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Brake fluid light

I own a 2001 Mazda Tribute. Recently, my brake fluid light came on and I took it down to the mechanic to have it checked out. They told me that there was a slow leak in the master cylinder and that it needed to be replaced, fluids flushed, etc. and the total bill would come to about 600.00. The car is only worth about 2,000.00 and I don’t know whether it would be a good idea to put that much money into the car. My question is, would it be ok to keep a close check on the brake fluid to make sure that it remains full and not have the master cylinder replaced? I see no fluids on the garage floor. Thanks, Rhonda


Sorry, but this is the SINGLE most important safety feature on this car. Do not ‘cheap’ out on the brakes. If the master cylinder is leaking, get it replaced. If it fails, YOU HAVE NO BRAKES!!! A leak indicates that the rubber seals and pressure cups are going bad, and need to be replaced. If you feel the cost is too high, get a second opinion at another shop. But, please, for the people around you and yourself and kids, get this fixed right!

A known problem in the braking system is too important to ignore. Get a second opinion if you wish, but get the brakes fixed. Soon! You can’t gamble with the brakes.

You can be cheap and gamble with your life, that’s your right. However, you have no right to be cheap and gamble with my life. Get it fixed now, or don’t drive it. It’s as simple as that.

Imagine having to deal with the guilt of killing a child because you decided to NOT get your brakes repaired.

Even if money is tight, this is not something that you can afford to “cheap out” on, simply because a slow leak can become a situation of total master cylinder failure without warning. Do you really want to risk killing people because you chose to avoid repairing the most important safety system on your car?

When the master cylinder failed on my old Buick the only warning I got was the brake pedal going to the floor as I rolled through a stop sign. Fortunately nobody else was in the intersection, you may not be so lucky.

When I have to spend money on my 2000 Blazer, I think of it in terms of car payments. $600 is about 2 car payments, if you get 3 months out of the Tribute, you’re still ahead.

Ed B.

Now your car is a worthless deathtrap with defective brakes.

Take $600 and turn it into a much safer car worth $2,000

That’s an over 300% return on your investment, not counting your increased life expectancy. To may that is a no-brainer.

As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a “brake fluid light” There is a brake warning light, which indicates a problem with the braking system—it does not necessarily mean you are leaking brake fluid—it comes on when there is a pressure imbalance in the system due to a bad master cylinder or a problem with the front or rear brake systems.

Ask yourself this: Would you enjoy coming up on an intersection at say, 50 MPH and suddenly discovering you had no brakes? What if a kid on a bike rode out in front of your car?

I think if you shop around, you can find a better deal than $600, but I’d definitely have it fixed asap!

Not all brake warning lights work this way. Many now are triggered only by a fluid level float switch in the brake fluid reservoir. I had a 1973 car that worked the way you describe, but my 2004 and 2006 both just have low brake fluid level switches.