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Old 01-25-2009, 10:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
DAS
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Default Very cold, NO BRAKES

When it is REALLY cold out, like -10 below or colder my '02 Outback has NO brakes at start up. The pedal feels like a brick and stomping on it does NOTHING to slow the car down. After it has been running for about 30 seconds the brakes function normally.
It is not the loss of the power assist, the car has NO brakes. Anyone else have this problem, or an idea about what it may be?
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Frozen pads, frozen rotors, reduced stopping power. Usually one or two normal stops are enough to liven them up. Also, if the ABS kicks in while the brakes are really cold, you are screwed.

I live on a court on the side of a hill, so when I'm leaving my house and the hill is slippery, I have to remember to turn up the hill rather than down it, because the combination of ABS + cold brakes will put me right through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. I really gotta get around to pulling that fuse...

The Grabbers, on the other hand, will climb the hill at any temperature, unless it's skating ice.
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I did have the same problem..no more with my "Akobono HP" pads in the front...rockauto.com
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sheesh does anyone here even bother with the search feature?


Frozen check valve in brake booster vacuum line
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Oh, okay. Sounds like the OP might have a more serious problem.

Thanks for stepping in there, nipper.
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I did NOT say I loose my power assist, I LOOSE MY BRAKES. NO STOP, PEDAL HARD AS A ROCK. I am 6'3" and 200 pounds, I can not stop the car with both feet on the brake. I have experienced the lack of power assist, this is alarming, but not unsafe.
Sometimes I hear the ABS cycling, other times I do not. When it is well below zero the brakes DO NOT WORK for about 30 seconds after start up.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Been down to -10 on my '03 beaner, have not had any problems so far.

Will def. by testing the brakes on the cold mornings...


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Old 01-26-2009, 10:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by DAS
I did NOT say I loose my power assist, I LOOSE MY BRAKES. NO STOP, PEDAL HARD AS A ROCK. I am 6'3" and 200 pounds, I can not stop the car with both feet on the brake. I have experienced the lack of power assist, this is alarming, but not unsafe.
Sometimes I hear the ABS cycling, other times I do not. When it is well below zero the brakes DO NOT WORK for about 30 seconds after start up.
So then why are you driving the car and not taken it to the shop. Let the car sit over night at the shop and get a cold soak.

Also there is a recall for this issue, I do not remember what year is covered.
You may also have water in your brake lines.


You will have to look it up.

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Old 01-26-2009, 10:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The problem only occurs when it is at least -10, and it is gone in about 30 seconds. That is not a very long window of opportunity to test for problems. I have no faith in my local dealer, and have no relationship with any garages, as I have always done all my own mantenance myself.
When I leave my house I start the car in the garage. My driveway is very steep and down hill from the garage. On cold mornings I test the brakes before decending the driveway. The last time I had a problem I had left the car in a commuter parking lot. When I returned it was -15. I started the car and tried to back out of the parking space. NO BRAKES. Hitting the pedal with all I had there was no way to stop the car. I put it in park and pumped the brakes until they worked. The pedal was very hard for about 30 seconds, then normal. The car is an '02 LL Bean.
I really think it is something in the ABS system. Sometimes the pedal vibrates and bangs as if I were skidding on ice, but I am not. The ABS light has never come on.
I don't understand why the brakes function normally after a moment. There is not enough time for engine heat to have any effect. Maybe the problem goes away when the ABS pump cycles?
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by DAS
I did NOT say I loose my power assist, I LOOSE MY BRAKES. NO STOP, PEDAL HARD AS A ROCK. I am 6'3" and 200 pounds, I can not stop the car with both feet on the brake. I have experienced the lack of power assist, this is alarming, but not unsafe.
Sometimes I hear the ABS cycling, other times I do not. When it is well below zero the brakes DO NOT WORK for about 30 seconds after start up.
When there is no power assist (the vacuum is all gone in your booster), you will have a rock hard pedal. I just experienced this for the first time recently and my experience sounds like yours. It is the check valve in the brake booster line. Moisture in the valve freezes and causes the valve to stick.

You'll probably have a regular pedal when you first step on the pedal to shift from park. This is using up some of the reserve vacuum in the booster (this is the function of the check valve - to keep a reserve of vacuum in the booster should the engine fail while you're in motion - the reserve of vacuum will be enough to have power brakes for one or two pumps of the pedal). In fact, when I pulled my hose to spray wd-40 down it, there was a hiss as the reserve vacuum was lost from the booster.

The second or third time you step on the pedal you will have no power assist and a rock hard pedal. I'm guessing that after a bit of warm air gets in the vacuum hose, the valve loosens (or maybe the force of mashing on the pedal causes it to break free or maybe the build up of vacuum between the engine and the check valve causes it to free up) and you have regular brakes again.

When I had the booster hose off, I blew into it from both ends, and can confirm that there is a check valve in there and mine was working, but it was warm at the time. I was tempted to throw it in the freezer for several hours and see if it would stick.

The next time it's that cold out you can figure out if it's the check valve. Start your car. Step on the brakes - pedal feels normal? Step on the brake again - pedal is rock hard - it's the check valve.
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