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No fluid when bleeding front driver side brakes

DustinCoast

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1993 EXPLORER XLT V6
So we replaced the pads, and later the calipers. About 3 weeks later the driver's side tire locked up/caliper seized.

I took both calipers off to be safe, sprayed both with PB BLAST, let soak, wiped off the gunk. Cleaned everything with Brake Cleaner, then sprayed the calipers with heavy duty silicone. I cracked the bleeder valve and squeezed the calipers back into position, and everything was fine it seemed although the brakes were spongy.

Two days later the tire locked up again and was smoking, and we had the warranty on the calipers so I went to replace the driver's side again and observed the reservoir (master cylinder) had ran dry. (Never noticed any leakage from the Banjo Bolt but there must have been some?)

Now, we don't know what to do except replace the master cylinder, because the brake lines are good (or so we suspect) but when we bleed the front valves on the driver's side, initially it bled well. A couple more bleeds to complete the job, and no more fluid was coming out at all.

We read to take the steel lines off of the master cylinder, place our fingers over the ends, and push the brake pedal to the floor. Fluid came out one port side of the master cylinder, but not the other...is this right port the side leading to the driver's side?

Pumping to our hearts content resolved nothing prior to this removal of steel lines, and nothing after. The fluid level in the reservoir never changed, and further attempts to bleed resulted in still no fluid from the valve.

So now? Replace the master cylinder? Try to decipher if it's the brake line on the driver's side? If so, how do you remove the lines on this 93 XLT?
 


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DustinCoast

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Desperate for help, we live 15 miles from work with limited bus services along the coast where we live.
 




Kesp4.0

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Check the rubber brake line that runs between the caliper and the steel line (located behind the coil spring bucket). Often when that rubber line fails the caliper will sieze. Typically it's the rubber that collapses internally due to age/wear. They're inexpensive and easy to replace and they probably should be changed anyway
 




410Fortune

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Did you bench bleed the new master cylinder prior to installation?
On the master cylinder one port feeds both front brakes, the other feeds the rear brakes
If a new master cylinder is not bench bled before being hooked up to the brake lines it is very easy to depress the plunger too far and you can blow out the seals inside the master cyl

If you remove the bleeder from the drivers side brake caliper completely, does fluid come out? It should.
 




shran

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Another area to check is the RABS valve on the frame, near the fuel filter. I had a leak there on one truck and it plugged up on another, causing issues similar to what you're seeing.
 




DustinCoast

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Did you bench bleed the new master cylinder prior to installation?
On the master cylinder one port feeds both front brakes, the other feeds the rear brakes
If a new master cylinder is not bench bled before being hooked up to the brake lines it is very easy to depress the plunger too far and you can blow out the seals inside the master cyl

If you remove the bleeder from the drivers side brake caliper completely, does fluid come out? It should.

I did not replace the master cylinder, however, I've read that I incorrectly tested it. When we took off both steel lines, and then depressed the pedal down and held, we should have tightened the master cylinder fittings back down with the pedal depressed. So now air has been reintroduced into the master cylinder.

Now I'm going to properly expel the air from the master cylinder, before bleeding all four tires in proper order to see if this resolves the issues.

I do believe the brake lines are good. When I originally changed the pads and calipers, I did not tighten the banjo bolts down enough so fluid was leaking out. This time, I saw no leaks but I lost all the fluid in my reservoir. None of the brake lines were wet with fluid in the front, I did not check the rear.
 




DustinCoast

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Another area to check is the RABS valve on the frame, near the fuel filter. I had a leak there on one truck and it plugged up on another, causing issues similar to what you're seeing.


So when bleeding the entire system again, do I start by properly expelling the air from the master cylinder since I didn't the first time, then bleed the RR, LR, RABS VALVE (as long as I can locate it), RF, LF.
 




shran

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I don't believe the RABS valve has a bleeder on it. Do you have any ABS stuff under the hood? It would be near the power steering pump if you do. 91 and 92 Explorers only have RABS, 1994 has 4 wheel ABS but I'm not sure on the '93 MY.

In any case...yes... get the air out of your master cylinder first. You may need to get a bench bleeding hose kit and do it that way, then reconnect the steel lines and bleed in the order you posted.

