Spongy brake pedal - after changing all rotors/pads, rear calipers and bleeding system
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    1. #1
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Question Spongy brake pedal - after changing all rotors/pads, rear calipers and bleeding system

      So I changed all rotors and pads and also replaced the two rear calipers, followed by bleeding the system. But when testing the brakes, the pedal had become spongy.

      When engine is off, it firms up after stepping repeatedly a few times. However, once the engine is on, the pedal is spongy and travels a lot.

      The brakes do work and the handbrake also works on both rears.

      When bleeding, I tightened the bleeder screw when the fluid was completely free of air. After the screw had been tightened the person stepping on the brake released the pedal - although not slowly - is this an issue?

      Did I really break the Master Cylinder? I will try re-bleeding, but I am concerned that the MC crapped on me. Would the MC break if I turned on the engine when the MC was very low on fluid (as it had leaked from a broken caliper?

      Help is much appreciated.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    2. #2
      Member Our R's Avatar
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      It sounds like you still have air in the lines.
      If the MC ran low, you might of sucked in air.
      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy ****, what a ride!"

    3. #3
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Our R View Post
      It sounds like you still have air in the lines.
      If the MC ran low, you might of sucked in air.
      Thanks, yes I'm hoping it still has air in it so re-bleeding hopefully fixes it.

      But can I break a MC if I start the engine and let it run while the MC has too little fluid in it?

      I started the engine as I forgot my key in the ignition and the battery low message came up - so I wanted to do a quick battery charge. Before and when the engine ran, the display showed a "low brake fluid" message and stop car immediately (but I guess that is just to warn you not to drive when brakes are no good - not a warning about potentially damaging MC?).
      Last edited by Voldsom Volvo; 05-03-2012 at 04:37 PM.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    4. #4
      Member Our R's Avatar
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      No it wouldn't damage the MC.
      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy ****, what a ride!"

    5. #5
      Member chromecarz00's Avatar
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      If it shows low brake fluid, you've 99% sure got air in the lines.
      a car.

    6. #6
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by chromecarz00 View Post
      If it shows low brake fluid, you've 99% sure got air in the lines.
      Well it showed low brake fluid before I changed the rear calipers, pads and rotors. But then I bled the brakes afterwards in the following sequence: Right Rear, Left Rear, Right Front, Left Front. But perhaps there is still air in the system.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    7. #7
      Member EngTech's Avatar
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      Gravity Bleed the Clutch , If You have 1 .

      Nothing like washing out the Lines ,just think of it as a Water Reduction Treatment : Let Gravity do the Work and buy's You the Time to get the Last one undone - It will be Time to Tighten up the First one .
      This gives You time to get up and top off the MC .

      ( Electing the 2 Person Method or Low Pressure )
      Never pump the Pedal all the way to the Floor , You should be tightening as the Pedal is on the way Down , and Certainly Not Bleeding 3-4 ft of Continuous _ Squirt Fluid . read ( Pressure Bleed )

      I'm wondering If You got Air in the ABS system ? Thou
      ** V50 AWD - Handling & Performance Tweaks = New Stance / VW CC - Handling Tweaks - Testing & Porting - Intake Mods
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    8. #8
      Moderator aldebaran's Avatar
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      Make sure the rear pads are properly clipped onto their pistons if they have spring retainers on them.

    9. #9
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by aldebaran View Post
      Make sure the rear pads are properly clipped onto their pistons if they have spring retainers on them.
      Thanks, but there are no spring retainers on the rear pads, nor do I see any place on the rear caliper where the retainers would be clipped on? I am using OEM calipers and OEM pads. According to the instructions which came with the rear pads, you position both pads on the bracket and then slide the caliper over them. All I see is a spring on top of the inner pad.



      Just bled the system again and there is definitely a big improvement compared to yesterday. However, I am still not fully happy about the brake pedal travel. It is however more or less as before I changed the brakes.

      I am curious as to how much travel there is on other members' S40/V50s? Also, is it possible in any way, to adjust how much travel there is (sort of like adjusting the parking brake)?
      Last edited by Voldsom Volvo; 05-04-2012 at 08:23 AM.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    10. #10
      Moderator aldebaran's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Voldsom Volvo View Post
      Thanks, but there are no spring retainers on the rear pads, nor do I see any place on the rear caliper where the retainers would be clipped on? I am using OEM calipers and OEM pads. According to the instructions which came with the rear pads, you position both pads on the bracket and then slide the caliper over them. All I see is a spring on top of the inner pad.
      Yes, the inner pads with the spring should be on the piston side. Some aftermarket pads have wires and those clip around the notches near the ends of the pistons. You will see them once they extend far enough.

      Did you see any air bubbles coming out of the lines when you bled it this time? Did you clean the old brake grease out and reapply new grease?

      I've bled my brakes and changed the rear pads + rotors at the same time and the feel/travel is exactly the same as before. If it feels spongy, or there is a noticeable change in pedal travel to engage the brakes, something definitely went awry. I would suggest re-installing the pads.

