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1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 1:05 PM

I have no prior knowledge or in that fact any knowledge about cars other than routine maintenance...

Here's my problem when i recently went on a vacation i drove my honda about 1,000 miles there and back. I noticed upon returning that my brakes would go all the way to the floor and that it took longer to stop... such as a master cylinder leak... i asked my fiances uncle and he said that it was for sure a master cylinder problem i have to pump my brakes but even then it starts to break as usual but then sinks to the floor almost like it is loosing pressure... It eventually stops but i can feel the abs kicking which normally i obviously wouldn't normally feel... i want to make this repair myself but i hear that it is pretty tricky... with the brake line bleeding and such...

Also i noticed a squeeking sound in my front passenger side wheel could these be connected some how?

Being a college student working full time and living on my own i would like to make the repair myself and save some cash... Should i attempt it myself or just suck it up and go to the shop?

-Wes-

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#1

Re: 92 honda civic suspected master cylinder problem?

06/11/2009 1:12 PM

It probably isn't the place to start if you have done no real work on cars.
The squeaking is likely pads...the leak could be from a flexible hose, a connection or a seal.

Have you changed the pads yourself?
If answer is 'yes', then I'd say the necessary work should be within your capability.
If answer is 'no' I'd say do it with assistance from someone who has done this stuff before.

It's probably best to take off the calipers and check/replace the pads first.
There may be seals and other parts to change...you need to inspect everything especially all the flexible hoses, which can look fine but swell or seep under pressure.
It's not rocket science, but experience helps...
(You can save some time by skinning your knuckles before you start...joke)
Del

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#11
In reply to #1

Re: 92 honda civic suspected master cylinder problem?

06/12/2009 5:40 PM

Hello Del,

Is it possible to do your brakes and NOT skin your knuckles? I always did!

GA to you for an honest answer.

Take care.

bb

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#14
In reply to #1

Re: 92 honda civic suspected master cylinder problem?

06/22/2009 6:01 PM

thanks alot man...

and no i haven't done pads and rotors yet i think that i am just going to suck it up and take it to a shop... I will watch closely so if the problem should arise again i could do it thanks alot for all the advise

-Wes

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#2

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 2:15 PM

Welcome.

Have you checked the fluid level in the master yet? Id the front brake pads wear, the piston in the caliper will not retract. If the piston does not retract, the fluid level in the master cylinder will drop. If the fluid level drops sufficiently, the master cylinder will not have fluid to push to the front caliper piston out any further to stop the car well. You will feel a spongy brake pedal. The rears will still function normally, but have to do additional work to stop the entire car. That may cause wheel lockup. Thus activating the anti-lock system.

That sounds like the symptoms you described.

If your master is low, you need to remove the front wheels to inspect the lining thickness both inside and outside of the brake rotor. If this is not something you are not comfortable doing, GET HELP. It is an easy job, the second time. Good luck.

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#3
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Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 2:20 PM

It is an easy job, the second time..
Great comment, so true, first side 1 hour, second side 15 minutes
Del

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 2:25 PM

First job no brakes. Call someone knolwledgable and wait till tomorrow to have him pump the brakes three times.

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#10
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Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/12/2009 5:37 PM

Hello bob c,

I have bled brakes lots of times, starting by holding the 'jar' my Dad was pumping out into. Does anyone still bled brakes? My last car I had for ten years and although I did maintenance, I never needed to replenish any brake fluid.

GA to you Sir for a pretty good answer!

But, if the OP has to put more fluid in the Master, then they may as well put new shoes on as well?

bb

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/13/2009 8:44 PM

The world had become more aware of the problem of brake fluid absorbing moisture out of the air. As such, the gallon can of brake fluid that was always laying out at service stations has now been replaced with smaller sealed plastic bottles. I believe the rubber components have also gotten better. Bleeding brake fluid is still done by people every day. We have learned technique's to prevent having to bleed whenever we can.

But in vehicles that are subject to high speed, or hard driving conditions, yearly flushing of brake fluid is still done.

If you monitor the fluid level of the master cylinder, you will notice it drop over time as the disc brake pads wear. If you do not refill the master, when the master gets to only 3/4" of fluid, your brakes will probably need replacing. At that time if you use a "C" clamp to push the piston back into the caliper on both sides, the master will be full again.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/13/2009 9:20 PM

Hello bob c,

I thank you for you reply post!

I have used the 'C' clamp method before. It works. I have not driven for a long time but this thread sudden reminded me I used to have to bleed my brakes at least once a year. And of course that would have been because the rubber in the time I talk of, was not the best at keeping a seal?