What method are you using to bleed? I use two people, one person pumps the pedal three times and holds it down. The other person opens the valve and closes it when the pedal hits the floor and is held there. Repeat until you've got clean fluid and no bubbles. It helps a lot to use a piece of clear tubing on the bleeder and a catch bottle... that way you can watch for bubbles flowing through the tubing and don't make a mess.
 




DustinCoast

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I don't believe the RABS valve has a bleeder on it. Do you have any ABS stuff under the hood? It would be near the power steering pump if you do. 91 and 92 Explorers only have RABS, 1994 has 4 wheel ABS but I'm not sure on the '93 MY.

In any case...yes... get the air out of your master cylinder first. You may need to get a bench bleeding hose kit and do it that way, then reconnect the steel lines and bleed in the order you posted.

What method are you using to bleed? I use two people, one person pumps the pedal three times and holds it down. The other person opens the valve and closes it when the pedal hits the floor and is held there. Repeat until you've got clean fluid and no bubbles. It helps a lot to use a piece of clear tubing on the bleeder and a catch bottle... that way you can watch for bubbles flowing through the tubing and don't make a mess.

The 93 has 4ABS in the fuse diagram, so yes it has ABS.

The bleeding technique is done with two people, however, I had been told that pumping the brakes three times during bleeding - and then holding the pedal down - that the pumping action can actually introduce air into the line.

If this is incorrect, then I'll use this pumping technique when bleeding all four tires instead of simply holding the pedal down.
 




shran

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I've bled brakes probably hundreds of times using the pumping technique and have never had an issue with additional air being introduced into the system... the theory behind it is that often you have a substantial amount of air somewhere and you want as much pressure as possible to blow the air out thus the three pumps. One pump may not build enough pressure in the system to force air and fluid out.
 




DustinCoast

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I've bled brakes probably hundreds of times using the pumping technique and have never had an issue with additional air being introduced into the system... the theory behind it is that often you have a substantial amount of air somewhere and you want as much pressure as possible to blow the air out thus the three pumps. One pump may not build enough pressure in the system to force air and fluid out.

So the master cylinder bleed went great yesterday, had assistant hold down pedal after I took off the steel lines, then with pedal still depressed I tightened the steel lines back into place. Repeated process until the air was out of the master cylinder.

Then bled the front tires, and lots of air came out of the driver's side during bleeding. The brakes felt excellent, the front tire bleeds went great, and the rotor had some resistance on the passenger front but would release after a few moments.

I had no time to bleed the rear first before the front, so I drove it and it felt great. No issues on a 30 Mile RT. Then today, we go to leave and immediately are met with what feels like pulling on the driver's side. Before long, the driver's side front is smoking again!

I'm at a loss.... Is this my fault for not bleeding all four tires after getting the air out of the master cylinder?
 




DustinCoast

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So we rebled the front valves because we were stuck in a parking lot with the front drivers side tire smoking, and huge air pockets came out both sides during the bleed. However, there is still resistance on the driver's side when trying to spin the wheel freely. Any ideas?

I went ahead and bought a gallon of Dot 3, so that we can bleed ALL four tires today.
 




shran

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Holy crap, a gallon? I'm not sure the whole system holds more than about a quart... but knock yourself out :chug:

If you're still getting air, there's still either air in the system that needs to be bled out or it's entering the system from somewhere (unlikely, you'd have a leak and see fluid at that spot.) Since it just seems to be that wheel, I would be starting from that caliper and working your way up to the master cylinder - there's got to be something damaged or rusted up or whatever that's preventing the caliper from releasing.

When everything is cooled off, I would see if you can compress the caliper piston without any resistance. I would be tempted to replace that brake hose too. Clean out the banjo bolt really well.

Based on my experience with this I have my suspicions about the issue being ABS related but I think you need to rule out a bad caliper, brake hose and proper bleeding procedures first. Usually if you've got air in the system, you just have spongy brakes... but it depends on where that air is located in the system.
 




MrQ

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Easiest way to check if it's ABS is pull the ABS relay in the power distribution box under the hood. This will disable the ABS and illuminate the light on the dash. Drive it that way and see if it locks up again.

The other side of this is that the ABS pump may have a blockage in it and may require replacement. Even with the ABS pulled fluid still flows through that pump.
 








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