Buick loses brakes, steering


My daughter started the 1998 Buick Regal in a driveway. When she released the parking brake to back out of the driveway, she applied the brakes. They failed. She used the parking brake, which did work. She then tried to move the car forward and it would not go forward. Steering was also quite hard. She says that the engine was running. She started and shut off the engine several times. After a few attempts, the car ran fine again. I drove it around the neighborhood without any problems. I checked the brake fluid resevoir and it is full. The brakes do not feel spongy. Any ideas? BTW, she drove it today without issue.


Does this car have hydroboost?

Hydroboost is a system that uses the power steering pump to power the brake booster and provide power to the steering.

If it did have hydroboost I would check the fluid level and the belt tension. The pulley shaft has been known to break on this system.


I’d like to add that the Hydroboost system uses a hydraulic brake booster instead of the vacuum-assisted system. Hydroboost is easy to recognize with a much smaller block-style booster with two hoses connected to it, instead of the big bulb-ous booster with one hose. The Hydroboost system uses the same pump as the power steering unit, and failure of power steering and power brakes would point to the pump.

However, if everything is running fine now, it could be the system had air in it from sitting too long, and just needed to be purged. I don’t know how best to purge the hydroboost brake system. But the power steering system, you should turn the steering wheel from lock right to lock left at least three times to purge all the air out. Also, check the power steering fluid level.


Thanks for the suggestions. I’m on my way to chek the brakes and power steering now.


The car has a vacuum boost for the brakes, not hydraulic. I tried pumping the brake pedal before starting the car. It gradually became harder to depress. After starting the car with my foot on the brake it depressed slightly, as it should. I pumped the brake while running and it worked the same each time. As for the steering, I turned it lock-to-lock three times. Steering effort was hardest the first time and equally easy on the second two cycles. I guess that I could check the power steering fluid level but that requires disconnecting the ECM and removing the air cleaner box. I would have done it, but the steering seems to work well.

There was a hissing noise when I stopped the engine coming from the area near the vacuum assist for the brakes. It stopped after several seconds. Is that normal?