Car doesn't like the whole stopping thing

I just bought my car 2 months ago from a dealer, the dealer said they fixed a router and bled the breaks. A week after I got it, I pushed the breaks and they had no resistance on them. I did it again and they were fine, so I just thought I was nuts. Later that week it happened several more times. I had my boyfriend bring it back to the dealer and they drove it and convinced him that Ford just has speed sensing brakes and that it was normal. (Other wise known as “your girlfriend is just nuts.”)

It went away for a month so I really didn’t say too much more about it. Now every time I hit the breaks there is no resistance until I get it all the way to the floor. It will still stop, but only if it’s pushed firmly to the floor, living in Northern WI, and hitting the breaks all the way to the floor is not a very smart thing to do in the winter, so I have slid many of times because of this.

Am I just supposed to live with the supposed “speed sensors” or is there something really wrong?

It is brakes, not breaks. Rotor, not router, and there is no such thing as speed sensing brakes.

We don’t know yet if you are nuts.

Ok, so I know very little about cars, that’s why I’m asking. I’m sorry my spelling isn’t good enough for a legit answer. I do know that when I hit the brake pedal it’s supposed to stop…

Model-Year ? ABS Brakes ? How Many Miles On It ?
Was The Dealer A Genuine Ford New Car / Used Car Dealership Or Rather A Generic Car Dealer ?

It sounds like the dealer owes you a better diagnosis and repair before somebody gets hurt.


'97 Ford Taurus, It has Anti-lock brakes (I’m assuming that’s what abs is) 97,000 miles. It was a Used car dealership.

Also “Ford Taurus features speed sensors, which act as a kind of tachometer that reads the speed of your Taurus’ wheel rotation by monitoring the tooth rings on the hub assembly. Speed sensors also play an important role in regulating the anti-lock brake system. The speed sensors relay the wheel rotation information to your car’s computer, which then prevents your brakes from locking when you unexpectedly brake in wet and slippery conditions. If the speed sensor malfunctions, your car’s brakes are more likely to lock up in an emergency”

So please don’t just be mean just to be mean when you’re uninformed.

Does this 13 year old car really have any warranty coverage from the dealer 2 months after purchase?
Somehow, I doubt it.

From the symptoms that you described, it appears that the brake master cylinder is worn out. Rather than continuing to debate who should be responsible for the repair, I strongly suggest that you immediately take the car to a mechanic, and have it repaired on your own dime before you wind up in a serious accident.

If you kill someone, a jury is unlikely to accept “I think that the dealer should have paid to fix my brakes” as a viable alibi.

Is your brake light on in the dashboard? Have you ever owned or driven a car with antilock brakes? Does the car exhibit this behavior on all types of road surfaces? I ask because, in most cases, if the brake pedal goes to the floor, it is normally accompanied by a brake light because it is caused by fluid loss or a partial brake failure. On the other hand, if you are driving in slick conditions and the ABS kicks in, it can feel like the pedal is sinking to the floor beneath your feet, which can be disconcerting to someone unfamiliar with how ABS is supposed to work. You may want to take the car to a repair shop and have a mechanic take a test drive with you to see what they say about it. I once did some brake work on a guy’s S-10 pickup. Every time after that we had slick winter weather, he brought the truck to the shop and complained that the brakes were acting up. He swore he knew what the ABS would do, and that wasn’t it. I finally took him for a drive in his truck through a deserted parking lot, slammed on the brakes and asked if that was what he was talking about. He finally accepted that the brakes were not acting up and that is what they are supposed to do.

The break light came on at one point, then went off within the same drive so I honestly don’t know what happened there.

I’ve had a few cars with anti-lock brakes, the anti-locks do kick in when it slides a lot, I can hear them they make kinda a scary noise, but I’ve had it happen with my other cars… and even my boyfriends s-10 where it sounds kinda like it’s grinding and feel them pumping themselves when it kicks in.

Lately it’s been on every type of road I drive on, whether the road is snowy or cleared off and dry. When it first acted up for that week I was talking about, it was before the snow actually showed up, so the roads were clear.

But, the abs does kick in a lot, because I have to push the pedal firmly to the floor to stop, which if there is ice on the road it triggers the breaks to pump, or grind or do whatever they do. When it’s stopping though the pedal actually goes down really fast until it gets to the tail end before actually hitting it to the floor.

Oh, and I did put break fluid in when it acted up the last time. (The specific type that the manual calls for.) But it wasn’t very low at all.