Take care my friend....

bb

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#5

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 4:32 PM

ARE YOU GOING TO BET YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS ON GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME? DON'T... GET SOMONE WHO AT LEAST HAS DONE THIS BEFORE. MR. GUY

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#6

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 5:34 PM

The wheel squeak could be nothing but just that. Disk brakes are notorious for that. Ignore it and get to the main thing.

Low fluid level in the master means a leak, not necessarily in the master.

Nonetheless, the first place to look is the master. Fill the master and then repeatedly operate the breaks. If the area around the master is wet then the leak is in the master. Gently and carefully peel back the rubber boot and look for fluid there.

I am in the habit of rebuilding my master cylinders, kits are cheap, but I would not recommend such for a beginner. Masters do not cost that much.

On the other hand I do my own repairs because I do not trust anybody else to do my brake work.

If their is no indication of a master leak you need to raise the vehicle so you have easy access to inspect the area around each wheel cylinder. Again you are looking for a wet area.

If you raise that vehicle place stands under it before you slide any part of your body under it. Having a car fall on you will kill you.

Leaks are usually wheel cylinders or master cylinders.

If you don't see a wet area around either you need to examine both the hydraulic hoses and the metal piping. Sometimes a stone or something else will damage such but your problem is usually the master or wheel cylinders.

If you are familiar with handling tools and can maintain absolute cleanliness in handling and installing break parts you can do these repairs although in your case I would not recommend rebuilding a master cylinder or a wheel cylinder insofar as honing of the cylinders is part of the operation and before you attempt such you need to get some experience just changing out the parts.

As to lowering the level of fluid in the master if a wheel cylinder does not return, forget that. The difference is very small insofar as the cylinder is full, even when not under pressure, and pressurizing it does not involve that much fluid movement.

Bleeding a system after repair is not that hard and is best done with two people so that while one is stepping on the brake the other is bleeding the line and observing when there is no longer any air coming out with the break fluid.

There are tools to do bleeding by yourself but I don't like them and prefer somebody step on the brake while I open the bleed valve and watch what comes out.

Again! Make sure the car is supported, and level, on proper stands designed for that purpose.

But this is no place to go into all the details. Providing you are comfortable with tools it should be no problem.

The main thing is to get the book for that car at an auto supply house which will have the steps and procedures for the brake work set out. Again, cleanliness in handling break parts is essential because the slightest amount of grit in a hydraulic cylinder will cause trouble.

You might also get hold of literature on cylinder rebuilding in general. Also on brake bleeding procedures and how to ensure that all the air is out of the system, the purpose in bleeding since fluid is not compressible whereas air is which is what makes a brake pedal spongy when it should feel like a steel rod.

The car repair book will explain how to inspect disk pads and what their tolerance is as well as what a disk should look like or when it should be machined or replaced.

Again, unless you are absolutely comfortable with tools and able to keep new parts clean in assembling, let a brake shop do the work. There is nothing as frightening, or as dangerous, as losing brake pressure while driving and stopping.

j.

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#7

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/11/2009 11:06 PM

I would suggest that you NOT drive the car until you do the following: (1) as stated, check the fluid level in the reservoir. (2) If it's low, then you should THOROUGHLY examine the car front to back for leaks. At each wheel (calipers, hoses, inside the drums, wheel cylinders), under the body along the lines and related components, and at the rear of the master cylinder where it bolts to the firewall, where the pushrod from the pedal slips into the master cylinder piston.

If you don't see any leaks, I would suggest having an experienced technician take over. However, if you want to try the next step, you could replace the master cylinder, making sure you bleed the m/c, and then bleed all the wheels (in order, right rear, left rear, right front, left front).

Again, if you don't find a leak after the initial examination, it would be best to have a trained tech help you.

Please update us as to the outcome.

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#8

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/12/2009 12:40 PM

Although disk brakes are much easier to work on than drum brakes, I would suggest finding someone that is experienced with changing brakes to work with you before attempting brake repairs. Getting a good manual, like Chiltons, specifically for your vehicle is imperative. See if you can do the work yourself with the experienced person supervising and guiding you. That way you may be able to do the work yourself the next time. Brakes are nothing to fool around with if you don't have experience.

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#9

Re: 1992 Honda Civic - Master Cylinder Problem?

06/12/2009 2:04 PM

To posters #5 & 6.

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With a pad lining thickness of 5/16" x 4 lining surfaces, you will have moved a column of brake fluid 2" x 1 & 1/4" out of the master cylinder by the time the wear sensors have started to touch. What do you thing happens to the fluid level in that master?

If the op has not been watching his fluid level regularly, the low fluid may be the first warning.

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