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 Post subject: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:00 pm
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Year and Trim: 2003 Pontiac Bonneville SE
I have a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville SE. I am having a problem with the braking system and I am not sure what I need to look at.
The problem is that my brakes are very spongey and go all the way to the floor but the car does stop. I have replaced the brake shoes on all 4. I put in a brand new master cylinder, primed the cylinder before putting it in and then bled the system. While I was bleeding the system with the car off the brakes felt strong, meaning that there was good pressure there. But once I took it out on the road they turned into a sponge.
The ABS light is on constantly.
Another thing that may be affecting this is that I took the car into a tire store to check the brakes and they told me that sometime during the life of the car someone had put something other than brake fluid in the system and that I had to replace the whole braking system. I do not know if this was true or not as I bought the car used.

Can someone out there provide me some insight on what I need to do from here? I am stumped!

Thanks in advance


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:28 pm 
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Resident Gearhead
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Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
If you introduce air into the system upstream of the ABS module (which undoubtedly occurred if you replaced the master cylinder) you need to use a scan tool to perform an automated bleed procedure of the ABS modulator. You still have air in the system. Unless you have access to a high-end scan tool (Tech2 or similar) you'll need to make an appointment at a shop to have this resolved.

As for the fluid, the wrong stuff can cause problems. Not all fluids are compatible with the rubber components in the system so this is a possibility. What did the tire shop say led them to this conclusion? I'd look further into this before jumping on that. I don't take my cars to a tire shop to check brakes. Unless they are a full-service shop licensed to perform mechanical work I'd go elsewhere.

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Last edited by ddalder on Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:11 pm
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Year and Trim: 2000 Bonniville SSEi L67
Hi, you might try bleeding the lines again
Always bleed from wheel farthest from master cylinder to closest
So it would be right rear pass first, then drivers rear and pass front and then drivers front
Be sure to never let the master cylinder reservoir run dry or air will get into system and you have to do it all over again. Also, bleed with engine running so you get the vacuum booster doing its job.
Be sure to check for line leaks while you bleed.
Oh yeah, the abs module under front of car will have to be bled also
Its the square thing that all the brake lines come from near the bottom of rad
Putting anything but brake fluid in the system can swell all the seals and brakes will be fubar until all calipers are replaced. The brakes will lock if this happens so I doubt that's the problem.

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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:46 pm 
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Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
I'm not sure why, but GM specifies a different order depending on year. The 2000 Bonneville shows the bleed order as RR, LR, RF, LF which may also apply to 2001. The procedure changes to an order of RR, LF, LR, RF in later years. Andrew says that in all the cars he's parted out the brake systems all seem to be identical so I have no idea why GM changed the order.

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Turn Signal Mirrors, Center Console Courtesy Lamp, Rear Outboard Heated Seats, PVD Chrome 18" Factory Rims, Upgraded
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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:00 pm
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Year and Trim: 2003 Pontiac Bonneville SE
Thanks for the input.
The tire shop did not indicate how they came to this conclusion.
I will try bleeding the brakes again and see if that helps. I did not have the car running when I bled them before so I will try that.
I am wondering if the ABS module has gone bad on the car? Does anyone know if there is a way to test this?

Thanks in Advance


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:05 pm 
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Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
I would have the entire system bled properly first and go from there. You really need to perform the automated bleed procedure to cycle the pump and actuators in order to work the air through. Don't jump on the ABS module until bleeding the system in complete. Then have it scanned for codes to see what is/was setting the light. If you don't start at the beginning you may end up completing repairs that aren't necessary and don't solve the problem.

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Bose Luxury Sound System w/Touch Screen Navigation, Addition of Factory XM, 2005 MY Antenna, OnStar Upgrade (3G),
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Turn Signal Mirrors, Center Console Courtesy Lamp, Rear Outboard Heated Seats, PVD Chrome 18" Factory Rims, Upgraded
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Wiring Harnesses, Custom Fuse Box & Tire and Loading Information Decals, Additional Acoustic Insulation


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:21 am
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Year and Trim: 2000 SSEI
1: Have the ABS code read to see what code is, that will give you a starting point.
2: Check for leaks, Brake hoses, Hard lines, Calipers, connections
3: Vacuum check the brake booster and booster check valve

If they are hard when the the car is off and go to the floor when the car is on and nothing else is leaking it may be a bad diaphragm in the booster or the check valve on the booster hose.

