Brakes dont work good

I have a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass. It has been my everyday driver since 1995.
The brakes have gone out (pedal to floor with no braking action) three times in the years that I have owned it.
All times before now, the issue has been a bad master cylinder.

This time, I had the same tell tale signs of a bad master cylinder, but before I could get to that a line blew out.

So I went to a shop that replaced the line, but the brakes worked extremely poor afterward.

I replaced the master cylinder, but that did not help at all. The pedal goes to the floor with very little braking action.

At about the same time, the engine has developed a miss. The sparkplugs show no signs of not firing.

Could the power booster be an issue? I assumed it was working correctly because the pedal was easy to push down.

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On a 1970 it is quite possible ALL the brake lines and hoses need to be replaced. Along with each cylinder and the drums need to be examined.

The ignition system is most likely a separate issue. Depending on your funds you might consider upgrading to an electronic system.

For future reference please include engine, transmission, and mileage.


I lost front brakes on my 1971 Chevelle twice. Both from old and tired wheel cylinders with about 150,000 miles on the clock. I should have replaced both cylinders after the first went, but cheaped out. The second went a few weeks later.


Time for a full safety inspection by a reputable mechanic. If too many things are waiting to go out it might be time for another car.

Not going to replace the car.
Looking for alternatives to hydraulic brakes.

The parts all check out, they just dont work together.

Not to mention that this has happened about every 10 years for 30 and I am sick of it.

Not going to replace the ignition system with modern junk that is easilly disabled.

It has a TH350 transmission and a 350 CID Rocket engine with a 500 CFM 2bbl carburetor.

The thing is a tank, except for these crappy hydraulic brakes. The emergency cable brake works fine, in fact better than the hydraulic system.

Can I make some sort of way for it to also actuate the front brakes as well?
The ratchet mechanism as long been done away with, and the e-brake pedal works like the hydraulic pedal should.

I would be happy with cable operated brakes.
Anything is better than hydraulic, that work one minute and then not at all the next, then cant seem to be fixed.

Right now the pedal goes to the floor, and it feels as if only the rear brakes are working, just like when I use the e-brake- which is all the time now.

Ford was the last manufacturer to convert from mechanical brakes to a hydraulic brake system, and–IIRC–they made that change in 1939.

I’m not really sure how you could convert your hydraulic brake system to a system that hasn’t been used for ~8 decades, and I tend to doubt if you could find a mechanic that would do it for you.

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You can’t be serious .

You just need a good Brake shop .
I can assure you if you replace the ignition system with a modern electronic system you will wonder why you did not do that sooner .
Are you really asking if you can use your Parking brake pedal to actuate the front and rear brakes ? I hope you are joking because that is nuts .


Yes, I really hope that he is joking.
But, then again, I originally thought that he was joking about using a 50 year old vehicle as a daily driver.
I have been wrong before…

This may make you chuckle, but I’m using my '62 Caddy as a daily driver.


It is not a joke.
Modern cars are junk.
20, 30, 40 miles to the gallon? Great. Good luck surviving an accident, wrapped in plastic and pot metal.

Try no car payments for 30 years. Less than $200 maintenance annually (generous average).
Insurance of less than $100 every 6 months.

The ignition has been just fine for 200,000 miles. No way am I going to change that.

In fact, I knew a guy that had two, a '68 and a '69, and he changed one to electronic and said he wished he never had done so.

Every modern car I see can have over $1000 damage from a shopping cart in a parking lot.

The only unreliable part on the vehicle is the hydraulic part of the brakes. The whole rig has been replaced multipke times, and has failed once again.

The e-brake still works great after 50 years and almost no adjustments.

Common sense should be that the system that has functioned trouble free for 50 years is definitely much more safe and sane than trying to repair a setup that has failed catastrophically multiple times in less than 30.

I dont know about you, but I would much rather have a cable brake that actuates all four wheels, or even air brakes, than a problematic, difficult, failure without warning, hydraulic system that hardly functions at all, and sometimes not at all.

Perhaps, like in most things, Ford screwed up. I had a Ford once. (1963 Galaxie 500 XL convertible) It was a vehicular Vietnam. It was an unwinnable battle to keep it on the road, unless it was on the back of a truck. Ford has definitely earned all the names that the letters in the moniker stand for.

GM screwed up too.
They kept making the cars we all made fun of, and ditched the ones that were actually worth having.

As for ‘just take it to the shop’, well, that is why I work on it myself. Every time I go to ‘the shop’ I wind up paying for nothing, as the issue never gets fixed, and ehstever work that does get done I must redo myself for it to be done right.

It actually started with this very car, back when the carburetor was giving me a fit. I took it in, and the guy there said that it needed a new carb and that it would be two weeks and $400.

I told him to stop work. Not knowing anything more than the fact that a better carb than stock could be had for half that and be delivered overnight, I went and got my car back.

I learned how to rebuild a two bbl carburetor, and the same carb that ‘needs to be replaced’ is still on the vehicle 25+ years later.

So, I am hoping to find a fail safe braking system of some sort, because even if the hydraulic junk can be repaired, I will never trust it again. It took almost a year for the nightmares to stop the last time they quit working. Whoever thought of hydraulic brakes needs to be forced to drive a car with failing hydraulic brakes down a very steep incline, while someone with working cable brakes taunts them.

You really are out of touch with the way modern vehicles can let passengers survive a crash that would have been catastrophic years ago . Have you even driven a decent modern vehicle ?


Some folks scrimp and save their whole lives so they can retire. And then die soon after. I assume you have money? And there are no cars from the 80’s or 90’s that interest you? Sounds like el Ray garage to me.

You could not be more wrong:

Over and above that exaggerated number, I guess you haven’t yet figured out that the design of modern cars allows the car’s structure to absorb impact forces so as to reduce impact forces on the passengers.

Since your vehicle of choice is a 1970 model, let’s compare the highway fatality rate per 100,000 people for that year with the fatality rate for 2018:

1970=25.67 highway fatalities per 100k
2018=11.18 highway fatalities per 100k

You couldn’t possibly be more wrong.



You are MUCH more likely to survive a crash in a modern car. MUCH!


Really terrible screen name , lots of Goofy ideas and terribly uniformed makes me think Troll.


I’m not even going to try to respond to his nonsense.

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In retrospect, I now regret my attempt at educating him. That represents 10 minutes of my life that I will never be able to regain.

Again, in retrospect, I think you are correct about him being a troll.

I recall that Fred Flintstone had fairly good brakes with a hole in the floor using his bare feet to stop.



I’ve heard many ridiculous things this week.

The customer who told me that her check engine light couldn’t be caused by a transmission problem because she doesn’t feel any problems.

The customer who was at the door at 7:45am the morning after fixing his A/C complaining that it’s set at 67 degrees but blowing warm air. It was 55 degrees outside.

The customer who wanted her clutch adjusted and inspected for free and couldn’t understand why there was a clutch problem when she just had all that replaced 10 years ago.

But none of that is as silly as some of the things being said by @puppykicker. Good job of keeping us entertained.

Cable operated brakes have gone the way of kerosene stoves and hand pump wells. Why not get rid of that pesky electric starter and install a hand crank to start the engine?


whoa . . .

Hydraulic brakes are definitely considered a major step forward, versus what was available before

You need a very good and patient shop to sort out this car . . . it could be there awhile and cost you a good amount of money

That’s what I would do, if I had sentimental value for this and intended to keep driving it