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dragging brakes

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Carbon Crank

Nov 24, 2017, 12:04 PM

Post #1 of 5 (781 views)
dragging brakes Sign In

2001 Chevy prizm 4 speed automatic.

Passenger side front brake will intermittently drag. It's starts small but get's quickly worse to the point where I'd better be able to find a place to park it. I notice when it happens I have a hard pedal. (no freeplay) I've had it hot enough to smell the brake a couple of times.

I let it sit and cool down for half an hour and everything is fine. 20 miles of driving the other day and no problem until I'm within a mile or mile and a half from home. I barely made it.

But In the last quarter mile I noticed something odd. As I came to a stop at a light close to home with it dragging I heard a brake squeak. Then I realized I heard it over my right shoulder. It was the right back rear that squeaked not the left front.

When I got home I checked the left front and of course it was very very hot. But then I went to the right read and tapped the drum with my forefinger.... and nearly burned it. The right rear was very hot as well.

This has me thinking it's not as straight forward as I though. I already bought a loaded caliper, shoes and a rotor for the front. 2 years ago I had a similar problem and with the help of a neighbor we found a problem with the caliper slider. He polished that up and everything is was fine until now so I just figured not more messing around trying to fix it, just replace the parts right?

But I had noticed that even with the left front dragging it was steering straight. I would think if the left is dragging it should pull left. But ahah! what if the right rear is compensating? Or what if the rear is the heart of the problem. I know there is crossover in the master cylinder.

My driving habits include putting the car in neutral at traffic lights because I have leg pain and don't like to be forced to have a foot on the brake pedal, plus it uses less fuel in neutral. But if there is just a slight grade and a little roll I just give the hand brake a little pull. I thought it was a good idea to use the hand brake occasionally because most stuck cables happen with people that hardly ever use it and it sticks the next time they do. Could a sticking cable at the right rear be the culpret? Is there any way one brake dragging could cause the opposite rear to drag?

I'm wondering about the relationship between the opposite sides of front and rear through the master cylinder and which wheel has the real problem, left front or right rear.

I don't think this is coincident. If I'm going to fix it I want to fix the right thing the first time.

(This post was edited by Carbon Crank on Nov 24, 2017, 12:20 PM)

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Nov 24, 2017, 2:07 PM

Post #2 of 5 (769 views)
Re: dragging brakes Sign In

I don't think you have a caliper problem. Has anyone changed any brake parts or topped off the fluid recently?

How about an oil change at a quick lube? Did that happen recently?


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Carbon Crank

Nov 25, 2017, 5:54 PM

Post #3 of 5 (755 views)
Re: dragging brakes Sign In

leaking brake line replaced a few month ago, brake were bled fluid refilled.

Oil change at Valvoline about a month ago.

What's the point?

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Nov 25, 2017, 6:00 PM

Post #4 of 5 (753 views)
Re: dragging brakes Sign In

The point is that is one of those Rhode scholars that changed your oil mistakenly added even a few drops of a petroleum product to the master, it will destroy the insides and do exactly what you are describing.

The reason I asked about brake parts is because if a new master was installed and the pushrod was out of adjustment, it would lock up the brakes like that also.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Nov 26, 2017, 1:59 AM

Post #5 of 5 (750 views)
Re: dragging brakes Sign In

Carbon Crank: With all these brake issues, rusted line - one means more now or coming can get thru that but means you are or whoever did the work playing with the brake fluid a lot more chances for contamination is probably the issue perhaps not the place that bled them out but that "quickie oil change" so well known for speed not really allowed enough time if they were aware of how dangers they can be with exactly brake fluid.

Doesn't take much but would take a little time if topped off with an oil brake fluids are not rather a rubber friendly hydraulic fluid. Oil would make rubber anywhere it touches in the whole system bloat up then erratic just like you are going thru.

You could check. Look at the rubber bellows of where you fill it for if it bloated, swollen or doesn't fit right anymore as just the damning clue.

Repair for only that is anything rubber in the entire system has to go and there's lots!

Proving that is hard. Try this too -- put a drop of fluid on something and with plain water see if it rinses off oils wont, normal brake fluid will. Oil float on brake fluid but with use gets pushed thru the system takes a little while for the problems to begin.

Sorry - I use more words than Hammer Time did but the mix of your problems and where you last had it serviced and where asked before that was said is too common.

You need a plan of attack on what to do about this all around both finish off any rusted parts/lines all issues with all wheels then this both see what you can verify and if you can or should fix all of that or the dreaded finding these problems exceed the value of this car,


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