Honda Element Owners Club banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
As far as I can see within the forum, people who experience brake problems seem to be mushy/soft brakes. I am frustratingly experiencing the opposite.

It started one day driving out on a country road and I wondered why the Element would not go into overdrive, then after a while it would struggle going over rises then it would not get out of second gear. I didn't need to apply the brakes to stop. The brakes had locked/binded up, at the time no matter what I did I could not release them. The brake pedal was very hard with no movement, apart from the normal pedal freeplay. The parking brake was not on. I had to leave the car overnight. The next day the brakes where fine, but as I as drove the pedal became increasingly harder. Upon arriving at home, the car would not creep forward while in Drive.

I have conducted the Functional Test and Leak Test as per the Service Manual, both are good. The manual mentioned with a hard pedal like that with the engine running it maybe the vacuum hose, so I replaced that; to no avail. The hose is on the correct way.

I did a brake fluid flush the other day, completely replacing the brake fluid which was already clean from November last year when I did a brake pad and rotor replacement on all wheels.

The weirdest thing is sometimes I can drive around for an hour or so and there are no problems. This morning the pedal started off hard. After driving for 5 minutes I could feel the brakes binding up, and the strangest thing is it starts with the front left brake.

Putting the car on stands, the front left and rear right have binder up the most, the front right and rear left are stiff but move.

What in the heck is going on!?:evil:

Even Mike Pruitt Honda's chief mechanic can't point to an exact cause and seems stumped.

I am not in a position to go ahead and willie nilly replace the master cylinder or brake booster.

Any help or advice will be very much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
With the brakes locked up open the bleed screw on the worst one and see if it releases the brake. If it does it could be the master cylinder or you still have air in the line. If there is air in the line it will expand when it's hot.
On the Element's with anti-lock brakes you have to activate the anti-lock modulator to get all the air out. If opining the bleed screw does not release the brake you have a mechanical problem with the caliper.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Alternative method?

That's the conclusion I am arriving at too. But at $170, I want to see what others on the forum think before I drop that chunk of change.

On a side note, does anyone have an alternative way of measuring the pushrod-to-piston clearance instead of using the $140 Pushrod Adjustment Gauge (07JAG-SD40100)?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Rick92040,

Are you saying even when you completely bleed the brake system on all four calipers, there is still air in the system?

After I had bleed the brakes on Sunday, I was driving around Sunday evening and Monday with no problems.

By the way, I tried to use the Powerbleed system, it is useless. The universal cap cannot sustain a 10 psi pressure, and is difficult to get it to hold 5 psi. So I had to go back to the good 'ol way of gettin' yur wife to pump it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Yes. If you have anti-lock brakes.
On the brake recall for my 08 they seal the modulator and then activate it while they bleed it to get all the air out.
 

·
EOC Rank: Crankypants
Joined
·
14,898 Posts
You could try temporarily disconnecting the vacuum booster, so you could at least rule that out as the culprit.

The master cylinder is a good candidate. Another possibility, if you have ever had contamination, is that one or more of the flexible lines could be clogged (debris or swollen rubber), causing it to act like a check valve, with pressure from the master cylinder alone being sufficient to overcome the restriction.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Ramblerdan, yes I have already tried that, and the brakes are still locked up. In no way does it diminish how much the brakes are locked. I tried disconnecting the vacuum hose while the car was on stands thinking surely the brakes would relent. Didn't change a thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
480 Posts
My opinion is that the calipers need rebuilt or replaced. Over time the calipers will get a build up in the piston bore and won't let the piston retract properly. If you've never rebuilt a caliper before, I would recommend finding someone that has to help you or take it to a shop. It's not that hard, but getting the piston out and then back in can be very frustrating even with the right tools. Just my two cents....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Flat Lander, I understand what you are saying. However, if it was a caliper (say the Front Left which invariably locks up first); why would all of them lock up over a very short period of time. Yet at other times I can drive for quite sometime with no problem. Also, due to the fact that the front left and rear right are the ones that lock up first, tends to be a strong indicator that the Master Cylinder is at fault.

