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Help! Master Cylinder - Brake Problem??


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I have a 2001 Honda Accord EX with almost 200,000 miles. I just purchased it about 4 months ago for my son, It is my understanding the previous owner worked on it himself. Out of the blue, it would not pick up from a stop light. It seemed to change gears fine for the 30-35 miles I could get up to, but when you let off the gas it would just stop, cold. It felt like the emergency brake was stuck on. I drove it home and it sat and smoked in the driveway.


The next day I took it to the shop, but the problem would not replicate. Until of course, I drove it home, got almost there, and it started again. I pulled in to the driveway and there was the white smoke coming from underneath again (middle to front area) but the temperature gauge did not show it was overheating. I let it sit overnight, and I took it back to the shop. Again, could not get it to replicate the problem, so I left it there.


As they were pulling it in to the bay to check it over, it did it! They too are stumped. No one has seen anything like it. It does not feel like the transmission, it feels like something in the brakes. I am not a mechanic so I will relay what was told to me -- (They) "removed the hoses from the calipers and only air was released, no fluid came out." They wanted to start by changing the hoses at a cost of almost $200 but cannot guarantee that will fix it. One of the mechanics asked if I knew the history of the master cylinder because he read on a forum that if installed incorrectly it could cause this type of problem, but all I know is that the owner did most of the repairs himself.


I do not want to play the $200 guessing game so thought I would put it to a few forums and see if anything sounded familiar to anyone. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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During the slow down does the motor bog down?


Checking all four calipers would be prudent if you suspect them. Oh and an improperly installed Brake Master Cylinder results in spongy braking, not what sounds like dragging calipers. Give the system a good bleed, this way you can flush out old fluid and be sure air isn't in the calipers (which may very well NOT be for the reason I stated all ready).

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  • 4 months later...

It is now at its third mechanic. The last one put all new hoses and bled the system. On the way home, all four wheels locked up!


The new mechanic drove it back and forth with no problems, put it up on the lift, noticed four new calipers installed, all wheels turned fine, could find no issues. Left it for about twenty minutes to help a customer, came back, all four wheels locked up!


Removed one of the lines, fluid shot out, re-attached, and then all wheels spun again. He too is scratching his head. We decided to change the master cylinder, and then I read this on another forum. EXACT SAME DESCRIPTION AS WHATS GOING ON HERE. No resolution was ever acknowledged, but changing the MC didn't seem to fix it. Here's his account, and some responses:


"So last weekend I had to put a new master cylinder in. Remanufactured Nissin unit. Put it in, bled everything, good to go. Then today, I got into a left turn lane to go over my uncles to help a friend drag car before I have to go to work. Got into the turn lane, hit the brakes and got behind some cars in front of me. And the brake pedal seemed really stiff. I let off of it and the car of ours work on his didn't move. I was like huh? And then the light turned green, and I drove, and I felt underpowered, like the brakes were dragging. So I had to go up this hill to get to my uncles house and I was seriously ***** out and was only doing 45 mph. Turned into my uncles and my front brakes were smoking. Well mainly the left. So Brad, our friend, had a lower clearance jack, and we jacked it up, and I opened the bleeder on the right front caliper and the brake fluid came shooting out. And then I could finally get the wheel to turn while it was in the air. Same for the left. Then I went back and bled both real quick, and went back home and parked the car."



1. did you bench blead the master cylinder?


2. you need to adjust the throw on the brake pedal. grab a haynes etc so that you can adjust it to the correct vacuum settings.


3. Bleed it and adjust the plunger for correct clearances.


Response: It was bench bled. and we never touched the plunger or anything, like moved it when the old one was taken off.


3 Response Back: The plunger can be out of wack from factory, there is certain distances it needs to be, I'll see if I can screen shot the page on the PDF. I would imagine if it was offset then the brakes could be weak or over-strong.


I am racking up mechanics bills. Can anyone tell me about something they know has worked. It has been undrivable for months!

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Never heard of this prob, so no I have no solution.


You realize you can scratch your own head for free, you are capable of fixing this yourself but I am not in a position to tell you how to spend your money.


Sorry, I haven't been to a mechanic in decades.


I would be curious if pulling the ABS fuse and bleeding off any pressure in the ABS Accumulator would have any effect on the problem.


I would also be curious if disconnecting the vacuum assist line running to the Brake Booster would have any effect on the problem.


Since you're not doing the work yourself I guess I'll never know the answer to those questions. And you'll probably never know what the problem is since I guess whichever mechanic fixes it doesn't have to tell you what he or she did to fix it.

Edited by James Matteu
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