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Jeff J:
I had complete brake failure going down long steep hill in my 1981 hatchback. I thought it might be brake fade & managed to drive home very slowly where I replaced all the fluid & bled the brakes. All seemed OK after short test drive. Next time we set off on a decent journey heard a horrible squealing noise which was caused by one of the callipers stuck on ( did not notice when I bled them). I have had the callipers refurbished professionally but on refitting them & bleeding the front brakes of air the pedal goes to the floor & callipers are not operating. I'm now confused as to whether the master cylinder is faulty or the callipers have not been refurbished properly. If the master cylinder fails do you loose all brakes, as I thought it was a dual system & it would only affect front or rear brakes. Does anyone know an easy way of testing the master cylinder or suggest alternative causes? Thanks.

There is a problem with the allegedly dual circuit brake system. I had a front caliper hose leak one side but lost ALL my brakes which shouldn't happen.  I have fixed the problem but have no confidence is the fail safe nature of the system.  The proportioning valve below the master cylinder is supposed to ensure that you get left with some brakes in the event of a single failure.  I think from your symptoms that you may have a master cylinder problem. Have you tried a power bleed? - I use a Gunson kit which uses air pressure from a tyre to force fluid through the system.  Garages have better kit to do this. If fluid bleeds out of the calipers and  they are fine. Don't forget to bleed the rear brakes too!  Good luck - Scotty

Jeff J:
Thanks Scotty the other thing I forgot to mention was that I was unsure which way up the callipers went (stupid I know but the old memory is not what it was) with the bleed nipple to the top it just pumps air all the time when bleeding, with the nipple at the bottom it pumps fluid. Not sure if this is another sign the master cylinder is u/s & gravity is helping pump the fluid.

Bleed nipple at the top!  Otherwise  you will get a pocket of air in the caliper  which means spongy brakes. Its definitely sounding like a master cylinder issue. As I said try a power bleed. Some people have reported success in getting air out of brake lines by holding the brake pedal down overnight with a stick jammed against the front seat.

Jeff J:
Thanks again, I think I will get a repair kit & do that before I try bleeding again & wasting time & fluid. I also thought I would replace the head gasket which is weeping water, while it is off the road but I am confused by this listing How do I tell if I have a 53 or a 57 HP engine. I thought 1256cc was the only factor needed. Another listing that shows a gasket the same shape as mine says type N or type S engines. Can you tell me the difference as a forum search did not throw anything up.


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