You need to follow VDCdriver’s advice and just get the car to a good local mechanic. You can’t expect a dealer of used cars, especially on a car this old to do much but shrug at you and tell you things are “normal.” If you want to eliminate all possibility that this is the ABS system, pull the ABS fuse temporarily and do some braking someplace safe. If the symptoms remain then you know its got nothing to do with the ABS system (speed sensors). But your description does sound more like a master cylinder problem.

Additionally, katawesome needs to slow down.

If her ABS does “kick in a lot”, this indicates that she is driving too fast for conditions. Even in conditions of poor winter traction, my ABS only activates on rare occasions, and that has been true for all of the cars that I have owned with ABS.

I am still fairly confident that there is a problem with the BRAKE master cylinder on her car, but even when that problem is repaired, she still needs to slow down, especially when the roads are slick. Otherwise, she will probably still be trying to get a jury to accept her “the dealer was supposed to fix the brakes” defense.

I’d vote the master cylinder is going bad, but the important thing is to take the car to a good mechanic. A '97 Taurus is a car any good shop can diagnose and fix. You can’t keep driving the car with faulty brakes, so don’t wait on this any longer.

You are not nuts. Intermittent problems are the hardest to track down until there is a complete failure. With brakes a complete failure is just too dangerous, so take the car to another shop.

I hope you have budgeted some money for repairs. A 14 year old Taurus is going to need repairs now and again.

I have some experience with Ford ABS systems. The brake pedal going to the floor has nothing to do with the ABS system. More than likely the brakes weren’t bled properly or there is a problem with the master cylinder.

Since your life depends on it, take to a trusted independent mechanic and have the brake system properly diagnosed and repaired. I’ve had one bad master cylinder in my life and it failed with no warning, fortunately there was nobody else in the intersection at the time.

Ed B.

I second an issue starting to form in the Master Cylinder.
I also second the need for an entirely different mechanic.


Will you just chill on the “the dealer was supposed to fix the brakes” comment? I’m just asking what is wrong with the car, the dealer did give me a guarantee in writing that the brakes were perfectly fine, but I’m more just looking for an answer.

Secondly, I am not driving too fast, it’s just pretty hard to “slow down” when the car will not “slow down” until the brake is firmly pressed to the floor, causing it to completely harsh stop. 25 miles an hour my car should be able to stop on light snow covered road… I’ve been living in wisconsin all my life and this is the first car that has psychotic brakes.

So I want to have an idea of what is wrong so I know about how much I’m going to end up paying. And how big of a deal it is.

Is it like a requirement that people have to be rude on the internet?


This is not an ABS problem. This is a master cylinder problem.

The way the brakes work is that you have a closed hydraulic system incorporating a master cylinder with “push” pistons, brake lines, and calipers (and cylinders) with “slave” pistons. When you push the pedal, the fluid being pushed in the master cylinder transfers the force down the lines and it pushes the pistons in the calipers (front) and cylinders (rear drums) and forces the pads against the brakes frictional surfaces.

ABS monitors and compares the speed of the wheels amd interferes with the hydraulic pressures in any line the wheel or which it determines has stopped turning. But it does NOT interfere the amount of fluid and allow the pedal to sink to the bottom.

The pedal is occasionally sinking to the bottom because fluid is sometimes passing by the piston seals in the master cylinder as it tries to transmit the force to the wheels. The seals in the MC are failing.

You need to get this towed to a reputable shop. You are in danger of suddenly and completely losing your brakes.

This has nothing to do with being nuts. I’m nuts, so I know these things.

If a customer complains that the brake pedal sometimes goes to the floor and the shop dismisses the complaint it is absolutely time to find a new shop. There is no need to translate the problem to auto-tech lingo.

“Is it like a requirement that people have to be rude on the internet?” No more than it is to be hypersensitive ;).

Seriously you’ve gotten plenty of good advice so far. I suggest that you worry less about the mild critiques of your driving style based solely on your own comments and get the Taurus to a proper mechanic ASAP. Any advice VDCdriver and others has offered is to keep you safe and not to insult needlessly.

As other posters have noted, a 97 Taurus is not an exotic car and should be easily be diagnosed and repaired by any competent shop. Replacing a master cylinder shouldn’t be more than a few hundred and if you are lucky the brakes may just need to be bled properly.

Ed B.

Another vote for the master cylinder problem.

Regarding the snippy comments on driving too fast, I’ll point out that my ABS almost never activates in my Acura, but on the Ford vehicles we drive at work, it activates almost every time I brake if the roads are even slightly slick. It’ll even activate under moderate braking in the summer. Ford ABS and TCS both suck. And they ship with crap tires, which just exacerbates the suckage. I’m guessing the OP isn’t driving too fast, but is a victim of pisspoor system design.

Just wondering how many posts of looking at the master cylinder it will take.