Brakes - wont hold fluid or generate compression when pumped but still work

Asked by Feb 13, 2013 at 04:44 PM about the 1999 Ford Ranger

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

First time driving after the blizzard was the first time I'd encountered my anti-lock brakes in years.  They
shuddered me to a stop maybe a total of three times in two miles before I made it to a main and clean road
and got up to speed.  I smelled something not-good but it didn't smell like brakes at the time and I turned up
my heat vent and could smell that it was coming from me (not the other two cars in front of me) but it quickly
passed and was gone.  Almost immediately after this my brakes floor before kicking in - pumping them
generates no compression.  I checked the brake fluid and it was of course low so I filled it and though it took
12 hours to seep out again it had zero effect on the brakes themselves which, despite being at the bottom of
the reach still work perfectly.  My question is this:  is there something that this is the obvious symptom of
beyond a tear/rip in a break line?  My local guys are very good but without fail go for the most expensive fix.  My
guess is I have punctured or torn a brake line (drove through MUCH snow in the blizzard) but I can't see where
it is and also I once in a while smell the brake fluid dripping on something hot when I exit the vehicle but can't
see where.  If there's some obvious thing this sounds like that's more than that - well that's my question.  
Thanks for your time!

3 Answers

Yikes, this is life and death scenario ya got here. Problem is diagnosing a brake line problem, a leak... is somewhere between difficult and impossible without being at the vehicle. I am no help. I get that. I opened your question to give you unsolicited advice for you to accept or reject as you see fit Proteon, do not drive the truck until it is fixed. That truck can be replaced You not.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
89,695

I live in the snow/rust belt and have had three vehicles do this. After eight-ten years, the steel brake lines rust to the point that they weep. Sometimes if you stomp on the brakes, it will leak more in one place. Your ABS may have triggered it. I tried to replace the line on one car and it was a frustrating experience. There wasn't any good line left to attach to and the bleeders were froze which made bleeding most difficult. --- Best advice is to take it to a shop and have the professionals replace the line from front to back. When I had my Pontiac done, we bought what they called a "bundle". It was a pair of brake lines and three fuel lines which replaced the OEM lines. If one line is rotted, the others will leak soon. Replace them all if you can afford it and plan on long term ownership.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thanks very much guys. Both replies were immensely helpful.

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