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Thread: No brakes!!!

  1. #1
    DonTom
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    No brakes!!!

    Today, we were going south on highway 101. Tom was driving. A van cut in front of us (later discovered a complete tire was in the middle of his lane in front of him, which he had to avoid in a split second).

    Tom was driving the 97 Sebring. He jammed on the brake, the car slowed down a lot and then something broke and the brake pedal went to the floor, and very little braking power. Tom was able to switch lanes in time to avoid an accident. The car then made a lot of noise and we took the very first exit. Even more noise when braking.

    At the first place we could stop, I checked the brake fluid. It was low, but neither section was empty. So then I assume all that happened was a brake pad broke apart somehow.

    We were only a few miles from home, so I (we switched drivers after the stop) drove it back here, making all types of noise on the way.

    Sure enough, it was the outer front left wheel brake pad that was in pieces and the rotor was very chewed up by the rivets.

    It has been a while since the front brake pads were replaced in the Sebring, but the car has not been driven much! The old brakes pads have 30,000 miles on them (I just checked my records) but that was in Nov 2002. There were no symptoms of anything being wrong with the brakes until this emergency stop.

    I never had this happen before where a brake pad will fall apart when you need it the most.

    BTW, the other brake pads (front right) looked like they were getting near the time to be changed, but still had a reasonable amount of pad left on each side.

    Anyway, today, I changed both front rotors and both front pads and all is back to normal. I will check the rear drum brakes tomorrow or sometime very soon.

    Anybody else experience a brake pad failure like this one? It was very scary to lose brakes like that in an emergency situation.

    -Don- SSF, CA
    Last edited by DonTom; 04-17-2009 at 08:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Ah, another fine Chrysler product! (Or maybe Chinese? Where did the pads come from?)

  3. #3
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Ah, another fine Chrysler product! (Or maybe Chinese? Where did the pads come from?)
    Back in the 1960's to 1970's, Chrysler was considered to be the vehicle that used the best hardware. But that was before they were all built down in Mexico!

    But none of the replacement brake pads were Chrysler. Perhaps that was the problem!!! I never get brake pads from a dealer and I've replaced the pads in the Sebring twice. I normally buy brake pads in the middle price range. I don't buy the cheapest and I don't buy the most expensive.

    I think the old pads, as well as the new pads, came from the good old USA. They always have a name that I recognize, such as
    Raybestos. The box for the pads I purchased yesterday is already outside in the trash, so I am not real sure if they are made in the USA. I didn't check for that. But I doubt if they came from China!

    However, I usually use made in China rotors. I am willing to use the cheapest rotors I can find at the first auto parts place that I go to, but I am in the habit of buying pads in the mid range of what's available.

    I think this is a rather freak incident. And perhaps it had something to do with the pads being seven years old. But I never experienced anything like this before.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    "But I never experienced anything like this before."

    Me neither... so far!

    The worst brake-related failure I ever experienced was when I was in high school and driving my mom's '83 Olds 98. The vacuum booster failed and pedal effort suddenly increased severalfold - which was fun for a 16 year old new driver to experience!

  5. #5
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    I've done some brake jobs and seen pads that had cracks in them, or small chips on the corners. Have never seen one fall apart though.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  6. #6
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    I've done some brake jobs and seen pads that had cracks in them, or small chips on the corners. Have never seen one fall apart though.
    I didn't know it could even happen until yesterday!

    I have ran brakes down in my Jeep to the point that no pad was left at all, and it still had no symptoms. Not even any noise. That was last summer. If I didn't decide to look, I would never have known I had only metal to metal on both of the front brakes. That seemed to brake as well as my new pads & rotors! Really could not tell the difference!

    It seems only GM has a good advance warning system. In my Saturn (several weeks ago) , the brakes made some noise (that went away while braking as it it is supposed to) and I drove it several more days and when I got around to replacing the pads, it was just in time to be replaced well before the rivets (or the rotor damage that comes with).

    But in this Sebring, there must have been enough pad left to break apart (or should I say brake apart ?) to make a large difference in pedal travel (until the brake fluid takes up the extra space). It could have led to a serious accident! Almost did. I think no pads (as with the Jeep) would have been a lot safer!

    -Don- SSF

  7. #7
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    "But I never experienced anything like this before."

    Me neither... so far!

    The worst brake-related failure I ever experienced was when I was in high school and driving my mom's '83 Olds 98. The vacuum booster failed and pedal effort suddenly increased severalfold - which was fun for a 16 year old new driver to experience!


