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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

My 166 has been in my local (old school) mechanics for the last few weeks.
This particular saga started with the handbrake cable snapping, but I continued to use the car.

After about a week the front calliper seized and I was going nowhere.
I took the car to my mechanic and he replaced one of the callipers as he was unable to reset the piston, he also replace the short brake lines and the pads.
He was however unable to bleed all the air from the system.
The brakes worked but the peddle travel did not feel right and did not inspire confidence.
However after about 200 miles the brakes jammed on again and I was stranded again.

So back to the mechanic. He tried bleeding the air again but again to no avail. He now believes that the brake master cylinder needs replacing.

So I have 2 questions:

1. Obviously I am reluctant to give the go ahead to have the master replaced if it turns out to be something else, I don't want to throw good money after bad. Has anybody else had similar issues ? Is this the correct fix ?

2. Does anyone know where I can pick up a master cylinder at a reasonable price ?
(I have spotted a seal replacement kit master cylinder for around €17 on ebay, are they any good or a waste of money ?)

Afak my model is ABS only.

Any advice or suggestions I would be grateful for. This has already cost me a packet :mad:

Thanks in advance, AC.

P.S. I am based in Republic of Ireland
 

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Hi everyone,

My 166 has been in my local (old school) mechanics for the last few weeks.
This particular saga started with the handbrake cable snapping, but I continued to use the car.

After about a week the front calliper seized and I was going nowhere.
I took the car to my mechanic and he replaced one of the callipers as he was unable to reset the piston, he also replace the short brake lines and the pads.
He was however unable to bleed all the air from the system.
The brakes worked but the peddle travel did not feel right and did not inspire confidence.
However after about 200 miles the brakes jammed on again and I was stranded again.

So back to the mechanic. He tried bleeding the air again but again to no avail. He now believes that the brake master cylinder needs replacing.

So I have 2 questions:

1. Obviously I am reluctant to give the go ahead to have the master replaced if it turns out to be something else, I don't want to throw good money after bad. Has anybody else had similar issues ? Is this the correct fix ?

2. Does anyone know where I can pick up a master cylinder at a reasonable price ?
(I have spotted a seal replacement kit master cylinder for around €17 on ebay, are they any good or a waste of money ?)

Afak my model is ABS only.

Any advice or suggestions I would be grateful for. This has already cost me a packet :mad:

Thanks in advance, AC.

P.S. I am based in Republic of Ireland
Dear Air Con,
Eye too um auld skool.....But as sure as the brain bone is connected tay the knee bone eye fur wan cannae see the connection between the hawnbrake cable snapping and awe yer woes.

IF he wiz auld shool like me he wood huv stripped the caliper doon an freed it un IF necessary noo seals.

My wife and ony o the kids cannae bleed the blakes butt eye cun.

Needs must a long long time ago. Only wance in awe those yaers can eye racall no bean able tay bleed ra brakes wie pushing the blake pedal BUTT Gunsons Eazibleed did the joab and normal service restored.

1 Is the million dollar ? and withoot a crystal maze hard tay answer.BUTT eyed go fur freeing aff awe the calipers furst.
2 That is guid BUTT IF and only IF the master clynder boar is no warped and worn etc.IF no its the way tay day it.

.3 AS FARAZ AH KEN...afak....awe wan sex sex's ur ABS......Therein cood be a worry....ONLY finding oot by proper investigation will reveal the answer.

My years o experience is that master cylinders usually wear and allow the pedal tay flood as the brake frood is by passing the seal and no pressurising the system. Eye um however open tay currection.

did ewe buy it noo..That's the only way these corrs costa furtune unles yer facelift xenons go.

Awe ra best fray the union of the county cooncils that is El Scotia.

Pomeo
 

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It's hard to say for sure, but at 12 years old, it's likely that things are starting to wear, so a seal kit for the master is proably a waste of effort given that a lot of the cost is labour for that job. As Pom, says, the usual issues with the master is it leaks fluid as a first symptom, then starts letting in air.

Jammed on brakes could be one or two common things, plus many other uncommon ones! Most likely are either the obvious ones of pistons sticking or pads sticking, less common but not unheard of are collapsing flexible hoses, also uncommon but not unheard of are servo problems that effectively put the brakes on for you without you hitting the pedal, slightly mal-adjusted master servo pushrod not letting it release all the way back and letting the fluid back into the reservoir as it should - as things heat up and expand, the brakes end up getting put on more and more. I did have an ABS unit problem on my old 155 - it had a 3 channel ABS and the shuttle valve for the rear brake circuit corroded up and stuck so that I only got brakes on one wheel. I can see it would be possible for a similar problem to give you the symptoms you are getting. Fixing the ABS unit was a proper '5 spanners' job but I managed it.

TBH, having a working handbrake is important as you need to be sure that the handbrake operating lever on the caliper is returning properly so the self adjusters can operate.

