Master Cylinder, or ABS?

subaru
outback

#1

My brakes are failing, and the mechanic says it is either the Master Cylinder or even worse (and more expensive!? $2500 for the part the ABS)



What is the cost of fixing the master cylinder, and is it worth it? The car has 115,000 miles. Year 2001 And… we just spent around $3000 last year to get the gaskets rebuilt, timing belt etc!



He says we can go ahead with the master cylinder… but if it doesn’t work it is indeed the ABS. Not sure I can afford either, and definitely not both!



Any experience or advice would be appreciated. Seems like there are not a lot of miles… so I am wondering if a trade in is in the cards… or do I invest in this car?


#2

What are thy symptoms? Is there a brake light illuminated on the dash? Are there any codes the dealer can pull to see if the ABS has a problem.


#3

On a repair of significant dollars you should get another set of eyes on the problem and get another estimate. If your mechanic isn’t working at a Subaru dealership, then get an estimate from a dealer service department. On major repairs sometimes the dealer has the best diagnostic equipment, training, and experience to meet or beat other quotes.

I’d suggest 2 more estimates, one from a dealer service dept., and another from a good shop that knows Subaru. With 3 estimates perhaps the situation will get clearer and you can make a decision.

A new car might be your answer, but you are committing to a big monthly payment for years to come. It take more money for repairs to keep an '01 car going. But you don’t have a monthly car payment which might make the repairs bills more tolerable. Your car is 10 years old so repairs are to be expected and you need to budget accordingly.


#4

I’m uncomfortable with the approach of “we’ll change the master cylinder and if that doesn’t fix it we’ll change the ABS part”. That sounds to me like a “parts changer” rather than a mechanic. That’s someone who keeps changing parts until the symptoms disappear because he lacks either the skills or willlingness to diagnose the problem.

What are the symptoms? What has he done for diagnostics?


#5

No lights or indicators… we just have to tap the brakes, and put the pedal to the floor to engage. (Yes, this is a dodgy scenario!) Mechanic said they bled the lines 3 times to see if it was that the brakes were not getting fluid… seems to him that the lines are fine, brakes themselves and rotors have all been replaced in the last expensive adventure.


#6

Symptons: No lights or indicators of brake problems… we just have to tap the brakes, and put the pedal to the floor to engage. (Yes, this is a dodgy scenario!) Mechanic said they bled the lines 3 times to see if it was that the brakes were not getting fluid… seems to him that the lines are fine, brakes themselves and rotors have all been replaced in the last expensive adventure.

Perhaps a dealer is in the cards- I just hate how they find millions of more problems, and insist you are driving in an unsafe car until they are fixed!


#7

Get another mechanic. Yours is an idiot. It’s easy to test to see if it’s the MC or not. If he can’t or won’t check the MC for proper operation, then he doesn’t need your business.


#8

Try a new master cylinder. The part should be less than $100 and it shouldn’t take very long to replace. Call a couple mechanics for quotes.


#9

Definitely try another shop.

First, it’s easy to determine if air in the lines is the cause. Very easy. Air in the lines will pressurize and the pedal will harden as it’s pumped. Bleeding the lines is a waste of time unless air is the problem.

Second, ABS symptoms are totally different than air in the lines. And both of those create different symptoms than a bad MC. Or sticky calipers. Or bad pads or rotors. Or a bad booster. And all of these things are easy to check.

It sounds to me like you might have a bad MC. It sounds like the fluid is bypassing the piston seals inside. But do NOT take my word for it. Get a reputable shop that has the ability to diagnose the actual cause hands-on.


#10

From your description of the symptoms it sounds much more likely to be the master cylinder than ABS brakes. Again, you need to get more estimates on this repair from other mechanics. This shouldn’t be hard to diagnose.


#11

Hi guess I just wanted to confirm. I had the same issue. I have 07 Ford Fusion. I was in an accident where my brakes failed. Pedal has been soft ever since. Insurance wont cover it because I rear ended the other person. When I took it to ford they said it is the abs module and gave me a 2000 dollar quote. I couldn’t pay that. Filed a complaint with NHTSA they said that they are aware of the issue but there are no recalls yet. They added my info to the complaints. I went to a mechanic and bought a used abs module beacause new is $800. Brought it to the shop. They quoted around 300 for replacement. Had it replaced and they called back saying the brakes are still soft. I asked if they know if its the abs or needs to be reprogrammed and they said they dont know and that they think it’s the master cylinder. They advised to replace it to see if it will fix the issue and want additional $600 for the work. Ford never told me that. But I also dont know the extent of their inspection. I asked the local shop if there is a way to tell which is the issue because I can get a new abs module or a new cylinder, but not both. They said no there isn’t. Do I believe them ? Is there a way to tell and are they yanking my chain ? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


#12

It could be that your master cylinder has an internal leak. That is, the fluid is not being pushed by the piston. Instead, it partially flows around the piston when you engage the brakes


#13

I doubt if the OP even still has this vehicle since they last posted in 2011


#14

Exactly what did you buy . . . ?

abs hydraulic unit?

abs control unit . . . in other words, the computer?

If the problem is hydraulic, replacing only the control module won’t solve anything, in my opinion