both sides maybe hanging up so the drag could feel even. Flushing brake fluid may clear out a tiny bit of crud in lines but it wont fix any issues due to corrosion from moisture. You may have seized caliper pistons or wheel cylinders if you have drum brakes. You also may have swollen rubber brake lines which can also affect brake release functions.

Cavell "You may have seized caliper pistons or wheel cylinders if you have drum brakes"
Drums were barely warm, both front rotors were hotter than I thought they should have been…

I had this problem a few months ago. The fix was to replace both front rubber brake hoses. When they age…the interior collapses and holds in brake pressure. Sometimes…it will be so bad that the wheels will lock up.

Jacking up car and spinning each wheel is easy enough. The fronts can be a little misleading since you will get drag from cv shaft spinning. But a savvy tech can judge the feel. The rear drums should spin easy with a bit of scrape sound from shoes. Sometimes they make no sound

Greasing the caliper pins or replacing the rubber lines will more than likely fix it. Use brake grease on the caliper pins. It is made for high temps. Is your brake pedal returning after you push it?

Knfenimore stole my line…and may have nailed it. You need to check several things. First I would look at the Caliper Pins to be sure they are not dry of grease and or rusted. They need to be greased so they can SLIDE. This is most likely the problem esp if it has happened to both at the same time. CHECK THIS ASAP. The other causes of binding are the Pads themselves in their slots…and or the caliper piston itself. I would look at those caliper slide pins FIRST AND FOREMOST. VERY COMMON Problemo…


I’ll bet that if you look at the pads you’ll find them worn very unevenly. That’s a sure sign of sticking calipers. If these are the original ‘97 calipers, I’d change ‘em. I’d change the flex lines too while I was at it, seein’ as how they’re gettin’ old.

knfenimore “Is your brake pedal returning after you push it?”
DOH! Omitted crucial info, sorry…BRAKE PEDAL IS HIGH!

Starting to point to the hoses. I think this may have been sneaking up on me, pedal has seemed a little touchy for a while, but the car was still rolling OK.

The other ideas posted above are definitely worth considering, but it remains possible your original idea of bleeding the brakes might work. Don’t discount that as a solution. And a master cylinder can cause this too. Brake fluid contamination problems especially. If this problem occurred on my Corolla the first thing I’d do is - without disassembling anything – just remove the wheels for a look-see at the calipers and pads, looking for corrosion, gunk, accumulating brake dust, etc. Then visually inspect the flexible hoses attaching to the calipers. And take a look at the brake fluid in the master cylinder, make sure it is at the appropriate level, and isn’t contaminated w/gunk. That’s all fairly easy to do and you might be able to spot the problem just doing that. If the hoses look funky, for safety sake good idea to replace those even if that’s not what’s causing the problem.

Edit: When looking at the pads, be sure to verify both sides (inner vs outer) are wearing at about the same rate. If not, that’s indicative of something sticking in the caliper.

I got it up on stands and it seems the right side is bound up a bit more than the left side, so I figured I would replace the right hose, bleed that side and see if there was any improvement. Then, carrying on a time-honored tradition, I broke off the bleed screw! &%#$@**&!!!

If it’s not related to caliper slides or what have you it could be due to aged brake fluid which can have a tendency to expand more than normal due to the lowered boiling point and so on.

Still going with un-greased caliper pins.

" Then, carrying on a time-honored tradition, I broke off the bleed screw! &%#$@**&!!!"

Join the club. You probably need a new caliper anyway.

I’m going with master cylinder. The likelyhood that both calipers would be sticking the similarly and at the same time is low. Usually one caliper will stick all by itself but not both fronts at the same time. My old Datsun 510 did this. Both fronts dragged, rear drums cool. Master cylinder fixed it.

Mustangman "I’m going with master cylinder."
I may try bleeding the system first, just to see what happens. I broke a caliper bleed screw so I can’t bleed that one, but have a parts car ('97 Prizm.) After sitting for years, will those parts still be useable, or likely to be seized up or corroded? I saw the caliper rebuild kits are pretty cheap…or do I just bite the bullet and get new caliper and master cylinder?

Was just thinking, I could probably just bleed the master cylinder on the car and see what that does…