Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - bluenun

I did post a while back saying my back brakes were making a grinding noise and did jack the back up, take the wheels off but could not undo the 4 bolts holding the drum on, actually I could only get a socket on 1 of them and could get no leverage while laying down.

So I took it to a small garage, he had fitted 2 front tyres for me a couple of months back and seened ok so I asked if he could fit new shoes on the rear.

I waited in the waiting room, I did pop out once but could see he did not want to chat so I went back in the waiting room.

I did notice that the right side cylinder was a bit damp around the rubber boots. I did not see the left side.

It took him about 1 hour and then he took it for a short test drive, when he got back he told me the brakes feel spongy and the pedal travels a long way.

I quickly went to the car which was in the workshop and drove forward and backwards a couple of times and could feel the pedal definitely moved further than it ever has before.

When driving it today, the first press of the pedal goes further, but the second press of the pedal is normal and the brakes work well on the second push of the pedal.

He said it is nothing serious but I need a new cylinder as one was leaking, they are only £7 each so might aswel do both sides and he would charge 1 hours labour.

Could it be anything else causing the spongy brakes?

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - gordonbennet

You only need to do one thing here, and that is to find another garage, i wouldn't have fitted the shoes unless you had authorised the wheel cylinder(s) at the same time.

You really shouldn't be driving this car at all till its fixed properly, complete brake failure is a possibility if that weeping seal in the leaking cylinder gives out completely, anyone's guess what the rest of the system is like, please get it checked over completely by someone competent.

At the very least before you drive it again check the brake fluid revervoir is topped up, and whilst parked stationary at home stand on your brake pedal as if doing an emergency stop, if the seal or some other weak part of the system is going to blow, better it does so on your drive than during a panic stop on the road for a real reason, you could end up with the book being thrown at you if something tragic happened.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - bluenun

Are the brake cylinders supposed to be changed when the brake shoes are renewed or only when there is a suspected leak?

I did check the brake fluid level this morning and it is between the high and low marks on the reservoir.

Yes I need to find another garage.

I have lived here for over 2 years and this is the first time I have needed one.

I am in a village and there is a local garage but everyone told me not to use it as he is a bodger.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - gordonbennet

Are the brake cylinders supposed to be changed when the brake shoes are renewed or only when there is a suspected leak?

Not changed unless necessary, but if you in glancing saw the cylinder was leaking then a mechanic should have seen flashing lights in front of his eyes and heard alarm bells in his head.

The car is now older, i would have expected to find at least one leaking slave cyl behind those drums had i been doing the job, pity it has to come apart again it would have been so much simpler to fit the new cylinders wth the brakes already dismantled...bear in mind the rear brake pipes may not come undone without twisting up when the cyls are changed so expect a few more ££ for new pipes if that happens.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - bluenun

You are correct, it would have been easier to fit new cylinders while the hubs were off.

He does not keep parts in stock, they are delivered when ordered.

Thanks for the heads up about the possibility of the brake pipes being damaged

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - jc2

Don't know about Focus but rear brake cylinders on Escorts were designed to be SLIGHTLY damp around the seal area.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - edlithgow

That sounds designed to be slightly unbelievable.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - Andrew Irvine

Don't know about Focus but rear brake cylinders on Escorts were designed to be SLIGHTLY damp around the seal area.

I worked on Fords including escorts for over 30 years, if brake cylinders were even slightly damp they were replaced, or re-rubbered back in the day.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - jc2

I suuggest you read the genuine Ford workshop manual! Garages must have made a lot of money replacing them.

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - Big John

I suuggest you read the genuine Ford workshop manual! Garages must have made a lot of money replacing them.

On any brake hydraulic system there should be never any brake fluid leaking past seals . If there is then the rubber seals are worn or the bores are damaged / worn/ scored.

I've worked on many a brake system over the years and would ALWAYS replace components where leaking brake fluid is seen. I always peeled back the dust cap to check. Many brake systems used to be Girling / Lockheed.

I once experienced a catastrophic brake failure on a single hydraulic circuit Ford IV Zodiac when approaching a set of traffic lights at the bottom of a hill. Fortunately clutch / gearbox was robust allowing me to engage reverse and use the power of the v6 3l engine to rev, drop clutch and spin the wheel backwards. Couldn't use the handbrake to stop as the design on this car was rubbish - one of the earliest rear disc designs. On investigation this was a worn rear calliper seal that had inverted.

Edited by Big John on 15/05/2017 at 23:23

Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec auto 2003 - Spongy brakes - gordonbennet

Girling Swinging Caliper just to remind you Big John, horrible design, i too had a mk4 Zodiac where the brakes were no trouble at all, nor was the car itself, before that i had a mk4 Zephry which more than made up for it.

The rear caliper covers used to leak which would then corrode the inner workings (all parts available so easily rebuilt, i could do them in my sleep in the end) but the weakness of the design if my memory serves was that once the self adjuster seized the piston could eventually move out far enough to pop the seal, a poor parking brake would almost guarantee seized adjuster on the cards.

The same caliper was used on the back of Rover P6, but inboard discs so the caliper covers didn't suffer salt corrosion to the same extent so they weren't as troublesome, just as well as they were a nightmare to work on right beside the diff with the great lump of that wonderful De Dion tube getting in the way.

I too had complete brake failure once on the open road, driving my sisters Wartburg Knight (which went like hell), dropping down the slip road coming off the A1 at either Stevenage or Welwyn turn, luckily the handbrake was old school with big drum brakes so stopped the car in time, after a few minutes the brakes returned to normal, i changed the brake fluid and the problem never reappeared so put it down to either old fluid boiled or poor quality original fluid.

Edited by gordonbennet on 16/05/2017 at 00:25

 

Ask Honest John

Value my car