Lots of options, you need to start at the beginning and be logical about it. First step for me would be to figure out if it's a hydraulic lock up or a mechanical one. Drive it until it locks up, then see which wheels are locking. Should be obvious from the amount of heat coming from the brakes - just feel the wheel rims. Next, try loosening the hydraulic line from the ABS unit to each affected wheel in turn - if it gives a great spurt of fluid and the brakes free up immediately, it's a hydraulic problem. If nothing much happens and the brakes are still stuck on, it's mechanical. From there, you can then quickly narrow down where to look before throwing parts & money at it.
 

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just to throw a spanner in the works, is it not the case that on ABS equipped cars it is advisable to slacken the bleed nipple when pushing in the brake piston as it damages some seal in the ABS unit (turns it inside out IIRC) as the flow of fluid is the wrong way?

Or am I thinking of my old Saab 9000?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the replies, my apologies for not posting back sooner but I came down with a bit of hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy and had to go into hospital for a spell... ok now so back to the real world and my poor old 166.

Have decided to go with my mechanics hunch on this and just buy a new master cylinder. Apart from going to a main dealer and forking out almost €400 I have found it very difficult to source one on the interweb.
There seems to be only mister-auto, around €170 for ATE unit which I can live with.
I have one question however: is the part left hand/right hand drive dependent or is it universal ?
As mister-auto are based in France I wonder should I get in touch with them to inform them it is a left hand drive unit I need. I have read on-line of people having this problem with other left hand drive/right hand drive dependent parts.

Once again thanks in advance..
AlfaCork.
 

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It shouldn't be l/r hand dependent. But if in doubt check the part numbers.

But air in the system will not make the calipers stick on so there is still the question of why the calipers are sticking.
 

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Did you ever get to the bottom of the problem I'm very curious to know what was causing it :confused:
 

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Long shot but sometimes, when the flexible hoses fail, they go "elastic". The reinforcement inside them starts to burst internally and the hose "balloons" ever so slightly. When that happens it acts as a store of pressurised fluid so that even when the pedal is released there is still some hydraulic pressure on the caliper pistons. Might be worth just checking that?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to all for the interest and the suggestions. So the brake master cylinder arrived promptly from mister-auto no problem, was fitted and problem solved.

Thank ****** that is over.

@ Avocet we had already replaced all of the flexible hoses so we knew it wasn't those.

@ New166 my mechanic tells me that the calipers getting stuck is also a problem on the 159's
which he regularly comes across.

Once again thank you to all that contributed, its great to have her back,
off to fix the rest of it now...:rolleyes:
 

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My old school way to test master cylinder failure was to clamp off the four calipers and test the pedal once done..

but it can be a risk if you still have some air.. but if you pump the cylinder up with all four calipers clamped off and the pedal does still drop 100% cylinder.. unless you have a fluid leak

my only issue is that nobody seems to rebuild these items.. until you strip the cylinder and check condition you might just need seal kit fitted.. only need replacing if the bore is damaged etc..

only time I change calipers is if the body is damaged beyond repair otherwise a strip and fit new seals

though I guess that it might not be cost effective with labour costs but a 500 quid for a replacement it would be.. last kit i bought was £22.00
 

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My old school way to test master cylinder failure was to clamp off the four calipers and test the pedal once done..

but it can be a risk if you still have some air.. but if you pump the cylinder up with all four calipers clamped off and the pedal does still drop 100% cylinder.. unless you have a fluid leak

my only issue is that nobody seems to rebuild these items.. until you strip the cylinder and check condition you might just need seal kit fitted.. only need replacing if the bore is damaged etc..

only time I change calipers is if the body is damaged beyond repair otherwise a strip and fit new seals

though I guess that it might not be cost effective with labour costs but a 500 quid for a replacement it would be.. last kit i bought was £22.00
Where can you buy seal kits from these days or is it an Alfa thing? Suppliers I use stopped selling repair kits a few years ago.
 

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I get them from my local motor factors or ebay.. most are available but can take some time to locate..

most cylinders and calipers are made by a large manufacturer rather than the car maker and most can be located without to much pain.. though I haven't tried alfa yet as about to rebuild calipers i know others who do so there available
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I did consider the seal kit option at one stage; at about £16/17 for the kit (I saw them on ebay), it seemed ideal,
but I was still going to get a labour bill and it may not have been the solution plus I would be down £17...
As it was my mech charged me €70 labour for fitting the master cylinder and what must have been quite a few litres of brake fluid by the time the whole business was over:rolleyes:
 

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I wonder if materials have improved these days. In years gone by, I used to be changing seals all the time on masters and slaves at relatively low miles/ages. These days, they seem to last forever...and when they do fail, more often than not, the bores are gubbed and the seals have been hanging on way past what they would have done before.

Massters certainly tend to be a damn sight harder to get at/change these days too, what with all the extra systems and kit wedged into our cars so the labour starts looking like a bigger element than part cost a lot of the time.

Alwasy wise to check the parts cost first though - try and make an informed decision at least.

Dunno, just pondering really.
 
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