Brake issue: reservoir half full or half empty? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Brake issue: reservoir half full or half empty?

Hey guys,

We picked up an old Milano Verde that has been sitting for a few years yesterday. Upon starting it, we were surprised to find a brake pedal that went to the floor with virtually no braking available.

My partner @Caxny noticed that the brake fluid reservoir was empty in the front, but full almost to max in the rear. Wish I had shot a photo of it. I then filled the reservoir up to max and didn't see much fluid make it forward, but maybe some did.

We later started the car and ran it around the block a couple times (quiet residential street) in first gear and tryign the brake pedal, but mostly using the ebrake. Upon working on the car later, we observed fluid was now in the front portion of the resvoir

What does this mean? We are just dipping our toes into the Milano water and basically no nothing about them other than we've heard the ABS pumps are problematic. We did receive a receipt form the owner showing the ABS pump was replaced with new by a reputable shop in 2009 and only ~ 10k miles have been put on the car since (mostly sitting, especially the last few years).

Can anyone help? Did lots of searches, but no direct hits for me.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 07:56 PM
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First : Do you hear the abs pump turn on at all? It should run for a bit and then off at start up. It you depress the pedal a bunch of times it should run as well. How does the pedal feel? If it is rock hard the pump probably isn't running.

Bleed the brakes. Front is conventional pump, open bleed, close, repeat. For the rear, turn ignition on go to the back and open the bleed while you friend holds the brake pedal depressed. Pump will run and it will flush out the fluid for you. Keep checking your reservoir and do a little at a time.

Start with the bleed..




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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dom. We have not heard the pump, but haven't been specifically checking for it as we don't know what we don't know yet. Will have to give that a test. Pedal is 100% soft and goes to the floor repeatedly -- no buildup of pressure at all. ABS system replaced with new, but about 9 years ago and only 10k miles with years of non-use.

Any ideas how the fluid would get that low without a massive leak? Why just the front of the reservoir? Never seen that in any other car. Welcome to Alfa, right?

That's what I was thinking too -- start with a full purge and bleed to see what we have.

Do we start at the back with the furthest brake as a normal car or ?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 09:31 AM
But Mad North-Northwest
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Generally brake reservoirs are divided into two chambers about halfway up. I know the non-ABS Milano one is, and from what you're saying yours is the same. That way if you have a leak on one half of the system it won't completely drain the reservoir and you still have the other half of the system to stop with. If you top it off it should even out.

So now you just need to figure out where you're losing brake fluid to the front of the brake system.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 10:16 AM
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Just checked the pump.... does run for a couple of seconds and then off. Also runs on pedal depress.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Ha, @Caxny way ahead of me.
@Dom does that mean ABS pump is good or are there other Gremlins to check for?

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Made major progress today and got it back in the road. Found a leaking drivers front brake line, replaced with braided fabricated at a local shop, bled, et voila. Brakes!

We still have an ABS light on and on hard braking the passenger front locks up first and there is no ABS at this time. The pump is making noise at the right time and seems to work.

Should we proceed to do a full front/rear bleed or do we have other problems? Would air in the system overall cause these problems? We have a very firm brake pedal, but still not 100% sorted.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 04:16 PM
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Is the illuminated ABS light the yellow one near the High Beam / Signal indicators? Or is it the red one on the ARC?

If it is the yellow, I think that light means the ABS function is disabled because of disagreement between the four wheel sensors. I have driven my car many miles with this light on and the brakes work great other than the fact that there is no ABS function.

I think two causes for this problem are 1) broken wires leading to the wheel sensors, and 2) misalignment of wheel sensors. If the light comes on as soon as the car moves, it may be a wire. If it only comes on after turning sharply in one direction, it is probably a sensor alignment problem. Once the yellow light comes on, it will stay on until the engine is turned off and restarted. I do not remember for sure but I think the light also stays lit upon startup until the pump has built to working pressure at the accumulator.

I don't really know anything about the red "brake" light on the ARC.

I am probably in the minority, but I have had Milanos both with and without the ABS system and I like the feel of the brakes more on my ABS car. But as I mentioned I have the ABS function disabled.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks @dpberner. It's the tall yellow light on the left side.

Today we took off every electrical connection on the pump and everything we could find related to the brakes, hit it with a wire brush, electrical connection cleaner and then resecured. That includes the weird bar fuse under the coil.

After we did that...light went out! Brakes felt better, but still not sure ABS is 100% working. Of course we've only bled the drives front wheel so far and none in the back. That is our next move.

When you say you have ABS but it's disabled, what exactly does that mean and how do you do it? Benefits?

Thanks!

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peakay View Post


When you say you have ABS but it's disabled, what exactly does that mean and how do you do it? Benefits?

Thanks!
Sorry, bad language on my part. My ABS function is "disabled" because some of my wheel sensors are out of alignment. So, whenever I start driving, after going around a few corners, the yellow light comes on. Once that happens I can lock up the wheels by braking hard. I don't think there are any benefits to this except for people who don't like the ABS function. If mine had kept working I would not have disabled it on purpose.

I think that if you disconnected all of the wheel sensors, this would essentially disable the ABS function without the yellow light coming on, but for most people there would not be a great reason for doing so. And I have never tried doing this so I can not say for certain that it would work.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpberner View Post
Sorry, bad language on my part.
No problem.

Anyone know if air in the system (needing to bleed brakes) would cause ABS to not work in general? It seemed better, but still tends to lock up the front right in extreme stopping and none of the rears. We are thinking perhaps the rear circuit needs a good bleed.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2018, 05:58 AM
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even if abs not working at all, 4 brakes should work evenly per the hydraulics. in general, in panic braking, the inherent brake bias should have the fronts lock before the rears. the fact that you have one that locks early, consistently, indicates there is something wrong w the base system.
also, re the abs... when car starts, pump should run for about 25 seconds for initial system pressurization. reserve pressure should be good for 7-8?? pedal applications.
if it is running after each pedal actuation, there is something wrong w the abs pressure side..

"We picked up an old Milano Verde that has been sitting for a few years" this plus the symptoms you are having - i would think that might be good reason to go through the whole brake system in an organized fashion. which includes (last step) complete bleed. of all the parts of the car, this is the one you bet your life on every time you drive it.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2018, 09:26 AM
Del
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The other thing is that discs which have been sitting around for years can have lots of rust on them, and the brakes don't work well at first with such rusted discs. I would agree that a thorough check of the brake discs and calipers, which might have stuck pistons, is clearly warranted.

Del

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previously owned since 1964:

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