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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I own a 2000 and am looking at a 2002 for my parents at a smallish used car dealer that's been around for many years w/ a decent rep. I took the 2002 for a test drive a few days ago and the brakes seem soft. I mean, when you press the pedal down, you start feeling resistance on the pedal right away but the brakes don't start grabbing until the pedal travels a few more inches. After that, they grab and stop the van just fine. The pedal never sinks to the floor like when the master cylinder fails.

I noticed it, my brother noticed it, and even my mom noticed it (and was a little scared by it!). Yet both the mechanic and owner of the garage say they've driven the van and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary which just blows my mind. I went back two days later and they say they've double checked all the brakes and even bled them and they can't find anything wrong.

I told them my 2000 is nothing like that. That when you press on the pedal, you feel the brakes grab right away -- just like every other car I've ever driven in my life. But they dismiss that by saying "well, your 2000 has drum brakes in the back and you can adjust them tighter, but the 2002 has discs all around and you can't adjust them. It is what it is."

Could it really be that the 2002's brakes feel way different than the 2000's? I can't believe it but w/o actually driving a 2002 I can't know for sure.

2002 owners chime in please!
 

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How many miles on the 2002? How is the condition of the dust boots on each caliper? I had a very similar feel on my 2002 at 156k miles. I had bled the brake fluid and did the master cylinder test (normal). It turns out one of the caliper slide pins on my left front caliper was frozen. I ended up replacing the whole caliper b/c I couldn't get the pin unstuck but now my brake pedal feels nice and firm. :) It's kinda labor intensive to remove each caliper and test the slide pins, but you might find your answer there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the tip! This 2002 has 115k on it.

Did yours pull to the side or anything? This van doesn't pull, it stops nice and straight (once you get the pedal about 1/2 way down)
 

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Doesn't sound right to me. We have 2 other cars with rear disks and they don't do this. Sounds like kbh has a good thing to look for. Assuming it's not air in the system they should be able to see the offending caliper by watching it when someone pushes on the pedal.
 

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From a 2002 owner, a few inches of pedal travel before the brakes grab is definitely not normal.

Also, their theory about disc brake adjustment is worthless. When working correctly, the piston moves out further to compensate for pad wear. This maintains a better adjustment than any drum brake system.

Another possible cause: there may be air in the ABS system.
 

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Disc vs. drum makes a difference! Drums are grabbier initially (before they start to fade).

And the type of pad material also makes a big difference. We've got a plethora of choices these days besides the OEM ones, and somebody may have installed some low-grade aftermarket organic pads which don't have very much bite.

I wouldn't let this issue be a deal-stopper if I were you. I'd be much more concerned about the transmission and whether it has been replaced yet or not.
 

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There may be air in the system. Might be good to service bleed the brakes such that all the brake fluid is replaced. I plan to do this on my wife's van over the weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again for the feedback

The garage called me late yesterday saying they took all the calipers off and found that the slider on the front right was seized. The mechanic said he freed it up and greased it. He thinks it's better now and asked us to come drive it again, so we're going to check it out today.

I'll keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Took it for another drive today and the brakes were fine. My parents bought it.

The thing is in great shape...a real cream-puff. (almost certainly the PO didn't have young kids)

I'm still bothered that the one guy at this place kept insisting that the brakes were fine and the way they were was absolutely normal! I guess I'll never know if he was really that clueless or if he was trying to buffalo us into doubting ourselves and just buying the van as-was...:huh:
 

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Congratulations, glad it all worked out. I wonder how common a problem this is since both our cars had it. I guess since your parents bought it, it will stay in cream puff condition unless they will be doing grandkid hauling duty!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have a feeling that this van may've sat for a while unused (since it was a trade-in) and maybe that contributed to it hanging up.

Hopefully it stay cream-puff :)
 
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