    11. #11
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by aldebaran View Post
      Yes, the inner pads with the spring should be on the piston side. Some aftermarket pads have wires and those clip around the notches near the ends of the pistons. You will see them once they extend far enough.

      Did you see any air bubbles coming out of the lines when you bled it this time? Did you clean the old brake grease out and reapply new grease?

      I've bled my brakes and changed the rear pads + rotors at the same time and the feel/travel is exactly the same as before. If it feels spongy, or there is a noticeable change in pedal travel to engage the brakes, something definitely went awry. I would suggest re-installing the pads.
      Thanks Melvin.

      There was very little air coming out the second time I bled the brakes. Very negligible. The second time around, I had a friend pump the pedal a few times until pressure had built up - then while he kept pressure on the pedal, I opened the bleeder screw and once the transparent hose attached to the bleeder screw showed a full line of fluid, I closed the screw and then asked my friend to slowly release the pedal. Just to be safe, I re-bled every wheel twice, before moving on to the next wheel.

      I definitely think I did everything according to the book. I spent many hours cleaning the brackets and calipers free of rust and brake dust flakes. I even cleaned all 4 hubs so there are no rust spots at all.

      Also thoroughly cleaned bracket bolts and glider pins. I applied a tiny bit of silicone grease on the piston gasket rubber and obviously lubed up the glider pins with silicone grease as well.

      Once clean I applied a little bit of anti seize aluminum grease to the brackets (where the pads touch) as well as a tiny bit on the pads as well, again only where the pads touch the bracket.

      The car breaks well and I have spent a bit of time slowly breaking in the new pads/rotors. But I haven't been happy with the brake pedal travel for quite a while now (neither before or after the brake job). Perhaps it is because I have been driving a BMW sometimes, which has (IMO) much better and firmer brake feel.

      But I am still curious if there is any way of adjusting the initial brake pedal travel? And would also appreciate what members here experience in terms of pedal travel.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    12. #12
      Moderator aldebaran's Avatar
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      I agree, the brake "bite" isn't as sharp as a BMW (2-piston calipers up front?), but that's just the nature of our single-piston, sliding caliper design. I have another car with Brembos all around so I know exactly what you mean, those bite hard.
      You could upgrade the fronts to the Wilwood kit, which will definitely improve the feel. Maybe upgrade the brake lines to steel braided ones?

      As far as adjusting the initial brake travel...I'll leave it to someone else who has messed with the brake booster.

      I do feel the brakes after pressing down an inch or so. But it definitely feels spongier than monoblock calipers.
      Last edited by aldebaran; 05-04-2012 at 10:14 AM.

    13. #13
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      The BMW is an old 323i (E36) which is slower than the T5 but the engine is still a gem which spins and purrs like only a BMW straight six does. But more importantly I much prefer the brake feel to that of my V50 and there is definitely less initial pedal travel.

      As for the brake install and bleed method described, do you have any comments/criticism? It was my first time doing it, so I have been extra careful and meticulous, but you never know if you did something wrong or left something out.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    14. #14
      Moderator aldebaran's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Voldsom Volvo View Post
      As for the brake install and bleed method described, do you have any comments/criticism? It was my first time doing it, so I have been extra careful and meticulous, but you never know if you did something wrong or left something out.
      As far as the bleed procedure, it sounds right. Did you constantly check the master cylinder to top it off after bleeding each caliper?
      The pad install should be fine if you followed the enclosed instructions.

    15. #15
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by aldebaran View Post
      As far as the bleed procedure, it sounds right. Did you constantly check the master cylinder to top it off after bleeding each caliper?
      The pad install should be fine if you followed the enclosed instructions.
      I did indeed. It never went below the minimum marker.
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    16. #16
      Moderator aldebaran's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Voldsom Volvo View Post
      I did indeed. It never went below the minimum marker.
      Excellent

    17. #17
      Member EngTech's Avatar
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      Hard SS Lines will Cure that ! - from Viva
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    18. #18
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by EngTech View Post
      Hard SS Lines will Cure that ! - from Viva
      How so? Are you saying that my old soft lines are faulty? I checked for cracks but the hoses seem fine. How do SS lines do a better job?
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...

    19. #19
      Moderator tmtalpey's Avatar
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      SS lines don't do a "better" job, but they are more rigid internally and therefore give you a firmer pedal feel. However, pedal feel is also affected by pad type, pad clearance, rotor flatness, caliper design, dirt, etc etc. So don't expect a miracle from lines alone.
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    20. #20
      Junior Member Voldsom Volvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by tmtalpey View Post
      SS lines don't do a "better" job, but they are more rigid internally and therefore give you a firmer pedal feel. However, pedal feel is also affected by pad type, pad clearance, rotor flatness, caliper design, dirt, etc etc. So don't expect a miracle from lines alone.
      Thanks. I will definitely consider SS lines.

      I guess since I installed new OEM rotors and pads front and rear, cleaned and re-lubed calipers and brackets and bled the fluid, that the brake pedal feel would have improved. But so far, I feel no difference at all.

      Do you know if it is possible to adjust/reduce the initial pedal travel somehow?
      V50 T5 Summum Aut. MY05

      They don't make people like they used to...