    In one of my older cars (IIRC, it was the 1973 Dodge Cornet Custom that Tom owned when we met in 1974). But it was a good ten years later . . .had an intermittent brake master cylinder! It was scary, because the pedal would go down to the floor (and I mean all they way) and have no brake power at all. Much like the symptoms of a ton of air being in all the brake lines. The scary part is that it would only do it once every two months or so and I wasn't sure what was wrong. The brakes would feel normal all the time until it happened. But after replacing the master cylinder, the problem never returned.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  8. #8
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    Sounds like an age-related failure -- old pads in a car that doesn't get driven much -- they (or the adhesive holding it to the steel backer plate) probably dry-rotted.

    Chip H.

  9. #9
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Tom was driving the 97 Sebring. He jammed on the brake, the car slowed down a lot and then something broke and the brake pedal went to the floor, and very little braking power. Tom was able to switch lanes in time to avoid an accident. The car then made a lot of noise and we took the very first exit. Even more noise when braking.



    Sure enough, it was the outer front left wheel brake pad that was in pieces and the rotor was very chewed up by the rivets.


    I never had this happen before where a brake pad will fall apart when you need it the most.

    Anyway, today, I changed both front rotors and both front pads and all is back to normal. I will check the rear drum brakes tomorrow or sometime very soon.
    I am a bit puzzled, Don, I have never seen or heard of disk brake pads that had rivets retaining the pad material. This has only been used, in my (UK) experience, to retain the brake shoes in drum brakes. All disk brake pads I have come across had the material bonded to the backing plates. Is this something particular to your car, have you come across this on other US ve-hickles, or, has someone, in the past, rivetted brake material to the backing plates of your front disk brakes instead of fitting OE pads?

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  10. #10
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    I am a bit puzzled, Don, I have never seen or heard of disk brake pads that had rivets retaining the pad material. This has only been used, in my (UK) experience, to retain the brake shoes in drum brakes. All disk brake pads I have come across had the material bonded to the backing plates. Is this something particular to your car, have you come across this on other US ve-hickles, or, has someone, in the past, rivetted brake material to the backing plates of your front disk brakes instead of fitting OE pads?

    I have seen both, but here in the USA for the pads to have rivets are the MOST common by far. All my cars have riveted brake pads. I would have thought riveted would be better to avoid such a problem as this! Maybe I will look for bonded for now on. Bonded are supposed to last longer and do less damage to rotors when they wear down. Now, I wonder if riveted have any advantage over bonded! In fact, I think the bonded brake pads are usually cheaper than the riveted.

    It's been years since I have seen a bonded brake pad. I am not even sure if they are still available over here!

    I am surprised that you don't see riveted brake pads in the UK. But almost everything is a bit different there. I mean it's even as hard to find a car there which has an automatic tranny as it is somewhat difficult to find a stick shift car here. Is it that we are more lazy over here or is it because gasoline is so much more expensive over there?

    -Don- SSF, CA

  11. #11
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    Sounds like an age-related failure -- old pads in a car that doesn't get driven much -- they (or the adhesive holding it to the steel backer plate) probably dry-rotted.

    Chip H.
    These were riveted on brake pads that fell apart!

    -Don-

  12. #12
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    When I ran a shop, I always did the brake jobs that came in. I'm not much account on many systems, I can get by but don't have the talent say for tuning valves by ear.


    I've seen pads lose their rivets and fail catastrophically. When you said the car isn't driven much was the clue. What happened was the rivets rusted a bit and in a heat cycle cracked and failed. One goes and the others follow right away. Rivets or bonded it makes no difference. Both are good. I generally prefer bonded for slightly more braking surface and go with drilled rotors as well as grooves bonded into the braking material to cut down on gas release under heavy braking. This will give you a firmer brake pedal.

    Bonded can fail the same way with a slight rust film forming between the braking pad and shoe or pad backing plate. Then under the right conditions, the braking surface debonds and the pedal drops drastically. Generally, pads are not rebuilt but shoes are.
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  13. #13
    Gee, you stole my thunder on my brake story. 1963 Impala that I started driving in 1974. Had 23,000 miles on it (had been my great-aunt's. Got it then broke her hip). I'd push the brake pedal and nothing would happen (another reason to have the emergency brake on the floor!). I'd tell my dad, he'd drive it and nothing would happen to him. Finally I told him I wasn't driving it again until the brakes were fixed. He drove it to work, drove it to Rotary and everything was fine. Drove it over to the repair shop and as he's getting ready to stop it inside, the brakes failed on him. FINALLY he believed me. And yes, it was the master cylinder.
    I'm going quackers!

