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To bleed the brakes or not bleed the brakes... this is a question.

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Old 10-01-2011, 06:33 PM
JoSHN JoSHN is offline
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To bleed the brakes or not bleed the brakes... this is a question.

Recently, my truck had started making a wonderful noise from the front passenger side brakes. I knew it was metal on metal and it sounded horrible. So I took a trip to the auto parts store and bought myself new pads and rotors.

I popped the tires off, pulled the calipers and removed the pads. The drivers side showed an even wear on the pads, but was close to needing replacement (1/8"+ of pad). The rotor had a 1/8" lip on the edge, but a grooved surface. The passenger side however, was showing even wear on the outer pad (same amount of pad left as on the drivers), but the inner pad was showing a terrible uneven wear. It went from 1/8" on the front of the pad to -1/16". Metal on metal. I'm thinking a sticky caliper, but I'm not sure.

Now, I have a few questions here. When we pushed the caliper in, my mechanically inclined friend (being the impulsive type of mechanic that he is) didn't open the bleeder screw to relieve pressure. He basically used a C-clamp and a pair of channel locks. I made sure that neither piston was pressed out too much farther than the other, but neither were pressed in together. He figured that keeping it as a closed system would eliminate the need to bleed the calipers. I was not all too happy about the idea, but I also wasn't sure if we would have an issue with the ABS sensors if we did bleed it.

Regardless, the brakes were changed out, and I drove home. Now, I might just be noticing this more because I'm thinking about it, but the brakes do feel slightly spongy and less responsive. Granted, I have been driving a Mustang that has an amazing response to the brakes so i might just be used to that.

So my questions are,
Does my friends closed system idea actually work?

If I do bleed the brakes, is there a chance that I will run into an issue with an ABS sensor?

What is a quick way to check for a sticky caliper?
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:30 PM
TallEddie-1981 TallEddie-1981 is offline
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Yes, your friends system does technically work. At rest, when your foot is off the brake, there is no pressure in the system. Pushing the piston in without opening the bleeder forces the fluid back into the reservoir on top of the master cylinder. This shouldn't introduce any air into the system.

A better way to do it is to get a pair of needle nose vice grips, put fuel line over the ends of the vice grips and clamp the brake line, then open the bleeder and push the piston back in the caliper. This also should not introduce any air into the system.

Doing it your friends way usually doesn't cause any problems, but there is a possibility of messing up the ABS if the fluid is contaminated.

Bleeding the brakes should not cause an issue with the ABS. If you do bleed them, I like to put a block of wood behind the brake pedal so it doesn't go all the way to the floor. The reason being is that over time a small amount of residue can build up along the bottom edge of the piston in the master cylinder. When the pedal goes all the way to the floor, this rough edge can mess up the seals in the cylinder, causing it to fail.

You basically already did the check for a sticking caliper, look at the pads to see if they wear evenly. Yours are not, you need to lube the parts the caliper slide on. I am not sure of the setup on the F150, since I haven't done brakes on it yet. But the caliper slides on a set of pins, over time they corrode and the caliper doesn't slide properly, so one pad wears more than the other.

Good luck.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:29 PM
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Bleed those brakes. Fluid is old

Brake fluid is hygroscopic. Over time it'll change colors from all the water it absorbs...and age.

I'd invite that buddy back over with a 12 pack. Start at right rear, left rear, front right, then finally front left. Pump until you get new fluid at each caliper


Btw, use a turkey basted to remove the old fluid from resorvior first. Helps it go faster. It's $20-25 to do this.
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