Made by Monkeys

The Brake Sensor’s Gone Mad

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it's always the whole instrument panel
naperlou   5/20/2013 9:06:44 AM
Paul, This story is so often repeated that you think it would have been fixed by now.  The design of automobile instrument pannels is a sham.  That, in many cases, you have to take out a whole instrument pannel to check or change a bulb is silly.  It is somwhat depressing that this is still the case in the 21st century.

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Re: it's always the whole instrument panel
Pubudu   5/20/2013 2:37:28 PM
Paul, we have to be aware when we go for a agent they will quote us more usually not locking at the right problem.

Sometimes back I had a noise in my front left window when operating the glass, I also got a quote for repair that which is not in my budget from the agent, and they wanted to replace the pump. So I wanted to fix it as it is and get the vehicle back after paying the inspection fees only. Fortunately there is no noise at all after re-fixing it back and still it's working properly. 

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Re: it's always the whole instrument panel
DB_Wilson   5/21/2013 8:56:31 AM
Many places don't look for the easy and simple fix first.  I repaired an intermittant brake warning light by adjusting the parking brake cable. 

User Rank
That's an easy fix...
kf2qd   5/21/2013 11:55:14 AM
Had a similar type problem with my wife's Plymouth Breeze. The Check engine light would come on because a sensor in the transmission was faulty. And this light was where it was really annoying at night. The Fix? A sript of Black Electricians Tape. Didn't see the light, could ignore the problem.

Ed Fuller
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Re: The Brake Sensor's Gone Mad
Ed Fuller   5/21/2013 12:03:18 PM
Confession time.

In my younger years I once had a brake light that would come on whenever I applied my brakes.  My first thought was that there was a problem electrical connection, but then I learned that this was a feature of the brake system.  When the fluid was low in the master cylinder and the brakes were applied, the fluid shifted forward and the light sensor was exposed turning on the light.  Once the car was stopped or accelerating, the fluid shifted back covering the sensor and turning off the light.  Solution to the problem:  add fluid (I wasn't real big on preventive maintenace at the time).

I can't say if this is "normal" operation in all vehicles, but it was new to me at the time.  I had not given the light much thought before then and had supposed that it was to tell me when my brakes were "bad."

In hindsight, the problem was obvious but I guess we all have to learn sometime.

William K.
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The fundamental problem with most dealer repairs.
William K.   5/21/2013 12:18:14 PM
The single HUGE problem with having a dealer service a vehicle is that they never repair anything, they only replace parts. Sometimes replacing a part is indeed the only way to solve the problem, but in many cases that is not what is actually required. So unless a problem clearly requires a part replacement that needs tools that I don't have access to, I do the repair myself. I am totally unwilling to pay $160 or more per hour to have somebody randomly change parts until a symptom goes away.

User Rank
Re: The fundamental problem with most dealer repairs.
apod   5/22/2013 8:14:19 AM
So agree with you. Had a similar experience with a Mini Cooper Dealer. Brought the vehicle in for a T'stat change, gasket was leaking, impossible to get to without mini hands, pun. They came back wtih about $10k of immediate needed repairs: new clutch to fix a mysterious leak (that was the antifreeze), new power steering fan, new tires, new radiator fan, and a couple other things. A year later, just the t'stat had to be replaced and also had to bring back because work was not good, I was still leaking out fluid. Go to a real mechanic.

Larry M
User Rank
Aha! A Hall effect device! No wonder it failed.
Larry M   5/23/2013 3:38:08 PM
I have concluded that Hall effect devices are simply too frail for the extended temperatures and vibration of an automotive environment. I've had a couple go intermittent and/or fail in my 1992 Mitsubishi (250 K miles). They never put them in some inexpensive assembly. You must buy a new distributor or throttle body assembly at a few hundred dollars each (assuming you use the dealer and not the junkyard).

I don't know how you would tell in advance of buying a car whether Hall effect devices were used but I would avoid them if I could figure out how to.


User Rank
Fix the light - don't ignore it
dnason@kicmail.com   5/23/2013 4:23:21 PM
I have to take exception to the last comment "I decided I can live with a red lamp in the lower left corner of the panel that comes and goes randomly."

There is a reason the light is red. The brake system is the single most important system in your vehicle. If you are learning to ignore the warning light then in the unlikely event the light comes on for a valid reason, it could be too late. If the vehicle is old enough to be found in a junkyard, you can probably find one for low cost. Less than 10 years old, I would suggest paying for the replacement or finding an aftermarket replacement.

User Rank
Vehicle NOT designed by monkeys; Owned by one.
tomintx   5/23/2013 6:08:15 PM
This discussion brings to mind a recent experience I had with 2001 Suburban.  

Symptom 1: Cruise Control failed.  Does not accept input, cannot set.

Guess: No idea, sounds expensive.  Ignore.

Symptom 2: Car failed safety inspection in April 2013 - no brake lights.

Guess: Combined failures; must be single failure point - brake switch at pedal.

Checked first because it was easy: Bulbs

Solution: Replace 2 bulbs and cruise control now works.  Car also passed inspection.

Note to self:  Check brake lights more often.  

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