Brake hydraulics, when to replace?

Old March 14th, 2010, 10:43 PM
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Brake hydraulics, when to replace?

After completing a nearly 300 mile round-trip in Morty from Phoenix to Sedona, AZ, I started thinking about the brakes on my 98. Last April, I replaced all the rear hardware, drums, shoes, and wheel cylinders.
On the front, I just replaced the pads and wheel bearings. The rotors were in excellent shape, with no grooves or other abnormalities. I bled the entire system thoroughly. The brakes work very well. I inspected the flexible brake hoses, calipers, and the outside of the master cylinder. I didn't see anything unusual. No swelling, signs of leakage, cracks, etc. I have no idea if calipers or master cylinder have ever been replaced. The master cylinder looks very clean.

So my question is, should brake hydraulics that old be left alone, or should they be replaced due to age at some point? Even if they look good and work properly, could they suddenly fail with no warning? Would anyone like to share their experiences with such critical parts?

Thanks!
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Old March 15th, 2010, 05:03 AM
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I think you worry too much!

It sounds like you've either replaced or thoroughly inspected every part of your brake system. What's left to fail? I mean, you might get hit by a meteorite tomorrow, too, and then it won't matter what condition your brakes were in!
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jaunty75 View Post
I think you worry too much!

It sounds like you've either replaced or thoroughly inspected every part of your brake system. What's left to fail? I mean, you might get hit by a meteorite tomorrow, too, and then it won't matter what condition your brakes were in!
Yeah, I'll keep an eye on them. It's funny, you hear about brakes going out on cars all the time. In my experience, I've seen only one failure of a hydraulic component in 15 years. And it was a front right caliper on a Honda!

Of course if the sky suddenly gets dark or really bright, I won't worry about anything anymore.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by henryk8398 View Post
And it was a front right caliper on a Honda!
Yep, it can happen to anyone. I DO take comfort in the fact that even my two old cars have dual brake systems, which I think has to be up there among the greatest safety innovations in the history of the automobile. While you can always get one failure, to get two simultaneously on the two sides of the system is about as likely as...well...getting hit by that meteorite.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:46 AM
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I take it you have inspected the rear brake hose also... It is often forgotten since it is out of sight.
I NEED to replace mine since it looks original and is cracked.

Check the metal lines for severe corrosion.

Usually, calipers and wheel cyl's will weep a bit before they "go", so if they visually look good, then they should be.

Only sudden brake issues I ever had were with master cyl's that let the pedal drop to the floor. Usually, pumping them got the car to stop (kind of a std prius type of brake action.)
When that happens, change the MC immediately.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:48 AM
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Its not until a am dealing with a car that has been sitting many years that I start to worrie about it. Drive the car and and flush the system on a semi- regular basis (30-40K) and it will go forever.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady72nRob71 View Post

Usually, calipers and wheel cyl's will weep a bit before they "go", so if they visually look good, then they should be.

Only sudden brake issues I ever had were with master cyl's that let the pedal drop to the floor. Usually, pumping them got the car to stop (kind of a std prius type of brake action.)
When that happens, change the MC immediately.
That's exactly the type of information I'm looking for. I'll just inspect everything regularly. I haven't checked the rear brake hose lately, so I'll definitely have a look when I'm changing the oil on the diff.

Thanks!
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Old March 15th, 2010, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by henryk8398 View Post
That's exactly the type of information I'm looking for. I'll just inspect everything regularly. I haven't checked the rear brake hose lately, so I'll definitely have a look when I'm changing the oil on the diff.

Thanks!
On the rear wheel cylinders, pull the little pushrod out of the rubber boot and look for wetness. Sometimes a small leak will be captured inside the boot and will not leave a visible wet spot on the backing plate.

Also, every time I do disk brakes, I replace the rubber o-rings in the caliper ears, as a minimum. Usually I just get a complete caliper mounting hardware kit that includes the bushings and sometimes the bolts. Use silicone grease on the o-rings when assembling.
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