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Discussion Starter #1
I had brake failure on my worn out `99 Ford Ranger. Two days ago was driving and the pedal felt spongy. It would slowly go down and if I let off pressure slightly seemed to go farther down each time. My initial diagnosis was the master cylinder was bypassing or leaking out the back. Didnt bother to check anything tho.

Yesterday I was headed out and noticed the ABS and brake lights were both on now. But one big difference from the day before. Pedal was gone and went right to the floor. I finished my local run and headed back to shop. It is a stick shift, so without brakes isnt too hard to drive. Of all the years driving old worn out forklifts, brakes were an unexpected luxury. So reliving my earlier years of living on the edge.

Today, I decided to check the brakes out. First thing obvious is master cylinder is empty. But nothing leaking down the brake booster. So there had to be a leak somewhere. I looked under the bed at both wheels. Left side was soaked with brake fluid.

Pulled the wheel and drum. Wheel cylinder is dripping and everything is soaked with fluid. Odd the wheel cylinder just decides to take a dump. Even tho the truck has 170,000+ miles and now over 20 years old. It also has never had the rear brakes replaced, no reason for the wheel cylinder to suddenly die like this.

After removing the wheel cylinder I tore it apart and found one of the cups to be deformed and severely worn. Not anything I am accustomed to or expecting to see. Normally on higher mileage vehicles, the cups will be leaking, but not too bad. This went from working fine then emptied master cylinder and nothing.



Left one is normally what I would expect to see. Working fine if bore of cylinder is not rusted, have buildup, or pitted.





The base diameter of cup is rounded over and worn down considerably. There was not any real buildup in cylinder bore. I wold normally dig thru my stockpile and replace just the cups, if honing cleans bore well enough.

Instead I gave in and bought a new wheel cylinder locally. Washed the shoes and cleaned the hardware in MEK. Put everything went back together and just cracked the bleed screw. Then lightly pumped the pedal until it quit spitting out air. Now the pedal is back up solid and good as new again.

I am still trying to figure out why the cup was worn this way. I have seen a lot of odd things from worn brakes. Even tho this isnt any real travesty, I still would like to understand why the one cup died.
 

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"TURGID FLUX"
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Melted not worn? Overheated? Locked caliper?

I have a 2001 Expy with 90K and a few years back the right rear brake started to lock up and eventually heated up the disk to the point the axle seal failed.

Inititially the shop blamed the parking brake inside the high hat. That was not it. I had them replace the caliper and the rubber lines all around. The rubber lines will break down, act like a check valve and the caliper will not return to rest. In my case it was an intermittent problem. If you have smelled hot brakes, they are yours.

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That is strange but you got 20 years and 170k miles out of it. That's pretty darn good, I really wouldn't worry about it.
That being said, probably contamination in the fluid caused the cup deform over time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Melted not worn? Overheated? Locked caliper?

I have a 2001 Expy with 90K and a few years back the right rear brake started to lock up and eventually heated up the disk to the point the axle seal failed.

Inititially the shop blamed the parking brake inside the high hat. That was not it. I had them replace the caliper and the rubber lines all around. The rubber lines will break down, act like a check valve and the caliper will not return to rest. In my case it was an intermittent problem. If you have smelled hot brakes, they are yours.

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Your problem was caused from plastic caliper pistons. They eventually absorb contaminated brake fluid and swell up. Then stick in the bore.

I have repaired plenty of them by remachining the piston diameter back down to original size.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Cup seals in wheel cylinders will fail without warning
Do a rear brake overhaul....not a patch job like you did.
Replace shoes....hardware...and cylinder on both sides
This wheel cylinder cup failed for a reason. The other one is what I normally see on high mileage vehicles. I would like to know what actually caused it to deform. Especially after so many miles without an issue. The cup had to have dragged over some buildup and caused to turn slightly. Then stayed in that position long enough to wear down the back side. Just not something I see every day. Usually if they rotate at all then leak out quickly.

If this were a friends or customers car I would do it the right way without question.
 

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"TURGID FLUX"
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Your problem was caused from plastic caliper pistons. They eventually absorb contaminated brake fluid and swell up. Then stick in the bore.