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1995 Monte Z34: T04e "60" turbo, 42.5# injectors, Borla Catback, OBDII swap, DHP Tuned, Much more...


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:52 pm 
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Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
The other questions that should have been asked is why did you replace the master cylinder? Did your ABS light come on before or after you did this work?

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Bose Luxury Sound System w/Touch Screen Navigation, Addition of Factory XM, 2005 MY Antenna, OnStar Upgrade (3G),
RainSense Wipers, Backup Camera, '00 Style Door Panel Courtesy Lights, Heated Washer Solvent, 2X Remote Trunk Release,
Turn Signal Mirrors, Center Console Courtesy Lamp, Rear Outboard Heated Seats, PVD Chrome 18" Factory Rims, Upgraded
Carbon Fibre Appearance Interior Trim, Highly Modified Main Body Harness, Instrument Panel, Door, Door Panel & Headliner
Wiring Harnesses, Custom Fuse Box & Tire and Loading Information Decals, Additional Acoustic Insulation


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:00 pm
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Year and Trim: 2003 Pontiac Bonneville SE
I replaced the master brake cylinder because the cap would no longer tighten on. Basically the top was striped.
Also I am trying to fix it myself rather than take it to a shop. So my thinking was that I was I would start at the pads, which I replaced and no difference. Then I moved to the cylinder, they got better but still not anything I would trust. So now I am trying to figure out my next step.
I am starting to wonder if I am in over my head?
If I was to find a tech II tool how would I know how to do the automated process?


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:20 pm 
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Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
The automated bleed process is on one of the menus, but I would strongly suggest that if you aren't familiar with the process, or at least have access to the service manual that you consider going to a shop. As redsmonte stated, there could be other problems. Part of the problem is since the master cylinder was replaced, I'm confident that there is still likely some air in the system. Without bleeding the system it 'may' be difficult to tell if the spongy brakes are as a result of the air or another problem which is why I suggested to eliminate air right off the top. At least then what's left over for symptoms you can work with. Having the code(s) read is also important. The ABS lamp may be on for several different reasons so this may lead to something helpful or it may be another problem that isn't causing your symptoms.

Prior to replacing the master cylinder (but after replacing the pads), were the brakes better, as bad or worse than they are right now?

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Bose Luxury Sound System w/Touch Screen Navigation, Addition of Factory XM, 2005 MY Antenna, OnStar Upgrade (3G),
RainSense Wipers, Backup Camera, '00 Style Door Panel Courtesy Lights, Heated Washer Solvent, 2X Remote Trunk Release,
Turn Signal Mirrors, Center Console Courtesy Lamp, Rear Outboard Heated Seats, PVD Chrome 18" Factory Rims, Upgraded
Carbon Fibre Appearance Interior Trim, Highly Modified Main Body Harness, Instrument Panel, Door, Door Panel & Headliner
Wiring Harnesses, Custom Fuse Box & Tire and Loading Information Decals, Additional Acoustic Insulation


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 Post subject: Re: Braking Problem
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:23 pm 
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I understand wanting to save a buck.. i have paid to have it diagnosed and still fixed it myself, typically it would cost 20-50 to get it diagnosed and with the labor and parts i still save money. If you have done everything you can think to do you might want to have a shop diagnose the problem. brakes are one of those things that is a must on a car to function so if its not something that is a obvious problem might be time to pony up the $$ and have it checked..

Who knows, might be a bad Master Cyl out of the box, it does happen and if you are like me..... It will most likely happen to me!

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Shane "RedZMonte"
2004 Z16 Z06: Virgin
2000 SSEi: Kenwood DDX512, 3.25" MPS, ZZP DP, PLog, Puck Mount, NGK TR7's, DHP Tuned
1995 Monte Z34: T04e "60" turbo, 42.5# injectors, Borla Catback, OBDII swap, DHP Tuned, Much more...


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