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Old 12-09-2012, 02:32 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2012
Location: St. Louis MO
Posts: 12
Angry Gear-heads, help me problem solve something the wife did!

Hey guys,

Please take it easy on me, I'm not a car guy and my knowledge is very limited.

Today my wife called me, she had the jeep (2004 Wrangler X) and said the following:

The jeep was driving fine, she went to a friends house to pick up said friend. She parked in the driveway, turned off the jeep, and went inside with everything working as usual. When she came back out, she started up the jeep and released the e-brake but the light didn't go off. She engaged and disengaged it a few more times, light still on. She puts it in reverse and gradually let off the clutch, the jeep catches at that "sweet spot" just like usual and slowly starts to roll (indicating that the e-brake was definitely disengaged to the point that the same amount of force to start it rolling was required as usual, brakes were not holding anything up). She goes to brake and squish, the pedal goes almost to the floor before finally engaging the brakes.

She was able to drive it home, brakes still worked but required almost 100% travel time on the pedal before they reacted, and then the transition from no brakes to "lock em up, sally" happened over the span of the last 5% of the pedal travel.

Now, I don't think SHE did anything. I think something just finally went out, got loose, or flipped me the bird. I have a very rudimentary understanding of things, and I assume that the brake pedal activates some sort of hydraulic pump that distributes whatever fluid is in the lines to the brake pads causing them to stop the car. I checked the brake fluid reservoir and it was still topped off, so wouldn't that rule out a leak from the lines themselves?

Does the braking system operate similar to my understanding, and if so, where could something have gone wrong to cause the squishy pedal? Would I have found a leak of some sort if there was any issues with the brake lines? Does the 2004 Wrangler have a sensor somewhere that would trigger the e-brake light on the dash if there was an issue with the braking system that didn't actually involve the e-brake?

You guys know these Jeeps inside and out, so fill me with some knowledge!



2004 Jeep Wrangler X 4.0L I6 with a 3"BB (from the previous owner) and 33" tires. No BL, no T-case drop, nothing else done as far as I know.

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Old 12-09-2012, 02:44 AM   #2
Trevor C 98tj's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 327
This happend to me but it was my wheel cylinder. Maybe the same for you? Maybe the proportioning valve kicked in and cut off fluid to one of the lines, so that's why you still have fluid? I'm not a hundred percent sure.

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Old 12-09-2012, 02:52 AM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Greeley, CO
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sounds like the brake Master Cylinder is almost dead.
Had this happen to me in college on I-25, going 65 mph and traffic all of a sudden at a standstill in front of me. Mashing on that thing and NOTHING. Hit the paved shoulder and flew by about 20 cars while starting to slow down. I am sure every person I went by was freaked out…until they got back up to me and saw the white, No blood in his face, finger impressions in the steering wheel, pants most likely full of doodie, hair standing on end, sweating nut job that just flew by them. Then they knew what freaked out was!
Tracy E WTFEver
“When you do things RIGHT, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” God in Godfellas-Futurama
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:44 AM   #4
dmblair's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Deer Creek, IL
Posts: 184
Check for a brake line that is leaking as well. Fill up the master cylinder with fluid and start pumping away, then get under the jeep and start looking around. You will probably see the fluid pouring out somewhere. Heck, you might even be able to hear a hiss as well. Had that happen on a rear line on my yj. Pumped it a few times and before I could even get on the ground to climb under I could hear it leaking.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Trevor C 98tj View Post
This happend to me but it was my wheel cylinder. Maybe the same for you? Maybe the proportioning valve kicked in and cut off fluid to one of the lines, so that's why you still have fluid? I'm not a hundred percent sure.
You are on the right track. The reason the light on the dash stayed on after releasing the parking brake is the shuttle valve in the combo valve has shifted to one side and shut off the back or front circuit.

I'd guess the back is the problem due to the rig still being able to stop.

Also, with the rear circuit closed down, the leak will be harder to see, but evidence will be there due to the fluid having gone somewhere.

It can be anywhere in the line from the combo block to either wheel.

It is doubtful that the master is the problem because of the light being tripped on the dash. The master is before the combo valve and wouldn't turn the light on if it was bad.
I am Savvy, I am the brake Wizard.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:50 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2012
Location: St. Louis MO
Posts: 12
Thanks for the help guys, I'll be in touch!

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