[bang] (__girlonthemoon) wrote in aircooledvws,

VW won't stop.

Quick brakes query for y'all!

Basically.. My brakes have gone. Took the bug out for a short drive & they were working fine on the way there, but on the way back they were very very spongy. It's currently parked on an incline, & I've got enough brake-power to hold it still if I take the handbrake off but they're definitely not 100%.

This has happened before, due to insufficient amounts of brake fluid - but I had a look at the tank & the level seems ok.. The brakes themselves are pretty new, so I'm hoping that it's not a problem with them.

This is my first car, & whilst my bug-maintenance knowledge is growing I still don't really know a enough about cars to know what's caused this.. (or how to fix it!) So if anyone can offer me a suggestion as to what it could possibly be on my limited description & without seeing the car.. [I know. I know. Potentially stupid question!] I'd be really thankful! :)

S'a 1970 1300 & totally my baby!

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Check your master cylinder. Did you replace it when you did the brake job?

I'm drawing a total blank on the name of the seal I blew out braking too hard a year or so ago, but it caused a slow leak which led to my brakes getting mushier and mushier by the day until they finally stopped working. It was an easy repair, though. I hope yours is too!
Thanks! I'll have a look at that tomorrow.. I'm just praying it's not gonna be an expensive repair. :/
If you've been through the system recently, it's probably not a catastrophic failure - especially if they were working earlier. It's likely to be a seal or a bad master cylinder.

If I see my mechanic later today I'll ask him what the heck the name of that seal was. I don't know why I can't remember - it's not like I've been driving VWs for twenty years or anything! o_O

could also be just some bubbles in the system... sometimes they stick in curves in the lines and then get shaken loose and meet up.. they become big enough to compress and suddenly you've got spongy brakes.

or could be failing slave cylinders if you didn't replace them when you did the shoes.. pop off the wheels and check for dark spots around the slave cylinders
Thanks! I'll have a check.. Fingers crossed it's just bubbles.
here is a fun bit of news:
there isn't a single expensive part in your entire brake system!

now that I got taht out of the way, I would reccomend topping off your fluid, bleeding all the brakes, and seeing if it comes back. if it does, pop off the drums and see if there is brake fluid weeping out from under the rubbers on your wheel cylinders. These will be easy to recognize once you have the drum off.

by the way, that is a gorgeous bug!
here is a fun bit of news:
there isn't a single expensive part in your entire brake system!

I'll give that a go when it stops monsooning outside! && thanks, it spent 10 years in a barn unused, so it's still got the original engine & has only done 27,000.. Bloke I bought it off was a little bit of a cowboy, but most of the major kinks have been ironed out now. :)
i had pretty much the same deal with a bug i just started driving. It's a DRIVE TO OWN deal heheh.
Except, the master cyclinder was empty.
Obviously there is a leak somewhere.
When in doubt, replace master cylinder.?.
To bench bleed a VW master cylinder it's easiest to dunk it in fluid and pump it while submerged.
You may just need to adjust the brakes- they don't do it themselves, like other cars.

I like the color combo- I've thought of doing a similar scheme to my 71 super.
Thanks! I'm gonna take it into a garage & let them have a look at it.. My parents wern't too happy with me fixing it myself! & I can see why..

I like the colour thing too! Although mine's very EasyJet! I saw one the same last time I was in London, but the orange was black, looked pretty cool!
Confused me for a bit when I saw "1970 1300." Then I saw your number plate and the absence of a steering wheel on the left-hand side and it made sense. You see, across the pond here, They only sold VW's with the largest engine made in that year. In other words, the 1300 is ONLY found on 1965 and older cars, the 1500 is found on '66 and '67's, and the 1600 was the ONLY engine offered from '68 on. I believe it was 1970 when the 1600 dual-port became standard.

Most bugs around here have at least a 1641 now, the most common engine is a 1776. My '55 had a 1914 in it for a while. Scary fast getting on the freeway (read: motorway). Still got good mileage, though, if I kept the carbs adjusted and didn't jam the accelerator down too much.

Enough about that. The shop should check for leaks, then adjust them and you'll probably be alright.
so this post was 10 months ago and I'm hoping you've gotten it all fixed since then, but in the meantime, in case you haven't and that poor bug is still having a hard time stopping...

the brake system in the old bugs is about as simple as it gets. Pedal pushes piston in master cylinder. Master cylinder pushes fluid through lines to pistons in slave cylinders. slave cylinders expand outward, pushing brake shoes towards the drums. shoes and drums rub together, car stops.

Now, it *COULD* be something as simple as a loose stem, nipple, whatever you want to call the little doodad that you use to bleed your brakes. There's one on each slave cylinder, coming out the inside face of each brake plate. I'd re-bleed the brakes and make sure all the nuts are tight on each stem (don't overtighten though!) Check for signs of leakage while you're under there. If your fluid came out nasty and bubbly, you needed the brakes bled badly. Make sure the connections on the brake lines are tight at both ends (master cyl and slave cyls). Put more fluid in the reservoir and take it out for a spin.

Now, if you noticed leakage, or if the problem just happens again after a few weeks or months, you've got a leak somewhere. My guess would be master cylinder needs replacing. I'd replace that first, it's not that expensive. If you have the original brake lines, go ahead and replace those too, just on general principle. Your brakes are probably the single most critical part of your vehicle (it's either that or steering -- engines come in third place).

If you replace the master cyl and the lines and you're STILL leaking or getting air into the system, and you've never let the reservoir run dry, it's got to be the slave cylinders. those are definitely more of a pain to replace than the master cylinder. make sure you do each wheel one at a time...a wise man always leaves a visual reference for putting a drum brake system back together!

and if I've told you all this 9.5 months too late, hey, sorry :) just excited at finding this community!
Ahh yes, bug is all fixed now luckily & chugging merrily about the countryside! It -was- the master cylinder in the end, so have now got a shiny new one & have had no brake related problems since..

Although my fuel line did split a few weeks after that on a petrol station forecourt! There's always something - luckily it got spotted before I left otherwise the poor bug could have been toast.

Anyway, thankyou very much for your reply.. This is my first car & I'm still a bit of a VW-newbie so need all the help & explaining that I can get! xx
I'm still a newbie at this stuff too...necessity is a great teacher :)

If you don't already have a copy of both the Bentley VW official service manual and the Muir Complete Idiot's Guide to Keeping Your VW Alive, I would suggest getting both of those books. Read Muir cover to cover, though certainly focus on the sections you think you'll need first, and use Bentley for detailed reference. Between those two books and a few basic tools (listed in Muir), there's not much you can't do.

First car, eh? You've made an interesting choice. There's nothing simpler to work on than the old beetles. There's nothing better to learn how to work on cars on, either.

That said...they're not the supercheap, go-anywhere, run-forever cars that mysticism makes them out to be. After a year of intensive experience with mine, I will say that anyone who tells you those old beetles will run forever is telling you a half truth. There has to be someone KEEPING them running for forever.

Parts are getting rarer, more expensive, and harder to come by. I'm to the point where I pretty much have to mail order everything I need, because the local shops don't carry much of anything for these old bugs anymore.
Ahh I have the Muir book & will definitely have a look at the other one, thanks! As far as parts go I've been quite lucky with mine. eBay is a total god-send. I managed to pick up a new bonnet for £10 from there & find a friend to respray it for me & voila! New bonnet for the bug for around £30. Touch-wood, beyond the brakes (& getting the exhaust fixed.. loooong story) it's been totally fine. It was sat in a barn for 10 years, so I only have 29,000-ish miles on the original engine, so I think that helps!


9 years ago