I have repaired plenty of them by remachining the piston diameter back down to original size.
Plastic phenolic piston. That's crazy in a huge SUV. I have had the brake fluid changed several times. I guess the shop did not flush it all out. This last time with all new hoses, rear calipers , hopefully it is all drained.

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If I had to guess, rust or some other contaminate in the bore caught the cup and tweaked it a bit... pressure finished it off.

Rust in the rear drums of older rangers was a big issue. I went through the brakes on a 98 not too long ago where the rear drums were crumbling from rust at 140k.

I'd pull both sides apart and replace hardware and wheel cylinders. If the shoes and drums are decent, use em. If one fails, the other isn't far behind it.
 

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As easy as it is for a piston to malfunction, it's worth it to rebuild everything when you put on new tires and pads. I helped a friend rebuild the brakes on a vehicle with four wheel disc brakes because he said that it was pulling right when he applied the brakes. All the pads had worn down to the metal and one front caliper had seized and snapped off the flange of the rotor. He had one front caliper working and both rears were metal on metal and had gotten so hot that the seals fried so they were leaking. I can kind of understand people who fudge on drum brakes, but he ended up spending several hundred dollars for a repair that could have been prevented with $60 worth of brake pads. I carry spare shoes and pads in all my vehicles so I won't have an excuse not to change them when I change tires or rotate them.
Also, it's not like the old days when you could get your drums and/or rotors turned down for $10 each. Most of the small garages and machine shops in my area were put out of business years ago.
 

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Does it really matter? You got 20 years out of a part that usually doesn’t last 20 years
The heat at the wheel cylinder usually causes the brake fluid that is trapped at the cylinder to break down and in turn will cause issues with cup seals.
 

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Had my '97 Dodge diesel up on a buddy's lift putting a front axle seal in and noticed that some of the steel brake lines were rusty. Replaced every line on the truck with nickel/copper lines. Well worth the cost and time.
 

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So you care less about your own safety?
How about the safety of the other drivers on the road when your brakes fail?
If he got that many miles out of a Ford Ranger, my guess is he drives slow.
This is a Prepper's website. Something about making a truck like that last
that long appeals to me.

Think about it. What if his truck were in a Walking Dead like situation?
It don't take a lot of imagination to admire some one who acts like he
is in the Great Depression and is making due with what he has. :thumb:
 

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If he got that many miles out of a Ford Ranger, my guess is he drives slow.
This is a Prepper's website. Something about making a truck like that last
that long appeals to me.

Think about it. What if his truck were in a Walking Dead like situation?
It don't take a lot of imagination to admire some one who acts like he
is in the Great Depression and is making due with what he has. :thumb:
Some of us just buy toyota's :)

Just kidding. I'm sure Fords can be perfectly good vehicles. I've never had one so I'm not qualified to bash them in a serious way.

I replaced the rear cylinders on my tundra last fall, at 320k and 20 years I didn't think twice about why one of them seized up. Vehicles just wear out. Its not unusual.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Just for chits and giggles, I had to post this. I first bought the Ranger in 2011.
It was low mileage and one owner. Well up until he let his #1 son start driving. Then kid accidentally fell off the road one day. Insurance considered it a total loss. Dunno why.



It would still drive just fine. Luckily the airbag didnt go off. That would have been a expensive fix.



Using a tow dolly the truck followed me back to shop. Spent the better part of a month repairing the body. Hood fenders, grill and some small panels cost nearly $400.



At first I tried to pull out the damage on top. But decided to go another direction.

Headed out with a sawsall to the local pick you own parts bone yard and cut the top off a donor body.

Next required drilling out over 1000 spot welds to remove the dented top. There was at least three layers of overlapping sheetmetal panels to deal with before it finally peeled off.



This is what was left before putting it back together. Fortunately everything fit and I didnt have to use bondo to hide anything. Learned how to install a windshield too. Everything else just buffed right out...

So for the last 9 years I have been driving the truck with just over $800 out of pocket. Not too bad since brakes are the first problem to deal with since then.
 

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