Yes I do know how frustrating it can be getting the piston back with O-rings where they are supposed to be, when rebuilding a caliper.
 

·
Registered
07 2wd 5-speedauto
Joined
·
1,695 Posts
Try this.
When the brakes feel like they are locking or going in lock mode, unbolt the master cylinder from the power booster about 2 to 4 turns per nut. If the brakes release my best over the net guess is the vacuum booster is appling the brakes. I have also seen caliper slides that are binding do this, be sure to check those.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
480 Posts
Flat Lander, I understand what you are saying. However, if it was a caliper (say the Front Left which invariably locks up first); why would all of them lock up over a very short period of time. Yet at other times I can drive for quite sometime with no problem. Also, due to the fact that the front left and rear right are the ones that lock up first, tends to be a strong indicator that the Master Cylinder is at fault.

Yes I do know how frustrating it can be getting the piston back with O-rings where they are supposed to be, when rebuilding a caliper.
Good point, I guess I didn't read your post thoroughly. If it were the master cylinder though, I would make the same argument that you did (front left, right rear). The master cylinder can't distinguish between left and right, only front and rear. Since it's intermittent and diagonal, I don't have any good answers for you. If you haven't already tried this, check all the caliper slide pins and make sure they are lubed and don't have any grunge build up that might cause them to bind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,025 Posts
I didn't see it mentioned so I will. Water in the brake fluid will act exactly like this too. How certain are you of the fluid in the lines and what you're using?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Problem Solved

The problem was solved. It was indeed the Master Cylinder, but what's most interesting is the 'Why?'

When I bleed the system back in December prior to my trip to Oregon via the I-40 to Big Bear Lake to see my old home, then I-5 to Grants Pass. I had used an already opened brake fluid bottle as the replacement fluid. Being from Big Bear Lake where humidity is often in single digits I neglected to take into account Ohio's high humidity and general wetness. So yes, I had an expensive 'DUH' moment or it could be an early on set of 'senior moments'.

After replacing the Master Cylinder and draining the system it was quite apparent there was moisture in the system which caused the Master Cylinder to jam/freeze.

Moral of the story: NEVER EVER NEVER use an opened bottle of brake fluid as it is hygroscopic (water loving). So after you have drained your system and topped it up, do not bother keeping the brake fluid left. Always use a NEW UNOPENED bottle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Fuel Economy has improved too

I forgot to mention. Since replacing the Master Cylinder my average MPG jumped from 21 to 24 :), with a few highway segments when I drove to the East Coast of 26 MPG :grin: whilst cruising at around 70 to 75 MPH.

The average of 24 MPG is 90% country road and around town driving with the occasional short freeway jaunt. Not bad when you consider you are driving an under powered box around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Its good to hear your problem was solveable. I am experiencing an almost identical problem with my 2003 automatic DX. 132k miles. The problem symptom was similar, starting out as a dragging brake problem, then evolved into a virtual brake lock up.

I have only owned this car for a few months, and have not done any brake work on it personally since purchased. I did just have to replace the throttle body assembly to solve a air flow sensor valve issue, but this brake problem began almost simultaneously.

I have replaced the vacuum booster hose (it has a check valve in it, and didn't sound like it was opening and closing cleanly), but the problem is still present. It is installed in the correct orientation. With the engine running, the brakes just feel as though they are applied. The pedal is hard (under pressure), and does not move much. Again, with the engine running in this mode, I can remove the vacuum hose from the booster drum, and hear the pressure equalize (a hiss from the air drum), and then the brakes release. Connecting the hose again, just repeats the entire process. Removing the hose from the engine block does not release this pressure.

Any ideas out there? I hate to just keep replacing components, til they symptoms cease (might have to do this anyway....) so any input or ideas are greatly appreciated.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top