  14. #14
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    I've seen pads lose their rivets and fail catastrophically. When you said the car isn't driven much was the clue. What happened was the rivets rusted a bit and in a heat cycle cracked and failed. One goes and the others follow right away. Rivets or bonded it makes no difference. Both are good. I generally prefer bonded for slightly more braking surface and go with drilled rotors as well as grooves bonded into the braking material to cut down on gas release under heavy braking. This will give you a firmer brake pedal.

    Bonded can fail the same way with a slight rust film forming between the braking pad and shoe or pad backing plate. Then under the right conditions, the braking surface debonds and the pedal drops drastically. Generally, pads are not rebuilt but shoes are.

    Sounds right, because the Sebring was left in NV for years and was rarely used. We have too many vehicles. Seven if we count the RV. A few more if we count motorcycles.

    But we now use the Sebring a lot and left our two Mustangs (1999 Convertible & 2002 hardtop) in NV

    I wonder why they don't do BOTH, bonded and riveted. That should reduce the odds of that ever happening.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  15. #15
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    It's been years since I have seen a bonded brake pad. I am not even sure if they are still available over here!

    I am surprised that you don't see riveted brake pads in the UK. But almost everything is a bit different there. I mean it's even as hard to find a car there which has an automatic tranny as it is somewhat difficult to find a stick shift car here. Is it that we are more lazy over here or is it because gasoline is so much more expensive over there?
    Drum brake shoes, yes rivets are quite common. Disk pads I have never seen an example of riveted pads. Looks like this is another little difference to file away for future reference.

    Automatics are more common now, over here, than they used to be but are still very much in a minority. Personally I've driven automatics since my late twenties/early thirties when I did a knee in playing ice hockey. I stilll drive a stick shift occasionally, but only for fun and for short distances, when I get the chance. I was tempted by a manual shift car some years back but, luckily, tried pumping the clutch for a short while and my knee still would not take it.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    I am a bit puzzled, Don, I have never seen or heard of disk brake pads that had rivets retaining the pad material. This has only been used, in my (UK) experience, to retain the brake shoes in drum brakes. All disk brake pads I have come across had the material bonded to the backing plates. Is this something particular to your car, have you come across this on other US ve-hickles, or, has someone, in the past, rivetted brake material to the backing plates of your front disk brakes instead of fitting OE pads?
    Riveted disc brakes pads are, to the best of my knowledge, a US-only phenomenon. In the rest of the world integrally-moulded pads are the norm.

    Note the term 'integrally-moulded', not 'bonded'. Although there is an adhesive layer between the friction material & the backplate, the friction material shape is formed in situ - the backplate is positioned in the moulding press, the die cavity is filled with friction material in powder form & the material is then compacted to form the pad. You'll also notice that there are holes, typically around 10mm diameter, in the backplate, so that spigots are formed in the friction material to act as a safeguard in the event of bond failure.

  17. #17
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    Riveted disc brakes pads are, to the best of my knowledge, a US-only phenomenon. In the rest of the world integrally-moulded pads are the norm.
    Do you have any idea why?

    -Don- SF. CA

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Do you have any idea why?
    The only explanation I can think of is that the US friction material manufacturers didn't have a material which was compatible with the moulding process.

    For drum brakes the situation is reversed - the first bonded drum brake application was Chrysler's 'cycle-bonded' shoes in 1949. It took until the 1960s for bonding to be really accepted in Europe & even into the 1980s the German manufacturers still preferred riveted shoes.

  19. #19
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    The only explanation I can think of is that the US friction material manufacturers didn't have a material which was compatible with the moulding process.

    For drum brakes the situation is reversed - the first bonded drum brake application was Chrysler's 'cycle-bonded' shoes in 1949. It took until the 1960s for bonding to be really accepted in Europe & even into the 1980s the German manufacturers still preferred riveted shoes.
    I think we can still get both, riveted and bonded, for both shoes and pads, here in the USA. But I have not asked for either. I have not seen bonded for years, in either pads or shoes and I have done several brake jobs in the last few years (on six different cars). Even if bonded are available here, they must not be nearly as common as riveted.

    -Don- SF, CA

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