Weak brakes on 2000 Blazer

Recently I had occasion to drive a few other cars besides my Blazer (a Town Car, an Impreza, and a Corolla) and found that the “normal driving” level of force I’m applying in my Blazer just about results in a “panic stop” level of braking in other cars!

It got me thinking that sometimes I do notice that the brakes feel ineffective–the feeling is similar to what you might feel if you were using the brakes with the engine off and the power booster reserve depleted. Where I notice it most is backing down my very steep driveway at slow (<5mph) speeds–I’m a conservative driver so I don’t brake hard often, but there have been a few occasions where I’ve noticed this feeling while braking heavily–the ABS does not click on, so it’s not related to that, it just feels like despite pushing very hard on the brake I’m not stopping as quickly as I should.

The pedal feels firm so I don’t think it’s air in the lines, and the rotors and pads were replaced immediately after I bought the car 9 months ago. Also, the ABS worked normally on snow/ice this past winter.

Can anyone recommend a method to test the power booster or master cylinder, or another idea about what might be wrong?

One thing that can cause a loss of performance from the brakes is if the friction surfaces are glazed over. This can occur if a brake job is performed and the friction surfaces weren’t broken in properly or, didn’t get happy with each other.

You might want to have the brakes inspected, and if you can see yourself in the rotor surface good enough where you can comb your hair, the brake surfaces are glazed.


Another problem that could be present is frozen slides for the calipers. Blazers are notorious for the rear caliper slides seizing up, and some of the more careless mechanics will simply install new pads and rotors without inspecting the slides, or simply ignoring them out of laziness. This will give you a firm pedal, but the sensation of having weak brakes, and will likely result in noise and pulsation out of the front brakes. It will also damage the new rear brakes, or the old rear brakes if you didn’t have the rears done. Have all of the slides checked out by a good independent mechanic, especially those rear ones.

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep things in perspective. The other cars you drove are lighter and smaller than your Blazer. This could give you the illusion that there is something wrong with the brakes when you feel how different cars can feel. I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with them, I’m just suggesting that all cars drive differently. Do have those slides inspected, though. Often overlooked problem.

The Haynes manual has a detailed list of ways to check the brake booster. I had a Saturn Vue, 2003, and I always wondered what the brakes did for a living.

Sure this is not a matter of perception? Different makes of cars can have a completely different feel to their brakes and there won’t be a thing wrong with any of them.

My SAAB has a harder feel than my Lincoln and when I drive my oldest son’s Camaro the brakes on that one feel hard as a rock to me after driving the Lincoln. He’s driven my Lincoln and wanted to know why the “brakes are so soft”.
My youngest son’s Camaro has brakes that feel like my Lincoln and my old Subaru was somewhere in the middle of all of that.
Nothing wrong with the brakes on any of those cars.