NO Brakes



How can that happen so suddenly, without any warning? 2001 Taurus had Ford warranty service less than 2,000 miles ago in late Nov. when Ford said brakes OK. My foot went down to the floor, traveling 65 MPH on a toll road, as I was approx one mile from toll plaza. Emergency brake finally engaged approx 100 feet from plaza.


A lot can happen in four months, such as excessive wear on the brake pads due to stuck calipers, a leak in the hydraulic system, etc. This reminds me of the people who say, in regard to any automotive problem, “How could this happen? I had the oil changed a few months ago.” That is sort of like the person who believes that he should not have had a heart attack after visiting his dentist/podiatrist/orthopedist/chiropractor. In other words, one situation is almost always not related to the other situation.

Did you have any unusual noises emanating from the car in the week prior to the incident? Was your braking action “normal” up to the time of the incident?

The “emergency brake” actually engaged as soon as you applied it. But, since it applies braking power only to the rear wheels, it has limited ability to stop the car, thus the feeling that it only engaged 100 ft. from the toll plaza.

You have to be A LOT more specific on the reason for brake failure in order for us to give an opinion as to whether the dealership might be at fault. What does the repair invoice state?


Was the warranty service for the brakes? What exactly did they do for the service?


First check the fluid level in the brake master cylinder. If it’s low, there’s a leak somewhere and has to be found. If no leaks are found, then remove the brake master cylinder from the vacuum brake booster to see if the seal failed and is leaking into the booster.

If the fluid level is fine, and no leaks can be found anywhere, then it usually means the brake master cylinder has failed and is leaking internally. Especially if the brake warning light never came on.



You can’t really blame the Ford mechanics for this one. Your car was in tip-top condition when it left the shop three months ago. You drove it for 2,000 miles without any problems. Warranty service cannot be expected to catch unpredictable catastrophic failure months afterward.

I assume your car is in the shop now and that the failed part will be replaced. Master cylinder? I hope you’ll give us a report.


While traveling at 65 mph my 2001 Taurus brakes failed without any warning. The brake fluid level was fine, no leaks and just four months before this occured I had warranty service inspection at Ford who said everything checked out fine. Repairs cost nearly $1,500 on both front & rear brakes to replace both master cylinders, warped drums, pads, etc. were needed. (I did have front brake pads installed 6 months earlier.) My warranty miles are still valid at 58,700 though the 6 year deadline has now passed. Ford did all warranty service since I purchased it. I could have been killed. Shouldn’t this problem have been previously discovered? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN WITHOUT ANY WARNING? I believe Ford should take some responsibility for my huge towing & repair bill. DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD BE CONTACTED RE: THIS OCCURANCE AND POSSIBLE ACTION?


Something fishy here…TOTAL brake failure is EXTREMELY rare. Todays cars have a dual braking system, the master cylinder split into two separate chambers which provide independent braking to front and rear brakes. For BOTH cylinders to fail at the same time is a million to one shot…

The only explanation I can think of is that the rod that connects the brake pedal to the master cylinder somehow broke or fell out of position, rendering the entire system inoperable. Checking the brake-pedal-to-master-cylinder-rod is not part of any service inspection and failure here is also extremely rare…

When your car is repaired, you should ask to see (and keep) the failed parts. They belong to you…


More fish…Brakes are not covered under warranty and your car has only one brake master cylinder.

You still have not told us why, exactly, your brakes failed…


First, let me be clear that I really empathize with you, as the experience must have been very scary. That being said, you have still not told us what the “warranty service inspection” four months ago included.

Truthfully, I don’t know of any automotive inspection that could predict catastrophic failure of a master cylinder four months later. When a mechanic “checks the brakes” (assuming that this procedure was done 4 months ago), it simply means that he inspects the condition of the brake pads and rotors and checks the level of the brake fluid. If he is really thorough, he might also look closely for leaks in the hydraulic system. But, four months later, virtually any component can suffer catastrophic failure.

Also, I don’t understand the reference to “My warranty miles are still valid at 58,700 though the 6 year deadline has now passed”. Which warranty? If you are referring to the Powertrain Warranty, even if the 6 year limit had not been reached, brakes are not covered by a Powertrain Warranty. The master cylinder would have been covered by the Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, but that warranty probably expired on the basis of elapsed time somewhere in 2004–if not before then.

You might want to read the actual wording of the various warranties on your car, as I think that you don’t necessarily have a full understanding of what is covered by which warranty–even though the warranty issue is a moot point after all this time.

Unless you can provide us with a more compelling reason for either the dealership or Ford Motor Company to be responsible for this incident, I have to say that you are the unfortunate victim of catastrophic failure, and by its very nature, that is not predictable.


You cannot blame anybody if for example, a metal brake line rusted through. Who can see through metal? Nobody! Brake fluid absorbs moisture and even though the fluid was replaced with your calipers (you said master cylinders)the metal lines would still be as bad as before the fluid was replaced. Just as other posters wrote, you need to say what went bad. Hope all goes well.


This is just FYI. The emergency brake is not an emergency brake but a park brake. It is not designed to stop a car in an emergency but, I am greatful you stopped safely.


Are you sure the pedal went all the way to the floor? A friend one time told me of a similar problem… turns out the power assist went out on her brakes - when she put “normal pressure” on the pedal it didn’t seem to be braking. If she had stood on the brakes she would have been able to stop - unfortunately she was not as alert as you and she used a mailbox and someones front lawn as her brakes.


Interesting thread since I have a brake-related problem.

Here’s the background. I have a 1991 Lexus LS400, in pretty darned good condition with only 127,000 miles on it. Just got it back from a reputed local mechanic after brake-related problems. Started hearing grinding noise from the front - took it in right away. Brake caliper had seized, had it replaced along with front brake pads, rotors (as well as upper control arms since they were worn as well).

ANYWAY, just got it back today. Ran errands and the brake feels too soft. I’m driving at 25-30mph within city limits and feel like I have to brake much earlier then I used to, to come to a safe stop so I dont rear-end vehicle in front. Plan to call mechanic first thing tomorrow morning and find out what’s going on, but does anyone here have a clue?


My guess is air in the lines, especially since the caliper was replaced, opening up the system. Take it back and have them take a look at it and bleed the system if that’s all it needs. Hopefully the master cylinder is ok, but your mechanic should be able to figure it out pretty quickly.


probably have air in the brake line. It may not have been bled properly (or at all) after the caliper was replaced. Even good shops can accidently forget that step.