Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Did I brake it

I recently replaced my brake pads on my '00 Olds Intrigue and now the pedal feels too soft/spongy. I checked the calipers prior to installing the pads, bled the lines and ensured the lines weren’t pinched.

After I installed the pads I tried to brake and nothing, straight to the floor. Then I opened the bleeders and gave a few pumps of the pedal and they shot off like old faithful, but after closing them, I still didn’t have enough pressure to hold the car if I put it in gear. I’m hoping against hope that I just have stuck calipers ( still bad) and not a bad master cylinder. What’s next?

Its not really clear what you are saying. Immediately after reassembling the brakes you do have to pump the pedal a whole bunch of times to get the caliper/pads reseated onto the rotors. As you do that the pedal will go to floor to start with. It might not have looked like a lot of clearance between rotors and pads but it was and it takes several pumps.

But then it sounds like you just opened the bleeders and started pumping? Whatever you did you then probably allowed air into the lines.

Do you have a repair manual for the car? I would do a full bleed procedure at this point.

Your technique in “bleeding the brakes” is suspect. Cars with ABS systems can be tricky and you’ve definately got air in your brake lines somewhere. I think you’ve got to take the car to someone who really knows how to bleed the brakes properly.

If you insist on DIY, go to an auto parts store and buy a brake bleeding kit. The kits include the stuff you need to get the air out without letting more air back in. Even with a kit it is still easy for a DIY’r to botch the job. This is job better left to the pro’s in my opinion.

Older cars, pre-ABS and traction controls etc., were easy to bleed the brakes and get the air out. It just isn’t so anymore.

When you replced the pads you spread the calipers to get the new pads in. They were simply returning to the correct position the first time you stepped on the brake, that’s why the pedal went to the floor. That much was normal.

Then you screwed up when you bled the brakes. You have to press on the pedal, and open the bleeder with the pedal pressed, then close the fitting BEFORE releasing the pedal. From what you said you’ve released the pedal (several times) with the bleeder open, thus drawing air into the system.

Maybe you need a knowledgeable friend to give you a hand with this.

Thank you, I’ll be sure to try that out.

You’re right, Thank you.

Yes, my misguided attempt at and misinterpretation of bleeding has created a lot of trouble. I’m going to give it one more try with proper technique and equipment and then I’ll call my mechanic.

It is a much easier job with the car on a lift and someone in the car “pumping” the brake petal while another person opens and closes the bleeders from below.

For a DIY without a lift it is more difficult getting to the bleeder valves. It will make a tough job easier if you use a helper to work the brake petal. With a good kit it can be a one person job, but it takes a lot more time and effort.